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Manga Version of Hitler's Mein Kampf Sells 45,000

posted on 2009-09-06 12:22 EDT
Bavaria downplays manga as some ask Germany to lift ban on manifesto

The Japanese publisher East Press has sold 45,000 copies of the manga version of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's manifesto Mein Kampf, amid renewed calls to drop the manifesto's ban in Germany. It has been illegal to publish Mein Kampf in Germany since 1945, and the government enforces the ban through an unusual application of copyright laws.

Since the German state of Bavaria inherited the printing rights upon Hitler's suicide towards the end of World War II, the copyright holder (which is currently the Bavarian Finance Ministry) can prevent others from publishing the book in Germany. However, since the copyrights are set to expire in 2015 (the 70th anniversary of Hitler's death), some government and Jewish figures have called for publication under controlled conditions.

German Jewish author Rafael Seligmann called for its publication as early as 2004. In June, the Bavarian minister of science and research advocated a “decently prepared and well-grounded critical edition” to counter “charlatans and neo-Nazis" who "could seize this disgraceful work when Bavaria's rights run out.” Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany endorsed the possibility of an annotated edition on August 5 “to prevent neo-Nazis from profiting from it” and to “remove many of its false, persistent myths.”

However, Bavaria upheld the ban last month and rejected the Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History's request to publish the book. Bavarian Finance Ministry spokesperson Horst Wolf said, “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." On the separate matter of the manga version, the ministry told the Asahi Shimbun paper, "We have trouble considering manga as an appropriate medium for critically presenting this problematic material."

Kōsuke Maruo, a 32-year-old editor at East Press, explained why his company produced the manga version of Mein Kampf: "It is a famous book, but there are few who have read it. I think it is [studying] material for knowing Hitler, a man synonymous with 'devil,' and what sort of thinking created that level of tragedy." While his company had no expectations on the manga's sales, it has sold 45,000 copies since last November. That is above the 35,000-copy average of the other books in the Manga de Dokuha series from East Press.

East Press publishes 43 Manga de Dokuha guides for Karl Marx's Das Kapital, Dante's Divine Comedy, Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince, Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Antoine De Saint-Exupéry's Night Flight, William Shakespeare's King Lear, Stendhal's The Red and the Black, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, and other titles. One of the titles, Kenji Miyazawa's Night on the Galactic Railroad, has also been made into an anime movie by Gisaburô Sugii and Group TAC. Manga pioneer Osamu Tezuka created Adolf, a five-volume fictional manga portrayal of three men named Adolf — including Adolf Hitler. Viz Media published Tezuka's Adolf manga in North America.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, Forward


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