Annotated Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler goes on sale in Germany next month

A signed copy of a first edition of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf.
A signed copy of a first edition of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf.AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - For the first time since World War II, Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf will be printed in Germany in January as an annotated edition, the institute publishing it said on Tuesday.

The autobiographical text will return to the public domain at the start of the year and hit bookshops between Jan 8 and 11, said Andreas Wirsching, director of the Institute of Contemporary History (IFZ) in Munich.

The book, which adds context to the Nazi dictator's hateful rant with some 3,500 annotations, will be published in two volumes totalling 1,948 pages and sold at €59 euros (S$88), said Wirsching, who has been working on the project since 2009.

The first run of "Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition" would be limited to between 3,500 and 4,000 copies, he said.

Plans to publish the new version have been controversial and drawn fire especially from Jewish groups, who have argued the book is dangerous and should never be printed again.

But Wirsching said the re-publication of the text with expert commentary aims to "shatter the myth" surrounding the book, which Hitler wrote in 1924 while languishing in prison after a failed coup.

Authorities in the southern state of Bavaria were handed the copyright by Allied forces after World War II.

For seven decades, they have refused to allow it to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

But at the end of the year the copyright runs out so that Mein Kampf - which means "My Struggle" - falls into the public domain on Jan 1.

"This is not just a source" for the study of Nazi ideology, said the historian responsible for the project, Christian Hartmann.

"It is also a symbol and it is one of the last relics of the Third Reich."