Thursday, December 31, 2015

Question: What else ends tonight at midnight? (Hint: Think Hitler)

Answer: The copyright owned by the German state of Bavaria on Mein Kampf, Hitler's manifesto first published in 1925 and 1927.  That copyright expires on Dec. 31.
 Image result for mein kampf
Consequence: The book, whose publication has been banned in Germany since the end of World War II, may now be published there.  A German scholarly academy plans to publish a two-volume, 2,000-page edition of Mein Kampf early in 2016.  That edition will put Hitler's own version into historical context (and will refute its outright lies and expose its half-truths) with approximately 3,500 annotations.

Classroom Connection: Three stories (from New York TimesDeutsche Welle, and The New Republic) discuss the controversy that still surrounds the book.  These stories (and subsequent ones sure to be published soon) would be excellent to share with our students.  They explain the book's history and significance in the period of Hitler's rise to power.  And they address the question of how modern Germany is dealing with its past, both in its decision to allow publication of the book, as well as the scholarly interest in publishing such a detailed and heavily-scrutinized edition.

Set-up for a jigsaw activity: Divide the class into expert groups of three-students each (1s, 2s, and 3s), and give each expert group a different article.  Ask the students to read their assigned article and summarize it.  Then create three-student report groups (made up of students who read different articles) and ask them to collaborate and create one set of common notes, on loose-leaf paper or newsprint.

Then ask your students: Do you support or oppose publishing a new edition of Mein Kampf?  Will its publication promote a deeper understanding of the past, or give more fuel to intolerant views in the present?

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