Should Britain ban Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’?

A Berlin museum exhibit on Jan 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, displays a photograph of Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler.
(Carsten Koall / Getty Images)

As the world observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a member of the British Parliament is urging his country to debate whether “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler’s political manifesto, should be banned.

The Guardian reports that Parliament member Thomas Docherty wrote a letter to Sajid Javid, Britain’s culture secretary, noting that “there is a compelling case for a national debate on whether there should be limits on the freedom of expression.”

Docherty, a Scottish member of the Labor Party, said he’s not necessarily advocating banning the book. “I’m not saying it should be banned, I am saying we should absolutely have a debate about whether or not it should be banned,” he said. “I think this is a debate we should have, and there is an irony if we censor a debate about the limits of free speech.”


The debate would be timely because of an apparent rise of anti-Semitism in Britain and Europe, Docherty said. Last month, a Jewish member of Parliament disclosed that he’s received five death threats because of his religion. A Jewish charity in Britain is set to release a study next month reporting that in 2014, anti-Semitic incidents “reached the highest level ever recorded in the UK.”

“Mein Kampf” has been out of print -- effectively banned -- in Germany and Austria for decades. The copyright to the book is owned by the German state of Bavaria, which has blocked its publication. But the copyright is set to expire later this year, raising the possibility that it could be printed in those countries again.

The book was banned in Russia in 2010. It is legal and in print in the United States, where it is appears in a number of English-language translations.

Docherty told the Guardian that he’s not suggesting that Britain ban all offensive books or movies. “I don’t think this is a debate about ‘The Satanic Verses,’ or the film ‘The Last Temptation of Christ.’ Both caused offense, but they don’t seek to incite hatred. ... What ‘Mein Kampf’ and books like it do is specifically set out to incite hatred. It is literally the manifesto for Nazism.”