Mein Kampf Makes an Insidious Return to Germany’s Best Sellers List

Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
.

Could the new annotated edition prove to have historical value in our troubled times?

Spanish philosopher George Santayana is credited with the powerful proverb: “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” That’s the optimistic way to look at the successful run of “Hitler, Mein Kampf, A Critical Edition,” spending 35 weeks on German publisher, Der Spiegel’s, best-seller list in 2016. According to the New York Times, the publication of the annotated text follows a 70-year ban in Germany. Its release has been met with plenty of controversy. Andreas Wirsching, the Director of the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, believes that the project’s historical value has proved worthwhile. He argues that “the discussions about Hitler’s worldview and dealing with his propaganda [has] presented an opportunity — at a time when authoritarian political beliefs and far-right slogans are again gaining in popularity — to re-examine the ominous roots and results of such totalitarian ideologies.”

Since the sales are processed by the booksellers, the Institute is able to keep tabs on who exactly is buying the book and they claim “by and large it appears to be customers who are generally interested in politics and history, as well as people who are active in political education, such as teachers.” Apparently, the fear that the primary readers of the 2,000 page text would be alt-right, xenophobic bigots has yet to come to fruition.

Nevertheless, there’s something profoundly sad about having Hitler’s abhorrent worldview proliferated once again through his dangerous manifesto. One can only hope that his hateful words serve as a lesson of what can happen when we allow demagogues into power and ignore how words are often the precursor to catastrophic action.

More Like This

The Antifascist Message Hidden in This Greek Coming-of-Age Novel

"Three Summers" is a sweet, non-political story about sisters that should make you feel deeply complicit

Sep 11 - Niko Maragos

Czech Dissident Writers Can Teach Us How to Protect Language from Lies

When people in power want to control thought by controlling words, literature can become a weapon

Mar 11 - Erica Eisen

How Love Ends: Scenes from a Refugee Hotel

Dina Nayeri on life and love in Hotel Barba, “a place where time had stopped and people waited without purpose, plan, or country.”

Mar 29 - Dina Nayeri
Thank You!