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Mein Kampf and other books of hatred

There is one year until the rights to the book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler expire

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

There is one year until the rights to the book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler expire. Afterwards, the rights to the book become available to whoever wishes to publish it. According to German copyright law, a book enters the public domain 70 years after the author’s death. The book's copyright was registered again in Germany in 1945 was written by Hitler 20 years before that. Hitler ensured that the book was very popular among Germans, so much so that a quarter of a million copies were sold in 1933. Part of that wealth, no doubt, allowed him to buy his new Mercedes. When his party won and he took over as chancellor, he ordered that his book be distributed for free to soldiers and newly-weds. Germany, which owns the rights to the book until the end of next year, plans to ban selling and distributing the book under its anti-terror law.

The ban is planned for Germany, Holland and Poland, but the book is still available in France. The law allows for publishing it and selling it in the U.S. as well. Racists and fascists, including Nazis, are in general allowed to distribute their publications and books. Two rare copies of Mein Kampf were sold in Los Angeles in an auction a week ago.

Nazism is an ideology of hatred which possesses sick and weak minds. It is present in almost all societies under different names

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

It’s certain that Germany’s attempt to ban Mein Kampf will not prevent its spread in the world, thanks to technology and the ease of spreading ideas and publications despite legal measures against them.- even in China and Russia which punish anyone for selling it.

Will banning the book by law work? Arab governments which deal with the new technological reality with the same old mentality - pursuing and confiscating - are not alone in this as Germany too plans to prohibit Mein Kampf via the power of the law. So, will this prevent Nazi mentality and literature from being circulated underground?

The ideology of Nazism

Nazism is an ideology of hatred which possesses sick and weak minds. It’s present in almost all societies under different names and it’s based on rejecting others due to their race, religion, color, tribe or ideology. It’s not exclusive to ignorant people and mobs but it’s adopted by society’s elite and intellectuals who distinguish themselves by rejecting others from their social circles. Those who amplify this hatred are the political populists who find a way to progress by appealing to the people’s sentiment. Hitler himself, with his two volume book Mein Kampf, incited German society, which was defeated in World War I, to blame the Jews, communists, gypsies and other communities who weren’t pure Germans. Who would have thought a book would lead the world to a moral crisis and a fierce war and then the death of millions?

Mein Kamp, which is sold and celebrated even in the countries which Hitler despised such as the Arab world and India, will be tested by our ability to defeat racism and market the idea of co-existence in a world where borders fell and the tone of hatred increased. Prohibiting some books of hatred and allowing some has some sort of hatred. There’s no decisive solution to prevent the birth of a new Hitler anywhere in the world. The only way to confront the possibility is to fight hatred as an intellect and a practice.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 2, 2014.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.