By Deb A.
A gift to newlyweds from the state in the late 1930s, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is now illegal to copy or print in Germany. But in 2016, 70 years after Hitler's death, the book will enter the public domain. One publication is already slated to hit the stores: a heavily annotated version designed by the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich to set the record straight.
Christian Hartmann, the historian heading up the project, took a clinical approach to the hate-filled text, but still found the language and violence "nauseating". He told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that although the original book was "full of errors and poorly written, with substandard editing," it must be taken seriously, as "one of the most important sources for understanding Hitler and his worldview."
The new edition will offer fact-checking, rebuttals, context and clarification that will give the reader more than an understanding of Hitler's worldview: the ammunition to refute it will run right alongside. The original text will no longer stand in the foreground; by enclosing it within the commentary, the IfZ aims to highlight the truth, which more often than not stands in stark contrast to Hitler's claims. Each of the over 3500 footnotes was heavily researched--references to Jews as "maggots" actually led to conversations with parasitologists--and even technically true statements were subject to intensive examination and elucidation. In many cases the commentary is longer than the actual text to which it refers.
Refuting Hitler's fear mongering and hate with pure facts brought Dr. Hartmann tremendous satisfaction, and he believes that offering an edition that challenges the polemics of Mein Kampf--as well as any uncritical versions that may appear on the market--is a national duty that is well worth a lifetime of finding his name linked to Hitler's on Google.
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