Bavaria considers use of Mein Kampf in school curriculum

The Bavarian parliament was debating Thursday whether an annotated version of Adolf Hitler's opus Mein Kampf should be authorized for educational use in schools and other establishments.

The 2,000-page version of the text, which climbed to the top spot on Der Spiegel's nonfiction bestseller list this month, includes 3,700 annotations that attempt to provide context to Hitler's anti-Semitic rhetoric and lay bare his Nazi propaganda.

It was first released in January after the copyright handed over to a Bavarian ministry by the Allies after World War II expired. The ministry had refrained from republishing the text for seven decades for fear of stoking anti-Semitism.

Opposition parties in Bavaria, including the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Voters, are pushing for the book's use in schools to educate young people about the country's history.

A subdivision of Bavaria's Education Ministry is drafting a manual on how the book could be integrated into the curriculum. It is set to be completed in October.

Josef Kraus, head of the German Teachers' Association, said excerpts of the text should be used in the classroom to teach children about racism and extremism, but that a minimum age of 16 should be required.

Academics including Ulrich Baumgaertner of Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University argue that working with original sources is important for young people's understanding of historical events.

"Mein Kampf is the main source for understanding Nazi ideology," he said. "Under the National Socialists, the book became a bible for the movement - as an original source, it has particular significance."

Jewish community leaders, including Charlotte Knobloch - the former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany - argue against using the text in schools on the basis that it contains hate speech.

"I do not think Hitler's anti-Semitic concoction of hate is suitable for the classroom," Knobloch said Thursday. "I don't want to imagine what would happen if the bell rang before the lesson providing clarification of the book's misanthropic content is complete."

The annotated version made its debut on German bestseller lists in January and climbed to the top spot of Der Spiegel's nonfiction ranking two weeks ago. It has now sold 55,000 copies.

Last update: Thu, 28/04/2016 - 15:54
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