Hitler’s Mein Kampf to be published in Polish as ‘warning for the future’
Adolf Hitler’s political manifesto Mein Kampf, which set Europe on a course towards war and the Holocaust, is to be published in the Polish language.
The release of the Polish translation on January 20 will be the first critical edition of the book published in Poland and only the second in the world. In 2016, a similar scholarly edition was published in Germany.
The new version is aimed squarely at academics and researchers into totalitarianism rather than the general reader. It runs to 1,000 pages and will be buttressed with an extensive introduction and over 2,000 footnotes.
Katarzyna Rabiega from the book’s publisher, Bellona, told TFN: “At one time it was a book that was the source of great evil in the world.
“It was a political manifesto that led to the downfall of Germany and the extermination of millions of people, so we are aware the book is controversial.
“However, we believe that it can now be published as a historical source with appropriate critical commentary.”
While there are laws in Poland against propagating fascist content, the book can be published as it is equipped with scholarly commentary and the law excludes academic activity from criminal liability.
Rabiega added that the book will not be advertised and will go on sale at a price that is prohibitive for the mass market.
The publication of new editions of Hitler’s work became possible in 2015 when the copyright held by the Bavarian government expired.
For several decades after the war, the authorities in the southern German state fought ruthlessly against anyone who tried to sell the 'bible of Nazism'. Now, the text is in the public domain and anyone can publish it.
Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in prison in the early 1920s when he was serving his sentence after the failed Munich putsch. The book was published in two parts - in 1925 and 1927.
The first part contains Hitler's biography, while in the second part he presents the foundations of National Socialist ideology.
During Hitler's lifetime, a total of around 12 million copies of 'Mein Kampf' were sold in Germany and abroad.
The book became the main work of Nazi propaganda in the Third Reich and to this day it is regarded as a work that can spread dangerous ideology.
However, the author of the Polish edition, Professor Eugeniusz Król, said that the publication serves a legitimate purpose.
He said: “Treating Mein Kampf as a forbidden fruit creates a false myth of the book. I believe that the publication of Hitler's book with footnotes, a comprehensive introduction and bibliography is not only expedient but necessary.
“I want this book to serve as a kind of warning for the future,” he added.
Director of the Auschwitz Memorial Museum, Dr Piotr Cywiński said: “There is no denying that Mein Kampf is an important historical source which is indispensable for research into how National Socialist ideology developed.
“Today, in the age of the Internet, it is very easy to access reprints of old editions, new transcriptions and translations."
He pointed out that works by Lenin and Stalin, Mao's Red Book, anthologies of texts from totalitarian states and genocidal regimes, as well as Nazi magazines and texts of SA and SS songs are available in libraries.
When a similar critical edition was published in Germany in 2016, 100,000 copies of the book were snapped up making it a bestseller.
The initial print run of 4000 copies of the book that stretches to a staggering 2000 pages sold out straightaway.
The title has been re-printed many times in the last four years and readers in German were not put off by the prohibitive price tag of 59 euros.