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German prosecutors investigate neo-Nazi edition of 'Mein Kampf'

A German paper has published an e-mail from a far-right group claiming it will publish a version of Hitler's book free of "tedious" scholarly commentary. This could possibly violate laws against spreading Nazi ideology.

The fears many voiced about the republishing of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," namely that neo-Nazi groups would use it as propaganda, may indeed come to pass. According to a report published in the "Bild" newspaper on Wednesday, far-right extremists in Bavaria planned to do exactly that.

For seven decades, Hitler's two-volume treatise of militaristic anti-Semitism was available in print in Germany only for research purposes. But the copyright, held by the state of Bavaria, expired in 2016, which prompted a fierce debate over the book's future. Some argued "Mein Kampf" was still dangerous and that the government should find a way to fight its publication.

The solution offered by the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich was to publish

a critical, heavily annotated version

of the text, and in this iteration the tome became available on German bookstore shelves for the first time since 1945.

An edition "without do-gooder commentary"

The "Bild" claimed to have discovered an e-mail sent around by the neo-Nazis in Bavaria where the publication of an "unabridged printing without tedious do-gooder commentary" was announced for the summer.

According to the announcement, the book will be published by a Leipzig printing house called "Der Schelm," whose owner, Adrian Preisslinger, has been convicted on multiple counts of inciting racial hatred and the use of banned symbols since 2002.

State attorneys in the city of Bamberg said they were "investigating whether or not charges could be brought" against the publication in order to block the printing. The dissemination of Nazi ideology remains illegal in Germany, and the printers of an edition free of annotation could theoretically be prosecuted under this law.

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