The head of Germany's leading Jewish group called on Wednesday for an annotated version of Adolf Hitler's autobiography and manifesto "Mein Kampf" to be republished despite a ban.
Scholars say an annotated version could "demystify" the book
Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told ZDF television: "I think it makes sense and it is important to publish an edition of Hitler's ‘Mein Kampf’ with an academic commentary.
"An academic and historically critical edition needs to be prepared today to prevent neo-Nazis profiting from it," Kramer said. "An aggressive and enlightening engagement with the book would doubtless remove many of its false, persisting myths."
The scholarly edition would be accompanied by a critical introduction and footnotes explaining and challenging Hitler's assertions, according to Munich's Institute for Contemporary History (IFZ), which applied this week for permission to reprint the work.
But Bavarian authorities this week reaffirmed a 64-year-old ban, with state officials saying that extremist groups could have legally promoted the book if the ban had been lifted.
Jewish leader Stephan Kramer wants an "enlightening engagement" with the book
"Scholarly as the aims of the institute are, we won't lift the ban as it may play straight into the hands of the far-right," said Horst Wolf, a spokesman for the Bavarian Finance Ministry, the legal guardians of the state's copyright. "Prohibition is recognized and highly regarded by Jewish groups and we mean to keep it that way."
"Mein Kampf", which translates as "My Struggle", has been banned in Germany since the end of World War Two, and Bavaria holds the exclusive rights until 70 years after the Nazi dictator's death in 1945.
However, in June, a Bavarian minister added his voice to calls for the work to be republished with a critical commentary to avoid it being misused by far-right groups when the rights expire in 2015.
Wolfgang Heubisch, science and research minister, said: "There is a danger that charlatans and neo-Nazis could seize this disgraceful work when Bavaria's rights run out."
"Therefore I am of the opinion there should be a decently prepared and well-grounded critical edition."
The book was written in 1924 when Hitler was serving a four-year jail term in a Bavarian prison after a failed coup. It combines elements of autobiography and sets out his views on racial purity, his hatred of Jews and his opposition to communism.
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