Mein Kampf to Become Legal in Germany on January 1st, 2016

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Since the fall of the Nazis in Germany, Hitler’s tome Mein Kampf has been illegal in Germany. While the book was not banned, reprinting was discontinued as the State of Bavaria assumed the copyright and refused to publish it. That copyright runs out at midnight this December 31st, 2015, and the work will enter the German public domain in 2016.

There are current plans for an annotated version of the book by the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, Germany; though it is certain the reprinting will not stop there. It will be interesting to see if further attempts are made by the German government to control the text as we enter 2016, in order to temper the book’s potential effects on society. A 2014 agreement between state and federal justice ministers agreed to prevent such versions (even if heavily annotated) from reaching the German market after the copyright runs out by using laws against incitement.

The use of copyright in controlling Mein Kampf has also occurred in other European nations, France among them. In that country, the publisher Fayard has developed a similar project to begin a new French printing of the work with its own annotated copy as January’s public domain deadline approaches. While legal in Canada, the book is not generally available in physical form as Chapters-Indigo has an internal policy not to shelve or sell the book. Chapters-Indigo does sell, however, works by Mao, Stalin, Mussolini, and other 20th century genocidal dictators. Since Mein Kampf is easily available online, with copies on Amazon.ca, Gutenberg.org, and others, the claim of a “de facto ban” because of the actions of Chapters-Indigo made by the Toronto Star in 2009 appears inflated.

Again though, if the ministers of justice in Germany follow through on their 2014 threat, this may all just be much ado about nothing.

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