Gordon Crovitz: The Battle Over 'Mein Kampf'

Roundup: Talking About History

Gordon Crovitz is a media and information industry advisor and executive, including former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, executive vice president of Dow Jones and president of its Consumer Media Group.

Officials in the German state of Bavaria never wanted to publish "Mein Kampf," the book written by Adolf Hitler that has been unavailable in Germany since the end of World War II. The Internet has now made them do it.

The government of Bavaria inherited the copyright to "Mein Kampf" in 1945, when the state took over the Nazi party publishing house Eher-Verlag as part of the de-Nazification program. Under German law, copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author, which in this case means in 2015.

The text is available on many websites, making it impractical to continue suppressing the book. Instead, Bavaria announced last week that it will issue an edition that includes scholarly critiques of Hitler's bitter themes of anti-Semitism, German expansion into the territory of its neighbors, and his conceit of a 1,000-year Aryan empire...

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