A teachers’ association in Germany says an annotated edition of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ should be taught in senior high school to help “inoculate” teenagers against political extremism.
The Nazi leader’s anti-Semitic diatribe has not been printed in Germany since the end of World War II, but an annotated and critical edition is set to be published next year.
The rights to the book have been held for 70 years by the state of Bavaria, which has refused to allow reprints, but the copyright runs out at the end of 2015.
German authorities still plan to prosecute publishers of unedited reprints on charges of “inciting racial hatred”.
However, Munich’s Institute of Contemporary History plans to publish in January ‘Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition’ which adds context to the hateful rant with historical commentary in some 3,500 annotations.
The teachers’ association proposed that selected passages from the book should be taught to students aged 16 and over, reported the online edition of business newspaper Handelsblatt.
Educators could not ignore the inflammatory text anyway, said the association’s head Josef Kraus, citing the lure of the forbidden for young people.
Instead, the propaganda pamphlet should enter the curriculum and be presented “by savvy history and politics teachers” as that this could help “inoculate adolescents against political extremism”.
Prominent German Jewish community leader Charlotte Knobloch opposed the idea, telling the newspaper that using the “profoundly anti-Jewish diatribe” as teaching material would be irresponsible.
The educational policy spokesman for the centre-left Social Democrats, lawmaker Ernst Dieter Rossmann, supported the teachers’ body.
“‘Mein Kampf’ is a terrible and monstrous book,” he told the Handelsblatt.
“To historically unmask this anti-Semitic, dehumanising polemical pamphlet and to explain the propaganda mechanism through appropriately qualified teachers is a task of modern education.”
In times of rising right-wing populism, teaching humanist values and democratic principles is indispensable, he argued.
“A critical analysis of ‘Mein Kampf’ — this antithesis of humanity, freedom and openness to the world — can strengthen resistance against these temptations and dangers.”