If “never again” is to be more than just a phrase, we cannot let Mein Kampf be a best-seller

by Thomas Docherty

Today, a cross-party report on anti-Semitism has been published which has my personal backing and that of our party leader. Anti-Semitism is a societal ill and the 34 recommendations of that report form an important roadmap to recovery. I was particularly concerned to read in the report about the increasing trend towards using Holocaust imagery and inappropriate Nazi comparisons in the context of debate on the Middle East conflict.

As readers might know, my opposition to racism and anti-Semitism is well established. Last month, I wrote on a related matter to the Culture Secretary asking him to consult on the sale of the notorious Mein Kampf, Hitler’s political philosophy which led to the systematic murder of six million Jews and others in the Holocaust.

In recent weeks and specifically following the horrendous Charlie Hebdo attacks the debate over “the right to offend” has served to underline the central importance of free speech in our society and to our democracy. Whilst I appreciate that some will disagree with me, I believe that the sale and distribution of Mein Kampf must be debated as it transcends the limits of acceptable discourse. There is, of course, historical value in its limited distribution and in proper academic study of its contents. However, the ease with which it can be obtained from online and other retailers is profoundly disturbing. Surely, we can’t be expected to believe that it’s ranking as a bestseller for Amazon arises from academic demand for the tome.

From humble beginnings, Hitler’s political design ended in unique horror of holocaust. The seeds sown by Mein Kampf are still inciting racial hatred and fuelling anti-Semitism today and it is no surprise that it has been banned in a number of other countries. The distribution of Mein Kampf twinned with the demeaning and trivialisation of the Holocaust is a very worrying trend. I was struck to read in the All-Party Parliamentary Report into Anti-Semitism during last summer that Hitler, Holocaust and Nazi were among the top 35 key words used on Twitter in relation to Jews. I was equally concerned to see that the term “Hitler was right” had trended across the world.

Inappropriate Holocaust imagery was not confirmed to online platforms but used by activists and public figures offline too. A third of last summer’s 541 anti-Semtic incidents used Holocaust –related language or imagery. We should be clear, the phrase “Hitler was right” is anti-Semitic. Comparisons between Israeli actions and Nazi Germany, as the all-party report explains, are “grossly misleading” and can “diminish the Holocaust” and any suggestion that the Jews as victims of the Nazis should ‘know better’ will cause extreme offense.

Whatever one’s perspective and passions in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict, we must not allow the demeaning of the Holocaust to become widespread. In doing so, as the respected Jewish communal organisation the Community Security Trust have said, we leave ourselves open to repeating it and failing to learn the lessons of history. I am pleased the all-party report has made recommendations about developing clear guidance on these matters and that all the party leaders have backed the report.

Only last month, we marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz. “Never Again” was the mantra we used but for it to have meaning, we need to work hard to ensure that rather than a phrase, it is a reality. Preventing Mein Kampf from obtaining best-seller status would be a good start.

Thomas Docherty is the member of Parliament for Dunfermiline and West Fife

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12 Responses to “If “never again” is to be more than just a phrase, we cannot let Mein Kampf be a best-seller”

  1. Gilbert says:

    Let’s see if we can get a politician using honest language for a change.

    Is “preventing Mein Kampf from obtaining best-seller status” your euphemism for banning a book?

    Once you get the point of the wedge in, what other books or speech might you want banned?

  2. Dave Roberts. says:

    I must say that not only was I unaware of your opposition to racism and anti semitism but I hhad also never heard of you at all.

    I have a copy of Mein Kampf on my bookshelf. It is the 1969 Pimlico edition reprinted many times and it highlights all of the contradictions in the book.

    The issues you raise aren’t new. They were dealt with in the Publisher’s Note on the first page. I reproduce that note here.

    There are those who object to the circulation of Mein Kampf because of the repugnance that all civilised people feel for its author. Others object on the grounds that its availability is damaging to to new understandings and friendships.

    In the view of the publisher there are powerful counter-arguments. Hitler brought tragedy to his people and to the world and yet he still has sympathisers today. Mein Kampf is both a compendium of their prejudices and ignorance and an introduction to Hitler’s mins and and methods. It is vital that this ” master of the inept, the undigested, the half baked and the untrue ” should be understood.

    Mein Kampf is a classic example of ” black ” political literature. It studies enable us to recognise the enemies of peace and democracy today. It is essential reading for all students of twentieth century history and its existence reminds us that we must remain vigilant it its eveil creed is to be contained.

    In his new introduction Professor Cameron Watt sets Hitler against his background, gives the origins and history of Mein Kampf and provides a full critical assessment of the book and its ideas.”

    Modern anti semitism isn’t a product of a revived far right but of political Islam and its left wing apologists.

  3. John P Reid says:

    If someone tells a lie relevant to today, say homosexuality nd Peadophilia are the same, and I’ve enterpretted. holy book, to say they question homosexuality, in reference to two men together beimg wrong ,and then say beat up gay people, then that is inciting hatred towards a group,

    You dont think, people are unaware of Mein a Kampf, and would approach it with wither, anti semetic attitudes which they may use to incited violence, or approach the book. Knowing its full of sick ideas, if someine of rational mind read mein kampf, not being anti semetic, or wanted to encourage violence, and then having read it,suddenly become Anti semetic and violent , then, I can’t believe that they were passive in the first place.

    Ban Tony Benns diaries, because he said in them, Stalin didn’t kill people he did more good than harm, chairman Mao was the greatest bloke of the 20th century?

  4. Sam Dale says:

    Labour should not be in the business of banning books. Firstly, it’s illiberal. Secondly, it’s unenforceable. Thirdly, it will adds mystique to the banned book.
    Restricting the sale of a 90 year old book would fuel interest in its contents and ultimately be self-defeating.
    Anti-semitism is shockingly on the rise in the UK and it is fair enough to start thinking and debating about ways to stop it. But there is little hard evidence that Mein Kampf is specifically inspiring anti-semitism beyond some circumstantial evidence that it sells well on Amazon.

  5. Richard Gadsden says:

    It’s hardly surprising that the #1 best-seller in “Fascism and Nazism” is Mein Kampf – it’s almost certainly the only book that any non-specialist has ever heard of in the entire category. It’s #62,306 overall. Marx & Engel’s Communist Manifesto, a book that is also mostly read for historical interest, is #1 in “Communism” (again, hardly a surprise), and is #1,205 overall. It’s dramatically more popular than Mein Kampf.

    To answer the question “Surely, we can’t be expected to believe that it’s ranking as a bestseller for Amazon arises from academic demand for the tome.” – well it’s comfortably outsold by the Communist Manifesto, by Aristotle’s Politics, by Plato’s The Republic, by Machiavelli’s The Prince. So yes, I’d guess that academic interest is a fair explanation. Heck, Hobbes’ Leviathan, a notoriously difficult book to read, has similar sales to Mein Kampf.

    The availability of out-of-copyright works in e-books for pennies has led to a big resurgence in the reading of the originals, rather than modern interpretive texts.

  6. Ex Labour says:

    Your answer to anti semitism is to ban books ? I suppose the irony is lost on you ? Mein Kampf is not the issue, millions of people have read it without resorting to violence or anti Jewish rhetoric, and banning it would probably boost sales anyway.

    Lets be clear also that the Nazi’s persecuted numerous groups of people not just Jews.

    The answer is education and explanation.

  7. Giles says:

    Have you really learnt nothing from the use of hate speech laws to cover up gang rape? Call yourself a socialist. Academics can read Mein Kampf with your permission but God forbid the unwashed be allowed freedom of speech and thought. We have already had 300,000 children on a database for hate speech, children of ten prosecuted, police investigating Undercover Mosque for exposing hate preachers. Will your war on our freedom of speech never end?

  8. Michael Worcester says:

    We are getting to an ear of Newspeak where you cannot voice your thoughts. I think that all viewpoints should be heard and challenged. If you start censoring/banning Mein Kampf because it advocates hatred of Jews then would have to look at banning the Koran, here are some choice quotes from the Koran with references

    •Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them(2:191)
    behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Qur’an (8:12)
    •Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorise the infidels (8:60)
    •Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them(2:191)
    •Kill the Jews and the Christians if they do not convert to Islam or refuse to pay Jizya tax (9:29)
    •Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable (3:85)
    •Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin and bellies
    •Do not hanker for peace with the infidels; behead them when you catch them (47:4)

    The scary thing is that IS are not a perversion of Islam they are following the Koran to the letter this is why moderate Muslims cannot win any argument that IS are not true to Islam.

  9. 07052015 says:

    Whilst this is no doubt an important story -possibly not the most important story at the moment.

    Come on lets here what labours foremost blog thinks,old dale must have a view.I mean even PM thinks they should pay their taxes(tho the 400k divi muddied the waters)

  10. John P Reid says:

    I think we should have a big funereal pyre and burn all the copies. Mein Kampf, but we mustn’t go down the line of those who burn books later burn people

  11. Madasafish says:

    Mr Docherty appears rather out of date.

    There is this thing called the internet where you can download anything from the Bible to a manual on bombmaking.

    Typical legislator’s view of the world: Ban something. Don’t think how it can be enforced.. that’s too difficult. Don’t think about the consequences: that’s too difficult.

    To post something like this on the very medium which would be used to undermine such a ban says s all we need to know about the depth of thought which has gone into it.

  12. Bob says:

    Must order a copy to see what it’s all about, maybe double up with Das Kapital or the Little Red Book.

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