Fury over Mein Kampf in Swiss bookshops

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.

Fury over Mein Kampf in Swiss bookshops

“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? “

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.

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Nazi gathering planned for Sunday

An annual Nazi march scheduled to take place on Sunday is expected to attract double the numbers that attended last year.

The police are on high alert following rumours that some 300 right-wing extremists plan to gather on Sunday on the Rütli, the mountain meadow in canton Uri where the first oath of the independent Swiss Federation was thought to have been sworn.

Similar gatherings of sympathizers and members of the Nationally Oriented Swiss Party have occurred in the past few years, online news site 20 Minuten reported.

According to Bernese anti-fascists, the party is supported by the Hammerskins and the Neo-Nazi Blood and Honour groups, some of the country's most violent right-wing extremists.

The Federal Intelligence Service will be assisting the police on the day, who are ready to intervene should any trouble break out, including in the event of a breach of the anti-racism laws.

Police are expected to take a tough line against the marchers; 64-year-old man was recently sentenced under the anti-racism legislation for raising his right flattened hand at the party’s march in 2010.

The Young Socialist Party says it is furious that the demonstration is being allowed to proceed. They are frustrated that the police can only intervene in the event of a breach of the law, and have requested the Swiss Public Welfare Society (SGG), the body responsible for the upkeep of the meadow, to stop the march from going ahead.

The Young Socialists are now considering calling their own counter-demonstration on Sunday. They have also requested that the SGG themselves demonstrate, but this has been refused by the society’s leaders.

The SGG is more an organ of the federation than its own political body, and a political demonstration against the right-wing extremists could therefore be interpreted as being by the government itself.