Turkey's interest in Hitler continues

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 8/21/2009 12:00:00 AM | VERCİHAN ZİFLİOĞLU

‘Mein Kampf' by Adolf Hitler has been banned in Turkey through the efforts of the German government, but interest in the dictator is still high. Nokta Publishing has released ‘Mein Kampf II,' which the company claims to be the sequel to Hitler's first, but arguing that it does not contain racist opinions. The publishing house refuses to comment on where they got the publishing rights

The works of Adolf Hitler, perhaps history’s bloodiest dictator, are still attracting enough interest in Turkey that Nokta Publishing has released “Kavgam II – Adolf Hitler’in ikinci kitabı” (Mein Kampf II – The Second Book by Adolf Hitler). Nokta said it is Hitler’s sequel to the banned original.

[HH] ‘Everybody should read the book. It is not racist’

Ahmet Seyrek, an editor for Nokta Publishing, recommended the book to everybody. “There are no racist opinions in this book. It focuses completely on Europe,” Seyrek told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “Hitler talks about his views on the European Union he was imagining to be formed in the future and the foreign policy of Germany.”

Seyrek said the book was named “Mein Kampf II” intentionally. “This name was chosen just for commercial purposes. If we called it ‘The Follow up to Mein Kampf,’ nobody would be interested.”

The publishing rights of the book have been purchased from abroad, according to Seyrek, who refused to comment on the issue. “I believe it is sufficient for the public to know the copyright was purchased from abroad. For now, I am unable to release any information more than this.”

[HH] First printing in Turkey in 1939

Journalist Hüseyin Yalçın first translated “Mein Kampf,” the banned book written by Hitler, into Turkish in 1939 and Altındağ Publishing published it. Then the book was published by dozens of large and small publishers until its ban in 2007. According to the publishers, “Mein Kampf” stood its ground as a bestseller in Turkey for years. Not only on the shelves of bookstores, “Mein Kampf” turned out to be one of the books Turkish readers were most interested in at secondhand book stores and street stands of sellers of pirated books. “Mein Kampf” was always among the most wanted books, especially at times when nationalist views would be fueled during heated ideological debates. 

One of the most important factors in the publishers’ choice for this book was the copyright issue. The book was released by dozens of publishers throughout the years, with the subtitle “Translated from the original” but according to copyright law, royalties needed to be paid to the beneficiaries of the writer for 70 years after his or her death. For years, the book was published over and over without any problems, but the ban came when Bilge Karınca Publishing published it again in 2001. It was discovered that the royalties belonged to the state of Bavaria in Germany and the German government filed a criminal complaint against the publisher. The case was decided rapidly and the book was banned from publishing.  

[HH] ‘We may publish it again if we think it would be commercially advisable’

Sedat Tekin from Bilge Karınca Publishing said a fine of 100,000 euros was decided, although Germany dropped the charges. According to Tekin, all the copies in their stocks and related documents on computers were confiscated. Tekin said they might publish the book again, despite the court decision: “The royalty rights will end on the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s death. We may publish the book again if we think it would be commercially advisable. We have been labeled as an anti-Semitic publisher in the eyes of the public. But everybody else was publishing it; so did we, that is all.”

Tekin also commented on the sequel to “Mein Kampf” by Nokta publishing, and argued that Hitler did not write the book. “How can ‘Mein Kampf’ be banned and ‘Mein Kamf II’ is not, I cannot comprehend. If the first is banned, so should the second; that is unfair.”

[HH] The publishers obeyed the ban

Tekin said the book “Mein Kampf” is still on the market and can be found at bookstores and shopping malls. Israeli Consul-General Mordehai Amihai had also said in an interview with the Daily News that the book can be found in many places. Despite claims that the book is widely available in Istanbul bookstores, the Daily News was not able to find any along the bustling İstiklal Avenue or in major shopping centers.

Mustafa Başarslan from Pandora Bookstore said no bookstore is selling the book because it is banned. Başarslan said it is forbidden even to keep “Mein Kampf” in stock and when it was on the market, mostly racist publishers were publishing it. “The book was on the bestseller lists in those years. They were selling it for 5 liras since there was no copyright problem.” Officials of Mephisto Bookstore also agreed with Pandora and said the book has not been on sale in any bookstore since 2006.


Hasan Anamur, president of the Association of Translation, said Turkey has a lot of potential for readers of “Mein Kampf.”

“This potential is also an important pointer of the nationalist fraction in our country,” he said, adding that he is against the banning of books in democratic societies no matter what. “If we educate the individuals well, their preferences would evolve in the right direction. An individual with a fine education knows what to read and what not to.”



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