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Germany divided over study of Mein Kampf in schools

A heavily annotated, critical edition of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf—which sold out almost immediately upon its publication this month—seems certain to be studied in German schools, but ministers are divided over whether the full text should be put in the hands of pupils.

On 8 January, the day of publication, Germany’s national association of teachers the Deutscher Lehrerverband reiterated its view, first expressed in December, that Mein Kampf could not be ignored by schools and should be introduced as an element of political history. Josef Kraus, the group’s president, said that by dealing with the text in the classroom, teachers could “contribute to immunising adolescents against political extremism”. This view was backed in December by Johanna Wanka, the federal research minister.

The text, which was essentially Hitler’s manifesto, written before he achieved real power, has been annotated over three years by researchers at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, the Bavarian Institute for Contemporary History. The end product features about 3,500 annotations, aimed at providing a scientific debunking and “demystification” of Hitler’s claims and theories.

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