German historians on campaign to get Mein Kampf republished

German historians want Adolf Hitler’s infamous manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” to be republished in the country before the copyright lapses in 2015.

Though widely available in the English-speaking world, the book’s publication has been banned in Germany since World War II and its resale is tightly regulated.

But German copyright law dictates that an author’s work enter the public domain 70 years after his or her death, and that deadline is fast approaching. Hitler killed himself in his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945.

Before that anniversary, historians want the German state of Bavaria — which controls the copyright because Hitler’s last official address was in Munich — to authorize an annotated version of “Mein Kampf.” They say a thorough, academic presentation that places Hitler’s work in historical context would be the best defense against radical right-wing groups and neo-Nazis who might want to use the book to advance racist agendas.

“The legends and myths connected with this book should be destroyed once and for all,” said Hans-Christian Taeubrich, director of the Documentation Center at the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, the Bavarian city where Hitler staged some of his most notorious mass rallies.

Bavarian lawmakers have routinely rejected calls to reprint the book for fear that it might be misused by right-wing extremists and out of respect for Holocaust victims.

A representative of Bavaria’s finance ministry, which manages the copyright, said that the decision not to republish was “commonly accepted and highly valued, especially by the Jewish community, domestically and abroad.”

The general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, told the Associated Press he does not object to a new academic edition.

“In principle, I’d rather see the book with commentary than printed in a normal version, or made available on the Internet,” Kramer said.

Hitler wrote the 700-page book after he was jailed in the aftermath of the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. After the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s, the book became a bestseller that made Hitler rich.