- Central Council of Jews warned against making the book freely available
- The 2,000-page, two-volume work by Hitler goes on sale in January
For the first time since Hitler's death, Germany is publishing the Nazi leader's political treatise Mein Kampf, unleashing a highly charged row over whether the text is an inflammatory racist diatribe or a useful educational tool.
The 70-year copyright on the text, written by Hitler between 1924-1926 and banned by the Allies at the end of World War Two, expires at the end of the year, opening the way for a critical edition with explanatory sections and some 3,500 annotations.
In January the 2,000 page, two-volume work will go on sale after about three years of labour by scholars at Munich's Institute for Contemporary History.
But the Central Council of Jews in Germany has reservations, arguing the text, described by some community leaders as an 'anti-Semitic diatribe', should remain banned.
A copy of the book, pictured in Berlin, which will now be published in Germany for the first time in 70 years
'After the expiry of the copyright, there is a very big risk that this sorry effort of a work will be more widely available,' Council President Josef Schuster said in a statement.
Yet Schuster acknowledged that understanding it is important in explaining Nazism and the Holocaust. 'So there is nothing to object to if an academic edition with commentary is available for research and teaching,' he added.
Hitler wrote most of the first, highly autobiographical, volume while incarcerated in Landsberg prison after his failed Munich coup attempt in 1923. After his release, he wrote much of the second volume at his mountain retreat near Berchtesgaden.
In the book, a mix of personal experience and political ideology, he outlined his strategy. A bestseller after he became chancellor in 1933, it had by 1945 sold 12 million copies and been translated into 18 languages.
The publication is a big step for Germany, which is still struggling with the legacy of the Nazi era and the Holocaust.
Polls show deeply divided public opinion. A YouGov survey last month said 51 percent of Germans oppose a continuation of the ban. The state of Bavaria has until now repeatedly used the copyright transferred to it by the Allies to prevent a reprint.
Hitler biographer Peter Longerich told Reuters Germans have reached a stage where taboos are being broken.
Hitler emerges from the Nazi party's Munich headquarters as those loyal to him give the fascist salute
'We are probably entering a phase in which you can do more with Hitler and texts about him than you did 10 or 20 years ago.
In the age of mass media, taboos are constantly broken and texts cannot be locked away,' he told Reuters.
Other watersheds include the 2004 film Downfall, which explored the last days of Hitler's life, to this year's hit film Look Who's Back, an adaptation of a satirical novel about the reappearance of Hitler in modern times and becoming a celebrity.
Keenly aware of the controversy surrounding Mein Kampf, the Munich institute has stressed that the aim is to deconstruct propaganda and undermine any symbolic power the book still has.
To prevent any commercial exploitation of the sensitive text, the Institute is self-publishing. The first print run is expected to be up to about 4,000 copies.
German authorities have made clear anyone reprinting an unedited version will be subject to incitement laws.
But Germany's teachers association wants it used in schools.
"A professional treatment of excerpts in lessons can help immunise against political extremism," association head Josef Kraus told Handelsblatt.
Adolf Hitler really did only have one testicle - because of a medical condition, a German historian has claimed.
HITLER REALLY DID ONLY HAVE ONE TESTICLE, PRISON RECORDS SHOW
Adolf Hitler really did only have one testicle - because of a medical condition, a German historian has claimed
For decades, British schoolchildren have sung the line 'Hitler has only got one ball' as part of a wartime song that mocks the German tyrant.
But now researchers at the University of Erlangen say they have found prison documents that appear to back up what has long been considered a myth.
Files from the Landsberg prison show Hitler was examined by Dr Josef Brinsteiner in 1923 - and was found to have suffered from an undescended right testicle, according to historian Professor Peter Fleischmann.
His 'right-side chryptorchidism' was uncovered while he was in prison in 1923 after his failed Beer Hall Putsch, Fleischmann told Bild, according to the Local.
The condition occurs when one or both testicles fail to descend during childhood.
Sung to the tune of The Colonel Bogey March, the old wartime song had it that Hitler only had one testicle.
The morale-boosting ditty emerged at the beginning of the Second World War as part of moves to ridicule the Fuhrer and his fellow leaders.
It is not the first time the song's content has been addressed. For decades it was alleged that Hitler had lost his testicle at the battle of the Somme during the First World War.
The lyrics go: ‘Hitler has only got one ball, the other is in the Albert Hall. His mother, the dirty b****r, cut it off when he was small.’
An alternative version, which includes similar claims about leading Nazi members, has the lyrics: ‘Hitler has only got one ball, Goering has two but very small. Himmler is somewhat sim'lar, But poor old Goebbels has no balls at all.’