10:09 GMT27 February 2021
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    Previously subject to a complete ban in Germany, Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf has sold 85,000 copies since a “critical version” of the semi-autobiographical book was released in January last year.

    A year on from the release of an annotated “critical edition” of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, the book has become a surprise bestseller, Germany's Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) said on Tuesday.

    “So far we have sold 85,000 books. The sixth edition will be released at the end of January. These figures have really overwhelmed us, nobody could have expected it,” the institute's director Andreas Wirsching told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

    The book was published in two volumes and in April reached the top of German magazine Der Spiegel's non-fiction bestseller list.

    The Institute decided to produce the book after the copyright to Mein Kampf expired at the end of 2015. The copyright had been transferred by the Allies to the Free State of Bavaria at the end of World War Two, and the state government had used its powers to prevent any new printing of the work.

    Since the expiration of copyright, production of Mein Kampf remains prohibited by German laws on incitement. However, Wirsching said that the publishers of the critical edition have not faced any legal action. 

    He told the newspaper that it would have been “irresponsible” to produce an  unannotated version of the book, an idea which has been expressed by one other publisher.

    “The right-wing Schelm-Verlag publishing house in Leipzig announced plans in mid-2016 to print Mein Kampf 'without the annoying comments of do-gooders.' We are not aware of any further projects of this kind,” Wirsching said.

    Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, which means “My Struggle,” between 1924 and 1926, during which time he served a nine-month prison sentence following the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. 

    In Mein Kampf Hitler wrote a semi-autobiographical account of his life and and outlined the manifesto of his party, which had been temporarily banned following the failed putsch. 

    The book represents the basis of Nazi ideology, including anti-Semitism, ideas of German racial superiority and the concept of Lebensraum (living space), the idea that Germans needed more space and should take that space from eastern Europe, and particularly Russia.

    Last month it was reported that Mein Kampf has gained popularity with Italian schoolchildren, according to a recent nationwide survey. The poll found that the book was among the top ten favorite books selected by children in ten Italian schools. Students wrote Mein Kampft among their responses despite the book being ineligible for the survey, which was supposed to include only Italian authors.

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