An Italian newspaper has republished Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," sparking outrage in the country's Jewish community. The publication defended the stunt, saying it aimed "to study what is evil to avoid its return."
The conservative "Il Giornale" daily offered the Nazi leader's political manifesto for free to readers who also purchased a supplement to the newspaper's Saturday edition.
The unusual giveaway provoked a swift response from Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who expressed his solidarity with Italy's 30,000-strong Jewish community and called the decision to distribute copies of the anti-Semitic book "squalid."
Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called the initiative "indecent."
"It is a vile act, light years away from any in-depth learning or study about the Holocaust," he said.
A 'study of evil'
The right-wing newspaper, owned by the family of former premier Silvio Berlusconi, defended the promotion, saying its aim was to "study what is evil to avoid its return." It said it was giving away Hitler's work alongside the first of a series of eight history books on the Nazi Third Reich which would be sold with the paper.
Editor-in-chief Alessandro Sallusti stressed that the version handed out to customers included critical commentary by an Italian professor of contemporary history. Sallusti also said he wanted to make readers understand "where and why absolute evil was born," but acknowledged that protests over the publication were "legitimate" and even "understandable."
"The concerns of our friends of the Italian Jewish community, who always have and always will see us by their side [...] deserve all our respect," Sallusti wrote in an editorial.
"Mein Kampf," written from 1924 to 1926, lays out Hitler's ultranationalist, anti-Semitic world view. His ideology ultimately led to the murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust.
A 70-year copyright on the book held by the state of Bavaria expired at the end of 2015. After the copyright was lifted, the book was reissued in an extensively annotated version in Germany.
nm/cmk (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)