[Ed. – OK, so it’s a Friday and it’s really hard to compete with a Muslim lesbian vampire headline.]
While historians have long debated how many Germans actually read Mein Kampf during the Third Reich, today a different question has arisen: Will anyone in Germany read it once it can be legally published there in early 2016? And what might be the impact on a digital generation for whom the Führer is a distant memory or internet meme?
Later this year, the official copyright for Mein Kampf expires—70 years after the demise of its author. Since 1945, the Bavarian State (which owns the copyright) has refused to allow anyone to publish the volume. But in expectation of the copyright’s expiration (and in the hope of getting a jump on neo-Nazis who may try to publish their own slanted versions of the text) the esteemed Munich and Berlin-based Institute for Contemporary History decided some years ago to publish its own, critically annotated version. The move has generated some opposition, with some arguing against the release of any new version; “Can you annotate the Devil?” one critic asks.
The question is whether anyone will have the strength to lift, let alone read, the new edition. The volume will be hefty, numbering more than 2,000 pages—the result of nearly 5,000 annotations supplied by scholars. These annotations will critically engage Hitler’s ideologically rooted claims in Mein Kampf, the goal being to prevent gullible readers from accepting any of them at face value. …
My new book, Hi Hitler! highlights my research into the increasingly common commercialization and normalization of the Nazi past. I argue that a new internet rule has recently come into being, which I term the “Law of Ironic Hitlerization.” It asserts that the likelihood of an image getting attention on the web increases as soon as a Hitler moustache, swastika, or any other Nazi iconography is applied to it.