Mein Kampf royalties to go to Holocaust survivors

Dutch edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. published 1939 (from the left); Two-volume annotated edition of Mein Kampf, 2016 (from the right) Source: Wikipedia/ Institut für Zeitgeschichte

In 1923, Adolph Hitler wrote his infamous tome, “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle), while in jail for his part in the Beer Hall Putsch, a failed coup attempt. The book a poorly written reference manual for his extreme right-wing, anti-Semitic and anti-communist philosophy that formed the blueprint for the destruction that became the Holocaust and the Second World War.

The end of the war did not mean the end of the publication of this book and since 1933 the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, have continuously published the book or a version of it. The U.S. Justice Department were recipients of the proceeds of the sale of the book during the war years but in 1979 the publisher reclaimed their royalty rights and kept the proceeds for themselves. In 2000 they started to donate the proceeds in support of anti-Semitism.

In 2015 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced a decision to no longer restrict the proceeds to those organisations working against anti-Semitism but to give money to a wider spread of cultural organisations in the Boston area. This change of direction caused an outcry, and Jewish advocates were quick to speak out against this change of policy.

Following the outcry the publisher put out a communiqué indicating that they were not working with Combined Jewish Philanthropies to assist victims of the Holocaust. Andrew Russell, the publisher’s director of corporate social responsibility, said in a statement, “Moving forward, the proceeds from “Mein Kampf” will be donated to Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Boston for ‘direct support of the health and human services needs of (Holocaust) survivors.’”

JF&CS CEO Rimma Zelfand said in a supporting statement, “JF&CS will direct the grant money exclusively to support the needs of the Holocaust survivors we meet with every day. As Holocaust survivors grow increasingly frail, many of our clients have a far greater need for care than is covered by our existing funding.”

The decision was welcomed by many organisations working in the realm of anti-Semitism. Though there are no figures quoted and the publisher will not divulge the value of the royalties from this book, any donation is warmly received by these charitable institutions.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE