The first reprint of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf in Germany since the second world war has proved a surprise bestseller and is heading for its sixth print run, its publisher has said.
The Institute of Contemporary History of Munich (IfZ) said about 85,000 copies of the new annotated version of his antisemitic manifesto had been sold since its release last January.
Far from promoting far-right ideology, the reprint had enriched a debate on the renewed rise of authoritarian political views in contemporary western society, the institute added.
The IfZ had initially planned to print only 4,000 copies but increased production because of demand. The sixth print run will hit bookstores later in January.
The two-volume work has appeared on Der Spiegel magazine’s non-fiction bestseller list over much of the last year, and even topped it for two weeks in April.
The institute also organised a successful series of presentations and debates around Mein Kampf across Germany and elsewhere in Europe. This, it said, allowed it to measure the impact of the annotated edition.
“It turned out that the fear the publication would promote Hitler’s ideology or even make it socially acceptable and give neo-Nazis a new propaganda platform was totally unfounded,” Andreas Wirsching, the director of the IfZ, said.
“To the contrary, the debate about Hitler’s world view and his approach to propaganda offered a chance to look at the causes and consequences of totalitarian ideologies, at a time in which authoritarian political views and rightwing slogans are gaining ground.”
The institute said the data collected by regional bookstores about those who bought the book showed they tended to be customers interested in politics and history as well as educators, and not reactionaries or rightwing radicals.
Nevertheless, the IfZ said it would maintain a restrictive policy on international rights. For now, only English and French editions are planned despite interest from many countries.
The institute released the annotated version of Mein Kampf last January, shortly after the copyright of the manifesto expired.
Bavaria was handed the rights to the book in 1945 when the allies gave it control of the main Nazi publishing house after Germany’s defeat.
For 70 years, the state refused to allow the inflammatory tract to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.
But Mein Kampf – which means “My Struggle” – fell into the public domain on 1 January last year and the institute said it feared a version without critical commentary could hit the market.
Partly autobiographical, the tract outlines Hitler’s ideology that formed the basis for Nazism. He wrote it in 1924 while he was imprisoned in Bavaria for treason after the failed “Beer Hall Putsch”.
The book set out two ideas that he put into practice as Germany’s leader going into the second world war: annexing neighbouring countries to gain lebensraum, or “living space”, for Germans; and his hatred of Jews, which led to the Holocaust.
About 12.4m copies were published in Germany and from 1936 the Nazi state gave a copy to all newlyweds as a wedding gift.