Copyright On Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ Expires

The copyright on Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf expired on Friday, making the National Socialist leader’s treatise available to the German public for the first time in 70 years.

Reprinting the book was made illegal in Germany after World War Two by the Bavarian government, which was given ownership of the copyright by Allied forces.

Bavaria, the home state of Hitler, made reprinting the book illegal to prevent indictment of hatred. But Mein Kampf was so widely distributed before the war ended that it was widely available.

Canadian satirist Serdar Somuncu, who read Mein Kampf to German audiences in the 90’s, said the ban on republishing the book was a joke in itself.

Canadian satirist Serdar Somuncu

Canadian satirist Serdar Somuncu

“You can even order Mein Kampf from England to Germany and what’s really funny is the copyright of the English version is owned by a German bookseller,” Somuncu told the CBC. “So as I said — it’s ridiculous.”

A years-long debate on what to do about the book’s sudden availability led up to the copyright’s expiration. Originally published in 1928, Mein Kampf helped Adolf Hilter sweep into power eight years later.

Many Jewish groups have welcome a new edition, published by Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History, in an effort to explain the Holocaust. The new version will have thousands of notes explaining how the tome is incoherent and badly written, rather than powerful or seductive.

Under European copyright law, the rights of an author of a literary or artistic work runs for the life of the author and for 70 years after his death – in Hitler’s case on 30 April 1945, when he shot himself in his bunker in Berlin.

Although Mein Kampf is now free to publish, German authorities will continue a clampdown on the book in an effort to stop perceived neo-Nazi threats.

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