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Fury over Mein Kampf in Swiss bookshops

Lyssandra Sears · 11 Apr 2012, 10:59

Published: 11 Apr 2012 11:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Apr 2012 10:59 GMT+02:00

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Anti-racism groups have expressed indignation that Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”) is freely available in bookstores in the Swiss region of Romandie.

“How can the works on the origin of the Holocaust, written by the instigator of the worst horrors, be found on bookstore shelves?” asked lawyer and Geneva President of the League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, Philippe Kenel.

Yet according to booksellers, there is still demand for the controversial book, which was written by the Nazi leader in the 1920s, before his rise to power. Unlike in Germany, the book is not banned from sale in Switzerland.

“Last year we sold more than 30,” bookseller Frederic Greffet told online news site Le Matin.

“The book is available in any case, whether on order or in stock,” Greffet said. “Customers were asking us regularly. It does not change much whether it is seen or not."

The director of bookshop Payot, Pascal Vandenberghe, said he believed it should be up to the reader to make his or her mind up about its contents and pointed out that there is an eight-page warning at the beginning.

“The duty of the bookseller is not to censor or spread propaganda,” said shop owner, Françoise Berclaz. “This book is part of history. How can we judge and form an opinion on what happened if we do not have access to it? "

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A Parisian-based company called New Editions Latina holds the exclusive rights to the French translation, and is reported to have links with the nationalist right. This has led one Geneva bookshop owner, Damien Malfait, to encourage customers not to buy the French version.

“I'm not for censorship, but I inform them that this money will be used for right-wing ideological purposes,” he said.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

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Your comments about this article

2012-04-19 04:19:48 by pfalzfreund
The only way to understand radicals is to read what they have written. After reading Mein Kampf I am convinced that those who followed Hitler were seriously impaired or deluded. Those who would follow him today after reading history are just plain sick. When a book is banned it gains power as something of which the State is afraid. Publish, analyze, expose. These are the weapons that will defeat extremists.
2012-04-14 19:32:58 by Garryladouceur
The book does promote a perverse ideology. I use here the law as an example and perhaps reflect on the reason why it is banned in Austria for example. The law (§ 3 d.) states that, "Whoever publicly or before several people, through the printing of disseminated writings or illustrations to one of under § 1 or § 3 prohibited acts requests, strives or seeks to induce others, especially for the purpose of glorifying or advertising the aims of the Nazi Party, its institutions or measures, provided that it does not constitute a serious criminal offense, will be punished with imprisonment from five to ten years, or up to twenty years for offenders who themselves or their actions are deemed especially dangerous." It is logical to suggest, that since this book provides material support to an extreme group of the right, it has an underlying value that is supportive of anti swiss sentiment. The state of Bavaria has in fact purchased the rights to this book to prevent it from legal sale. The book is also available via the internet for free. I suggest, that if you must read this and without attempting to promote piracy, you might find a copy on the internet, to assist your studies so to speak. I am sure that as a decent person you do not wish to support the ends of a racist group. and if you do, well you have photos of adolf pinned on your wall and there is not much logic can do to disuade you. There are many books that are banned in Switzerland. Perhaps not in bookstores, however in any Catholic environment. I am thinking of the thousands of books banned by the Vatican where its influence is law to catholics.
2012-04-12 15:05:49 by fredch
I read it years ago. About as interesting as watching grass grow. Banning and burning books was the Nazi way, so why do that now?
2012-04-11 16:22:32 by smeghead
It's a book, I read it mayn years ago, and i am still not a racist or anti-Semitism when a book is banned it then sells like music etc etc
2012-04-11 14:40:39 by DavidtheNorseman
Ever read it? I did and that fellow Hitler is nuttier than a fruitbar in his own words (I read it at the same time as Ho Chi Minh and Marx - all nutters, though Minh at least was mostly a Vietnamese first and ideologue second by my read). I fail to see how Mein Kampf could possibly help the extreme right but maybe my Norse-Scots perspective just doesn't connect. Mein Kampf starts by identifying societal ills and then takes a wild turn and goes crazy as to the source of those ills ("Sin" is too close to home a concept, I guess for these folks..).
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