Court blocks 'Mein Kampf' excerpts from being published

The Bavarian state government has repeatedly blocked republication of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic book "Mein Kampf."

Story highlights

  • German court blocks publication of Hitler book excerpts
  • Magazine publisher will appeal; no law prohibits printing the book or parts of it
  • Hitler wrote the anti-Semitic manifesto in prison in 1923
A civil court in Munich has blocked a British publisher's plans to print excerpts of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" in Germany later this month.
The court ruled Wednesday that British publisher Peter McGee's plans to disseminate portions of the anti-Semitic manifesto in Germany were not protected by long-standing citation rights.
Initially slated to hit the shelves in the Zeitungszeugen magazine in Germany on January 26, it would have been the first time that any parts of the book had been reprinted in a newspaper or magazine in that country since the end of World War II.
Disappointed with the court's decision, Alexander Luckow, an adviser to McGee, said Germans were only prolonging the inevitable.
"Putting a lid on things for the next three years and locking it away isn't helping," Luckow told CNN.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no law in Germany forbidding the publishing of "Mein Kampf," but the Bavarian state government -- which owns the publishing copyright -- has always blocked reprints.
These rights, however, are set to expire in 2015, which will then allow anyone to publish the entire volume or excerpts. The Institute for Contemporary History in Munich is already preparing a scholarly edition of the book set to come out that year, according to Dr. Edith Raim, who is working on the project.
In light of the court's ruling, consumers can only get their hands on censored versions of the magazine, with the controversial excerpts too blurry to read. Luckow said this was to prevent the authorities from confiscating copies of the magazine.
The magazine's legal team plans to appeal the court's decision as early as next week, Luckow said.
Since McGee's plans were made public, Jewish groups in Germany and abroad have been divided about the project.
The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said January 17 that it was preferable for Germans to read annotated excerpts of Hitler's writings in an academic context rather than accessing the unfiltered material online.
"I can truly do without the publication of this hate-filled book that is saturated with anti-Semitism to the core," Graumann told Israel's Jerusalem Post. "(But) if one must actually read it, then it's better in the framework of a critical commentary."
While some historians expressed few qualms with the announcement that parts of the book would be reprinted in Germany, a group representing Holocaust survivors and their families questioned the value of such a move.
"We want to make clear that there is nothing altruistic in the motivation of this publisher," said Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendents. "He's out to make a profit."
"There is a reason that the public display of the swastika is illegal in Germany," Steinberg added. "For these same historic and moral reasons, it is offensive to think that kiosks in Berlin will again -- 70 years after the end of that evil regime -- be selling Hitler's 'Mein Kampf.'"
Hitler wrote the book from prison after his failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, outlining his anti-Semitic ideology.