Friday, 21 October 2016

Of Mice And Men

Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's statement of intent for the German people has been out of print in Germany (although not elsewhere, noticeably in the Islamic world where its continued to sell well from Palestine to Bangladesh), but that lock-down came to an end in 2015 when the intellectual copyrights expired. These rights had been administered by the Finance Ministry of the State of Bavaria on Hitler's behalf, and thus they had been able to refuse any reprint requests.

Mein Kampf - Critics Edition Still Raised Old Fears

Now as mentioned, in the UK and elsewhere, the book has been freely reprinted and it is left to the public to determine if it was worth reading (the vast majority of the few who bought it would have said it wasn't. Its a turgid diatribe at best, and simply rubbish at worst). But Germany and Austria are ultra sensitive to the fact he was once their favoured son, so Austria for example has banned the book from the country, while Germany has tried to steer a path of not quite banning it, but making it hard to find, and commercially unusable, as its illegal to quote from it in print or speeches.

So faced with the copyright dilemma, the German state via the Bavarian Finance Ministry, chose to allow only a heavily annotated (obviously with unfavourable criticisms) version, to be printed in a limited run, via a contract award to the quasi-private Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ), .... with supplies restricted. It even later (after if had been prepared for printing), tried to let the public know that it had withdrawn support for the project, thus making it look as though it was solely an IfZ project .... IfZ promptly warned that it could end up being a dangerous publication despite its large size (Weighing in at 5.4 kg [12 pounds], and including 3,700 footnotes) ....

Of course once a state decides to be the censor of its people, strange and often unwanted things can occur .... at first nothing much happened, partly as supplies were so limited, and when that ran out further printings took an age to arrive at book shops. But these things often develop wings of their own .... All this delaying had done was postpone the appearance of the book ....... in the German best seller lists.

By mid-April 2016, Mein Kampf had managed to move to the pole position of Germany's influential Der Spiegel best seller list, where it remained for several weeks and at time of writing this it was still in the lists (last time I looked it was in 14th place and dropping away), even though many bookshops did not have the book on display, and others only ordered the book on customer request.

Der Spiegel Best Sellers List Showed It Sold Well ....

Ironically of course, in those countries that have liberal laws on publication, although there is some regular interest in the book, its minuscule, and the book never threatens the best seller list. While in Mrs Merkel's new Germany, attempts to control its sales (while pretending not to), merely led to the book hitting the best seller list. Thus creating an issue that would probably never have arisen had they just determined that the German people had grown up now, and wouldn't be invading Poland again.

Of course there is one other factor which may have influenced the decision to try and restrict sales and interest in the book ...... One million members of the Islamic world have entered Germany in the last 12 months, a section of world society where Herr Hitler has always had a ready audience ..... They are also causing the right wing to rise in Germany.

So perhaps there is really no surprise in the popularity of this book afterall?

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