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New French edition of ‘Mein Kampf’ published

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The Polish academic edition of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ (L) is seen next to an original edition of the book from 1942 (R) on the table of Eugeniusz Cezary Król, author of the translation and historical commentary of the academic edition, in his flat in Warsaw, on January 15, 2021. – An academic edition of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” is being published in Poland this week for the first time, with its editor responding to critics by calling it “a homage to the victims”. Hitler’s inflammatory tract has been rarely published even after rights to the book, first published in 1925, became public domain in 2016. (Photo by Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP)

A new French edition of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was published on Wednesday with the text reflecting the “abominably badly written” original, according to its translator.

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One of the world’s most notorious books, first published in two tomes in 1924 and 1925, it laid out the ideological foundations for National Socialism including its embrace of violence and anti-Semitism.

The only current French translation, first published in 1934 and still in print, improves the often repetitive and turgid prose of the original, which is difficult to read even in German, according to French translator Olivier Mannoni.

“The rule at the time was to write in good French and to smooth over the asperities of the text,” said Mannoni, who spent five years on the new edition being published by Fayard, a major French publishing house.

Speaking at a press conference last month, Mannoni said his work was true to the “abominably badly written” original, half-written by Hitler during his time in jail, with all of its “dubious syntax” and “interminable and repetitive phrasing.”

The 1,000-page annotated translation includes around 300 pages of criticism and contextualisation of Hitler’s manifesto, which lays out his plans for expanding Germany’s borders and eliminating Jews.

It has been titled “Historicising Evil, A Critical Edition of Mein Kampf,” and will be free for public libraries and sold for 100 euros ($122), a deliberately high price intended to limit its distribution.

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Any profits will be given to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which maintains Nazi concentration camps as memorials and reminders of the devastating consequences of fascism.

“Mein Kampf,” which translates as “My Struggle,” entered the public domain in 2016, when copyright lapsed on the book.

That year a new critical German edition was published over two tomes that ran to 2,000 pages, which featured for weeks in best-seller lists.

A new Polish edition came out earlier this year.

The book is banned in some European countries including Austria and the Netherlands, but it can be found on the internet or as an e-book.

Opinion is split on the new editions, particularly among Jewish groups, some of which favour a complete ban while others argue in favour of scholarly, critical versions being made available for educational purposes.

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