Germany’s education minister, Johanna Wanka, supports a nationwide use of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in the classroom, the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse reports.
Her support follows outrage after a German teachers union said an annotated edition of “Mein Kampf” should be taught in senior high school to help “inoculate” teenagers against political extremism.
The Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic diatribe has not been printed in Germany since the end of World War II, but an annotated and critical edition is set to be published next year.
The rights to the book have been held for 70 years by the state of Bavaria, which has refused to allow reprints, but the copyright runs out at the end of 2015.
“Mein Kampf,” which was published in 1924, earned Hitler a 10% royalty from every sale, according to the Smithsonian documentary “Hitler’s Riches.”
At the peak of “Mein Kampf” sales, Hitler earned $1 million a year in royalties alone, equivalent to $12 million today.
By the time the war ended in 1945, about 10 million copies of “Mein Kampf” were sold.
An edited ‘Mein Kampf’
Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History plans to publish 4,000 copies of “Hitler, Mein Kampf” in January. The 2,000-page edition will be accompanied with more than 3,500 academic notes.
The teachers’ association proposed that selected passages from the book should be taught to students ages 16 and over, the online edition of the business newspaper Handelsblatt reported.
German authorities still plan to prosecute publishers of unedited reprints on charges of “inciting racial hatred.”
Educators could not ignore the inflammatory text anyway, said the union’s head, Josef Kraus, citing the lure of the forbidden for young people.
Instead, the propaganda pamphlet should enter the curriculum and be presented “by savvy history and politics teachers” as that this could help “inoculate adolescents against political extremism.”
Prominent German Jewish community leader Charlotte Knobloch opposed the idea, telling the newspaper that using the “profoundly anti-Jewish diatribe” as teaching material would be irresponsible.
The educational policy spokesman for the center-left Social Democrats, lawmaker Ernst Dieter Rossmann, supported the teachers’ body.
“‘Mein Kampf’ is a terrible and monstrous book,” he told the Handelsblatt.
“To historically unmask this anti-Semitic, dehumanizing polemical pamphlet and to explain the propaganda mechanism through appropriately qualified teachers is a task of modern education.”
In times of rising right-wing populism, teaching humanist values and democratic principles is indispensable, he argued.
“A critical analysis of ‘Mein Kampf’ – this antithesis of humanity, freedom, and openness to the world – can strengthen resistance against these temptations and dangers.”