Germany wants to uphold an effective post-war ban on the publication of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf” after its copyright comes up for grabs at the end of next year, officials said Thursday.
Justice ministers from the 16 German regional states agreed that reprints of the 1924 book in which Hitler railed against the “Jewish peril” should still be prevented beyond the rights’ expiry date.
Since World War II, Bavaria state, which holds the rights because Hitler was officially a resident of Munich when he died, has maintained an effective ban on the book in Germany by blocking any reprints.
But those rights expire at the end of 2015, 70 years after Hitler committed suicide.
An annotated version of “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”) being compiled by a historical institute is however expected to still be published after Bavaria signalled in January it would not seek to prevent it.
Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback has welcomed the “clear signal against intolerance, xenophobia and anti-Semitism” sent by his regional counterparts.
“Germany has a particular historic responsibility which we must fulfill,” he said, adding the world was closely watching Germany’s handling of the “inhuman” book.
“We want to consistently exhaust the available means of criminal law — we owe that to the victims of the Holocaust and their relatives,” he said.
Justice ministers agreed at a two-day meeting in the Baltic coastal resort of Binz that any non-annotated version of “Mein Kampf” is to be prevented after the rights’ expiry on December 31, 2015.
They also asked chief public prosecutors to discuss the legal issues with the federal public prosecutor general and report back.
Hitler started writing “Mein Kampf” in prison after his failed putsch of 1923. After his rise to power, millions of copies were published. From 1936, the Nazi state gave a copy to all newlyweds as a wedding gift.