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Hitler's Mein Kampf to be back on shelves, but what about the royalties?

Blassy Boben | Updated on: 3 December 2015, 20:41 IST
QUICK PILL
  • Adolf Hitler\'s autobiography Mein Kampf will be in the public domain as on 31 December 2015. In January 2016 The Institute for Contemporary History in Munich will publish a 2,000 page long edition of Mein Kampf - titled Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition.
  • But who gets to keep the profits? And who\'s been keeping the royalties all this time?

Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf is back on German bookshelves. But who's been getting his royalties? And hasn't it always been around? Surely, you've seen a copy or two at your local book store, or stumbled across an e-book version of the same.

Jaico Publishing House was the first to publish the book in India. This, as the Telegraph explains, is because books in India are free of copyright after they cross 25 years of existence.

Why is the reprint important?

In January 2016, a team from The Institute for Contemporary History in Munich will publish a 2,000 page long edition of Mein Kampf - titled Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition.

This is a controversial issue as there have been concerns that the book is a dangerous addition to the existing refugee crisis and anti-Semitism. Here's a survivors account of one of the infamous concentration camps under Hitler:

Adolf Hitler has no known heirs. After his death in 1945, his estate and fortune - including the copyright to Mein Kampf - became the property of the state of Bavaria.

However, Bavaria's rights to the book runs out on 31 December, 2015 - 70 years after Hitler's death. The annotated version - to be priced at 59 euros (approx Rs 4150) - will be published after this date, after which the book will remain in the public domain.

Where have the royalties been going all this while?

Hitler copyrighted Mein Kampf in 1925. The book was translated into 16 languages by 1939 - proceeds of which went to the Fuhrer.

Historian David Irving chronicled that "from 1942 to 1979, profits from the US edition of Mein Kampf went to the government's War Claims Fund for victims of World War II".

In 2000, US publishing house Houghton Mifflin announced that it would donate all royalties from the sales of Mein Kampf (from 1979 when it purchased the rights from the US government) to charity - a practice it continues till date.

The rights of the book in UK belong to Random House. The publishing house donated all the royalties to the German Welfare Council, which in 2001 announced that half of the royalties would be returned. Random House later said the money would be given to another charity.

Charities and publishers have been wary of accepting royalties from the book for fear of appearing to agree with the dictator's ideologies. With Mein Kampf entering the public domain in 2016, controversies over those who profit from the sale of the book will also rear their head.

First published: 3 December 2015, 20:41 IST
 
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