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Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ Gets New French Edition, With Each Lie Annotated

A new, heavily annotated version of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was published in France on Wednesday, aiming to break down his hate-filled, anti-Semitic ideology with expert analysis and a new translation that better conveys the original text’s muddled prose.

Published by Fayard, a French publishing house, the book — “Historicizing Evil: A Critical Edition of Mein Kampf” — runs to nearly 1,000 pages, with twice as much commentary as text. Scholars, researchers and teachers are the main target audience.

“Mein Kampf,” or “My Struggle,” the Nazi leader’s manifesto and memoir, first appeared as two volumes in 1925 and 1927 and was banned in Germany by the Allies in 1945. It was not officially published again there until 2016, when a team of scholars and historians released a nearly 2,000-page edition with thousands of annotations after a 70-year copyright held by the state of Bavaria expired.

The version published in France on Wednesday is an extended adaptation of that edition, with contributions from over a dozen experts and historians led by Florent Brayard, a French historian specializing in Nazism and the Holocaust, and Andreas Wirsching, the director of the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, which had led work on the German version.

Each of the 27 chapters is prefaced by an introductory analysis, and Hitler’s writing is meticulously annotated, line by line, with commentary that debunks false statements and provides historical context.

Fayard, which first started work on the project a decade ago, said the book was a “fundamental source to understand the history of the 20th century.”

Now that “Mein Kampf” is in the public domain, freely available online with little to no context, or sold by fringe far-right publishers, Fayard argued that it was urgent to publish a critical version that would deconstruct the text and guard against crude, uncritical translations that still circulate.

“To know where we are going, it is vital that we understand where we are coming from,” Sophie de Closets, the head of Fayard, wrote in a letter to booksellers explaining the reasoning behind the publication.

The book will be made available only by special order in bookstores with a price tag of 100 euros, or about $120, and all proceeds and profits from sales will go to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. The initial print run will be of about 10,000 copies, with some free copies set aside for public libraries.

The new edition also aims to better convey the jumbled mess of Hitler’s prose. Olivier Mannoni, the translator, told the newspaper Libération this week that he had stuck as closely as possible to the original text — a confusing rant combining anti-Semitic conspiracies, hateful nationalism, and obsessions over sexuality and hygiene.

Read entire article at New York Times