1936 presentation copy of Mein Kampf
photo credit: fortinbras

Are some words so dangerous they must be locked away?

The world needs heroes and it’s better they be harmless men like me than villains like Hitler.

Albert Einstein

The question is currently an issue of fierce debate in Germany where a leading historian has called for Adolf Hitler‘s anti-Semitic screed Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) to be published openly for the first time since 1945. It is available for sale in Britain and the US, as well as through the internet, yet many people still object to the idea of it appearing in bookshops in Germany, the birthplace of Nazism.

It’s an understandable concern, but misplaced. Banning Mein Kampf only lends it a glamour it does not diserve. Making it freely available would remove its mystique and enable more Germans to discover for themselves quite how appalling this book is.

It’s not only evil, but badly written, repetitious, anti-factual, rambling and turgid, the testimony of a furious, self-pitying failure with a slender grasp on reality. Publishing Mein Kampf would demonstrate that Germany has reached the point where it can look on the evil of Nazism with a confident disdain instead of a lingering fear.

What you can do

Read Mein Kampf. Make-up your own mind, however realise that:

Democracy and censorship have never been happy bedfellows. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are democratic principles intrinsically linked to a functioning egalitarian society.

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