How "German mistrust" of the public turned Mein Kampf into a bestseller again


#1

[Read the post]


#2

How many times have I heard Atheists argue that the best way to divert someone from Christianity is to have them read the Bible? I think it’s more pithy that it is true, but there is still truth to it. Don’t create mystery and put the turd into a special carved box laden with symbols. Slap the hot steaming turd on the table and let people partake of it as they desire.


#3

In Italy last week you could get a copy free with the paper.


#4

The BBC article has a weird style, I’m not sure if I understand the subtext.

Publishing Mein Kampf without annotations is most likely illegal according to the German criminal code*. I’m not sure why it’s paternalistic to print the footnote-monster to greet Hitler’s arrival in the public domain. I was never a fan of Bavaria’s refusal to use the copyrights more open, but the first release of the book in post-war Germany was not handled that badly.

In a further twist, the Bavarian government cleverly tried to create the impression that it had withdrawn financial support for the annotated edition of Mein Kampf, thus leaving the IfZ to stand alone in the rain.

Ah, I see. Thomas Weber wanted to troll Bavaria’s government. Good man, please continue!

* imo the law is too restrictive


#5

A friend of mine started reading Mein Kampf in high school–publicly, only for the sake of shocking people. He quit after a short time for two reasons. The first is he found the edition he was reading “nigh-unreadable” just because it was so unbelievably boring.

The second reason is that only a handful of us recognized the book for what it was and knew him well enough to know why he was reading it. Pretty sad comment on the education system.


#6

publishing a nigh-unreadable “critical edition” in the hopes that it would be too cumbersome to be popular.

Wouldn’t that be… every edition ever? I’ve heard it’s not beach reading even if you’re Aryan Nations.


#7

Could you explain this situation in more detail? Either the history of the first release in post-war Germany, or how the book is being talked about publicly in Germany now, or any aspect for which you might have more knowledge than the average BBer. There must be cultural nuances the rest of us don’t understand, and it sounds like you’re not convinced the BBC explained it well to the English-speaking world.


#8

To be fair, the Sudoku section is pretty awesome.


#9

hunh i got mine for opening a bank account


#10

Well, I can only give the perspective of an American expat in Munich, but here goes:

Apparently, from 1933 to 1945 the book was more or less a required purchase. The sort of thing you wanted to have lying in plain sight in your living room if some party bigwig came around. It was one of those bestsellers that nobody read. Thus the comparison to the Bible.

After the war, copyright passed on to the Free State of Bavaria, which is a state in the Federal Republic of Germany. They used that copyright as an easy tool to keep the book out of publication and to clobber unrepentant nazis for copyright infringement, fine the heck out of them. And so time went on.

Now the copyright has run out, so instead of just letting anyone publish a copy, the Bavarian government decided to make an “authoritative” version. Not so much to make it unreadable but to make sure the blatant lies and drivel do not go unanswered. That makes the book twice as big, and ironically even more interesting because of the footnotes, sidebars and stuff that explains the drivel. So it’s a win for the state, but they’re still uncomfortable because Hitler and so on.


#11

June 2. Bratwurst for lunch. It is dry and smells faintly of the orient.
June 3. Bratwurst again. The sausage that should be the pride of all German-speaking peoples is instead an abomination.
June 4. The fiendish Jews running the commissary have served that shameful bratwurst for the fifth day in a row! ALSO THE PORTIONS ARE TOO SMALL.


#13

You could learn a lot more about Germany’s history with this book, from an interesting episode of 99pi, recently aired, exploring how Germany has treated what it deems socially dangerous, through history.


#14

I can’t tell if its a real quote. Or not.

I don’t know what’s real anymore.

People are saying Donald Trump is America’s last hope.

Its crazy pants. Hitler… WWII over bratwurst. Its exactly as ludicrious as RIGHT NOW.


#15

I can try, but only with a few disclaimers:

  • Weber is as a historian more familiar with the topic, I was not really interested in the whole discussion
  • My background produces a homogeneous, educated and liberal circle of friends/acquaintances (selective secondary school, university, well-paid job etc)

No one can leave the German school system without at least one year of mandatory history lessons covering the Third Reich, some common knowledge about the period can be assumed. Most likely Mein Kampf was mentioned and the content outlined, so it was not secret lore relayed only whispered.

There was a (deliberately…) confusion about the legal status of the book, but anyone even the slightest interested could learn that it was a copyright issue for reprints and not some kind of punishable ban of possession. All in all Mein Kampf was simply not a topic, the few interested could find it without too much hassle in second-hand bookshops, everyone else could ignore it.

The IfZ (publisher of the commented issue) tried for years to get a permit by the Bavarian government - but again: Outside of scientific circles this was a non-topic. Only a few years ago, with 2016 and the public domain moving closer, the book was discussed more often - but still as a scientific work, not a coffee table book.

Curtains up for the Bavarian government!

They made a deal with the IfZ and sponsored the annotated version, but later revoked the commitment and threatened to file a lawsuit if the book is published.

Now we had a loud and open discussion about Hitler’s work (the style is horrible, he’s an even worse author than painter) and I’m nearly sure that most of the books were bought because of this discussion. Not because most of the buyers believe in the content but out of curiosity, to see what the quarrel were about.


#16

So, pretty much the same experience as reading “Atlas Shrugged”.


#17

[first lines]

Alvy Singer: [addressing the camera] There’s an old joke - um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.”


#18

Dude! You mentioned Hitler! Haven’t you even heard of Godwin’s Law!?


#19

Well, considering we are discussing Mein Kampf, we reached a Mention Probability of 1 even before the thread started.

EDIT: what you are thinking of is Godwin’s Game, which is to see how long you can avoid reaching Mention Probablility of One, though scoring is still problematic. Then there is Godwin’s Corrolary, in which the longer a discussion goes on, the probability of Godwin’s Law being invoked approaches One. :sunglasses:


#20

Just think. All of that pain and misery because of one spoiled brat.


#21

Only a Nazi would bring up Godwin’s Law at a time like this.