Communal leaders have expressed concern over the increase in sales of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi manifesto, Mein Kampf, but doubt that it signals a surge in antisemitism.
Amazon reported that the e-book version of Mein Kampf — translated as My Struggle — topped its UK propaganda and spin sales chart during 2013. It was also the bestseller on the site’s political science and ideology list.
Sales of the hard-copy version have also risen. Neilsen Book Data, which monitors around 95 per cent of books sold online and over-the-counter in the UK, told the JC this week that 4,755 copies had been sold in 2013, a 1.5 per cent increase on 2012’s figure of 4,687.
Rises have also been seen in Europe and the United States
Explanations for the increased interest in the book — in which Hitler set out his antisemitic Nazi ideology — have pointed to the cheap cost of the digital download — 99p — and the removal of the embarrassment factor of buying it in a bookshop.
Another suggestion is that the sales may reflect a surge in historical or academic interest in the period.
But Mark Gardner, director of communications at the Community Security Trust, a British antisemitism watchdog, said: “It is hard to think of any positive reasons why there should have been such a significant increase in Mein Kampf sales. It is, on the face of it, a worrying trend.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human rights group, felt there were “a number of issues at play here”.
He said: “The e-format removes any legal or social stigmas surrounding Hitler in Germany and elsewhere,” adding that the low price of the e-book was fuelling its popularity.
Holocaust survivor Abraham H Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, attributed the spike in sales to “morbid curiosity. People who might be embarrassed to buy the book feel more comfortable doing it online”.
While he was “not ready to conclude that the increase reflects a rise in bigotry and antisemitism”, he did recognise that “people who are already infected with antisemitism will misuse the book in an attempt to glorify Hitler, or reinforce their own warped views about Jews”.