restricted access Hitler, Mein Kampf: Eine kritische Edition eds. by Christian Hartmann et al. (review)
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Hitler, Mein Kampf: Eine kritische Edition, Christian Hartmann, Thomas Vordermayer, Othmar Plöckinger, Roman Töppel, Edith Raim, et al., eds. (Munich: Institut für Zeitgeschichte, 2016), 1966 pp., illus., maps, hardcover €59.00.

At the end of World War II the Munich area was part of the American Zone of Occupation. The Nazi publishing house Eher Verlag was confiscated by the United States, as were all books for which the author had signed over copyright to that firm. This applied to Mein Kampf, for which Adolf Hitler had received very substantial royalties. But the occupation authorities signed over to the postwar Bavarian government that copyright. The Americans had also taken the typed text of another book Hitler had written but never published. Under German law that copyright belonged to Hitler's heirs, so that after I discovered and identified the text in 1958, the Institute for Contemporary History purchased the rights and issued my edition in 1961.1

Many years ago there was a plan for the Institute to publish a new and annotated edition of Mein Kampf that Professor Eberhard Jäckel (then at the University of Stuttgart) and I (then at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) would jointly edit. The Bavarian government blocked this project through its control of the copyright. Subsequently the Institute organized a group of scholars to prepare a new edition of the book to appear at the expiration of the copyright and the Bavarian government no longer could prevent publication. A series of Bavarian officials had taken the position that allowing republication might stimulate neo-Nazi views and organizations; this view presumably underlay the Bavarian government's insistence on limiting theprintingofthe first edition of Hitler's second book in 1961. Now that the copyright of Mein Kampf has expired under German law, the book the scholars prepared over several years has been published (though without reference to the earlier project). It was prepared by established scholars Christian Hartmann, Thomas Vordermayer, Othmar Plöckinger, and Roman Töppel, with assistance from others. The publication appears in two volumes: the reprinted original as written or dictated by Hitler and published by Eher (original pagination at top, new pagination on the bottom); to the right of the original text, notes indicate where, when, and what changes were made in subsequent printings; the editors' commentaries generally appear to the left, though occasionally below or on the following page or pages. The editors include a discussion of the procedures they followed in preparing the volume.

The new edition begins with extensive introductory material on the history of Mein Kampf, emphasizing the gracious conditions of Hitler's imprisonment and the [End Page 110] broader context in which he wrote the original two-volume book and dictated the second book. The introductory material summarizes and evaluates Hitler's early views, in particular his emphasis on the need for war, the centrality of race, and the acquisition of living space in Eastern Europe that would make Germany a world power (failure would mean it and the German people deserved to disappear). These views the editors frame within the extreme right-wing movements of the time: Hitler's work—intended for the widest possible distribution—advocated euthanasia for some and the compulsory sterilization of others deemed likely to produce defective offspring; it advocated too the "smashing" of all Jews and domestic "enemies." In addition to providing the statistics on the sterilization program actually initiated in 1933, the editors should have included the words from Hitler's April 1920 speech calling for the total extermination of the Jews.2

A review of the evidence on when Hitler wrote each chapter, and in some cases commentary on its nature and argument, introduces each chapter in the new edition. The first chapter provides minimal information on Hitler's early years and makes abundantly obvious his vehement opposition to the Habsburg family and the general construction of Austria-Hungary. The notes provide important information both on Hitler's family and the historical events to which he alludes. An error in note 26 on page 100 changes the indemnity imposed on France at the end of the 1870−1871...