Bavaria Vows Prosecution for any Publication of Hitler’s Mein Kampf
Berlin (dpa) - The German state of Bavaria announced Thursday that it will file criminal charges against anyone who tries to publish late dictator Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic manifesto Mein Kampf anywhere in the country.
Bavaria controls the copyright to the book - which was written by Hitler in a Munich prison in the 1920s - until the end of 2015. The southern German state has steadfastly blocked any attempt to reprint and sell it on German soil, although German and translated editions are available in other countries.
In a surprise move, the state on Tuesday cancelled funding for a scholarly version of the book - set for publication in 2016 - that would contain extensive footnotes “demystifying” the text.
However, Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) said on Wednesday that it would press ahead with the project without funding.
In response to the news, Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, threatened to file charges.
“We will set in motion charges of sedition and confiscate such material as evidence,” he said, adding that a number of German ministers had agreed to this approach six months ago.
In Germany, copyright lasts 70 years after the death of an author, after which a text enters the public domain. Hitler committed suicide in April 1945.
Mein Kampf is a autobiographical manifesto in which Hitler outlines his political ideology and future plans for Germany.
Legal expert Michael Rosenthal said he doubted sedition charges against anyone publishing Mein Kampf from 2016 would stick.
“Especially not if it is an annotated edition,” he told dpa, adding that, although the book is hateful, it does not incite readers to commit hate crimes. “In the current day and age, even its language seems pretty woolly,” he added.