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Controversy in Germany surrounds 'Mein Kampf' copyright expiration

German historians and legal scholars are debating whether the book should be studied or suppressed.
By Ed Adamczyk   |   June 12, 2014 at 3:10 PM   |   Comments

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MUNICH , Germany, June 12 (UPI) -- The copyright on Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf will expire at the end of 2015, and German legal scholars are debating whether the book should be studied or suppressed.

The book of Hitler's philosophical and biographical commentary has sold over 12 million copies, in many languages and editions, since it was written in 1924, although no legal versions have been published since 1945.

Publication rights are owned by the free State of Bavaria. By law, the book will lose its copyright status and enter the realm of public domain at the end of 2015 -- 70 years after the author's death in the spring of 1945.

Speaking before a building on an upscale Munich town square known as Prinzregentenplatz, Giles Bennett said, "Since this was Hitler's final private official residence registered with the authorities, when after the war de-Nazification procedures were begun, everyone, including the defense, agreed that his entire property, despite what his last will and testament said, was confiscated on behalf of the Free State of Bavaria."

That included the copyright of the book, and Bavaria has not allowed its publication in Germany since the end of the war, However, it allowed Munich's Institute of Contemporary Studies, which has overseen work on most of Hitler's written and spoken words, to publish a scholarly edition.

Work was started in 2010, but government funding for the project was stopped in 2013.

An expert on Hitler's writings, Professor Neil Gregor of England's University of Southampton, has mixed feelings about the uproar.

"In a way, I'm pleased to see that the controversy happened. Those who want to publish a critical edition are honorable people. Those who are arguing for a ban are also honorable people. And the vitality of that argument and the vitality of that debate speaks very positively for Germany's political culture. What really needs to be done, though, is that the book needs to gradually fade into history," Gregor said.
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