Il Giornale, a right-wing Italian tabloid, is giving away free copies of Mein Kampf, causing shock and condemnation in Italy.
The anti-Semitic manifesto was written by Adolf Hitler to outline his ideology and forms the basis for Nazism. It was written in 1924 and spells out his hatred for the Jews.
“Know it in order to reject it” is the rationale the paper has given to explain the giveaway.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi denounced the paper’s move by tweeting, “I find it sordid that an Italian daily is giving away Hitler’s Mein Kampf. I embrace the Jewish community with affection. #neveragain”
The Italian Jewish community also denounced the giveaway, stating, “It is a vile act, light years away from any in-depth learning or study about the Holocaust,” said Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, describing the initiative as “indecent”.
But Il Giornale defended the move as an educational initiative. “Reading Mein Kampf is a real antidote to the toxicity of national-socialism.”
The version published by the paper is the 1937 version with annotations by the historian Francesco Perfetti. The manifesto was distributed with the first of a series of eight history books about the Third Reich.
For 70 years, the German state of Bavaria, which owned the copyright on the book, refused to allow it to be published out of respect for the victims of the Holocaust and to prevent its use in inciting hatred. On January 1st this year, the book moved into the public domain. A special version was printed at that time for the first time since World War II. This version also included annotations by historians.
Il Giornale does not have a reputation for anti-Semitism. It is a staunch right-wing publication with especially ardent views on immigration. But Italy is especially sensitive to national-socialism issues due to the close relationship between Hitler’s Nazi party and the fascist regime of Italy’s Benito Mussolini.