A number of Jewish leaders have come forward voicing concern over the recent spike in ebook sales of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
The book, published in two volumes between 1925-1926, is Adolf Hitler’s pre-war autobiographical manifesto. The book covers the process by which Hitler developed increasingly anti-Semitic and militaristic views. A central theme of the book is “the Jewish peril” which argues for the existence of a Jewish conspiracy to gain world leadership. Hitler openly voices his hatred in the book for what he believed to be the world’s two great evils: communism and Judaism.
Publishing records show the book wasn’t much of a hit when it was first released. But the rise of the ebook has caused a small, but not irrelevant, spike in the book’s sales. A number of people suggest the increase in sales is due to the more covert nature of an ebook. Instead of being ashamed of the Mein Kampf book sitting on their coffee table, readers can store the book on their Kindle or iPad without worrying about others seeing there choice of reading. It’s impossible to know if this theory holds any water, but one thing is known here: Hitler’s book is being downloaded more now than in the past.
The book sat atop Amazon’s Propaganda & Political Psychology section as of yesterday. The book was also ranked 12th in the Politics and Current Events section of the Apple bookstore on Wednesday. Understandably, the Jewish community is troubled by the book’s recent spike in popularity.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles is concerned enough by the sales that he’s calling for publishers to only sell annotated versions of the book.
"We know that the facts of life are that you cannot censor any idea from the Internet, it's simply impossible," Cooper told Fox News yesterday. "But an annotated version is important for someone who doesn't know the context of the time and so that they're not reading pure genocidal hate."
The introduction of the book posted on Amazon tries to briefly frame the historical context surrounding on the book, but leaders in the Jewish community feel the short introduction alone is not sufficient. Here is an excerpt of the introduction from Amazon:
“Beyond the anger, hatred, bigotry and self-aggrandizing, 'Mein Kampf' is saddled with tortured prose, meandering narrative and tangled metaphors (one person was described as "a thorn in the eyes of venal officials")," the desceiption reads. "That said, it is an incredibly important book.”
In response to the book’s rising sales, the Anti-Defamation League has offered an introduction of their own to the book that they hope will help readers properly frame the material they’re about to read.
“We believe it is important for Mein Kampf to continue to be published as it does have value to historians and students of World War II and Holocaust history,” Holocaust survivor and Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman said in a statement. “There is always the concern, however, that some people who are already infected with anti-Semitism will misuse the book in an attempt to glorify Hitler or reinforce their own warped views about Jews. We think the only constructive way for the book to be published is with an introduction that explains the historical context and the impact of the thinking behind Hitler’s words, which led right up to the murderous, racist Nazi regime.”