New York, NY, January 16, 2014 … In response to a surge in digital downloads of e-book editions of Adolf Hitler’s biographical manifesto, Mein Kampf, and in anticipation of the expiration of the book’s Bavarian copyright in 2015, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has made available on its website a digital version of an introduction to the English translation written by Holocaust survivor and ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.
The Foxman introduction, originally included in the 1998 English translation by the Mariner Books imprint of Houghton Mifflin, describes how Hitler’s book served as a blueprint for the extermination of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust, and outlines the book’s continued ability to find new generations of devotees in neo-Nazis, haters, racists and Third Reich enthusiasts.
In making the introduction more widely available to the public — by publishing it in digital format on its website and offering it to e-book publishers as a link to share with readers who download the book – ADL is aiming to raise awareness among potential readers of the book’s sordid history and its use in promoting anti-Semitism and bigotry.
“We believe it is important for Mein Kampf to continue to be published as it does have value to historians and students of World War II and Holocaust history,” Mr. Foxman said. “There is always the concern, however, that some people who are already infected with anti-Semitism will misuse the book in an attempt to glorify Hitler or reinforce their own warped views about Jews. We think the only constructive way for the book to be published is with an introduction that explains the historical context and the impact of the thinking behind Hitler’s words, which led right up to the murderous, racist Nazi regime.”
The ADL introduction to Mein Kampf discusses the importance of continuing to make the book available to scholars and historians, despite its atrocious style, puerile digressions and narcissistic self-absorption. “We preserve Mein Kampf in this spirit of remembering,” Mr. Foxman writes in the introduction. “We study it in the hope of securing a brighter future for humanity.”
Mein Kampf is currently available for free download on a number of websites, including reference sites and extremist sites, and is also available for sale from mainstream online booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It has recently experienced a surge in e-book sales, grabbing the top spot on Amazon’s Propaganda & Political Psychology booklist and making its way into the top 20 bestselling iTunes’s Politics & Events titles. Earlier this week, two e-book versions of Mein Kampf ranked 12th and 15th in the Politics & Current Events section of the iTunes book store.
Mr. Foxman theorized that the increase in digital downloads of Mein Kampf was motivated, in part, “by a combination of morbid curiosity and, in some instances, latent bigotry.”
“It shows once again the power of the digital world, in making everything so accessible in one’s home, and the potential dangers of such a historic hateful document being read by so many without conversation or context,” Mr. Foxman said.
Hitler wrote the book following the Nazi party’s failed attempt to seize power in Munich in 1923. The copyright on Mein Kampf, which is owned by the state of Bavaria, expires in 2015 — 70 years after the death of its author.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.