BERLIN, Germany – German Education Secretary Johanna Wanka is calling for the country’s schools to incorporate a critical edition of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” into lessons on politics and history.
The Institute for Contemporary History in Munich is set to release a heavily annotated version of the Nazi leader’s manifesto when a copyright held for 70 years by the state of Bavaria expires January 1, Russia Today reports.
The book was never specifically banned in Germany, but Bavaria has prevented its publication since 1945, according to the news site.
Wanka told Passauer Neuen Presse the critical version of the book, which is “aimed at promoting political education and is easily comprehensible,” comes with 3,500 annotations from scholars that ensure Hitler’s views about eugenics, race theory, and other topics don’t go “uncontradicted.”
Wanka said “students have questions, and it is right that they can get rid of these in the classroom and talk about the issue,” according to RT.com.
Wanka’s suggestion follows similar calls by the country’s teachers union, the German Teachers Association, to allow educators to use the book in an academic setting to “inoculate adolescents against politic extremism,” The Trumpet reports.
GTA president Josef Kraus believes that blocking the book from schools would only increase students’ interest in its message.
“What’s much more dangerous is remaining silent or completely banning the book,” he said. “Nowadays, with the power of the Internet, everyone has access to everything. So it’s more important to me that something like this can be discussed in a differentiated and critical manner.”
Josef Shuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, seems to agree with Kraus, as does the country’s Social Democrats.
“Knowledge of Mein Kampf is still important to explain National Socialism and the Holocaust,” Shuster told RT.com.
“Mein Kampf is a terrible and monstrous book,” Dieter Rossmann, spokesman for the Social Democrats, told the Telegraph. “It is appropriate as part of a modern education for a qualified teachers to unmask the history of this anti-Semitic inhuman pamphlet and explaining the propaganda mechanism behind it.”
Some of Germany’s Jewish leaders disagree.
Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria chairwoman Charlotte Knoblock said “this deeply anti-Semitic diatribe of all texts does not belong in the classroom.”
“So long as German students know virtually nothing about the Jews, other than the Holocaust, and don’t learn about the Jewish religion, the flowering of Jewish life in Germany before 1933 and the accomplishments for which our country owes the Jews, using that profoundly anti-Jewish diatribe as teaching material would be irresponsible,” she told Haaretz, according to The Trumpet.
Interestingly, the release of “Mein Kampf” in January comes on the heels of a wildly popular new German movie called “Guess Who’s Back” about a resurrected Adolf Hitler attempting to make his way in modern German society, the site reports.
The film’s director, David Wnendt talked with The Washington Post in October about the warm welcome the Hitler actor received from most Germans while shooting the movie in 2014. Many would salute, or take selfies, others would complain to the actor about how foreigners are ruining the country, he said.
“These extreme opinions are not coming from the fringes, but from the center,” Wnendt said. “Not neo-Nazis, but normal middle-class people.”