The German state of Bavaria, which owns the rights to Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, plans to continue to ban the book after copyright expires in 2015.
According to the BBC, officials in Bavaria will not be releasing an edited version of the book as planned.
Of course, anyone is Bavaria can read Hitler’s drivel online, and Bavaria’s prohibition is unlikely to stop anyone interested in reading Mein Kampf from doing so.
Although the decision from Bavarian officials is unlikely to stop Hitler’s work from being read, it does highlight Europe's far from ideal relationship with free speech.
In Germany, the Nazi Party is banned and denying the Holocaust is a punishable offense. Other countries, such as Austria, Poland, and Hungary also have legislation that punishes denial of the Holocaust.
Unsurprisingly, memories of the persecution of the Jews in Europe under the Nazi’s still has the power to influence policy. The Bavarian Science Minister, Ludwig Spaenle, said, “Many conversations with Holocaust victims and their families have shown us that any sort of reprint of the disgraceful writings would cause enormous pain.”
As Reason’s Jacob Sullum noted last year when writing about Germany’s relationship with Scientology, similar legislation banning Holocaust denial or the publication of books like Mein Kampf would be considered "unambiguously unconstitutional in the United States":
The same government that has targeted Scientology because of its alleged threat to "pluralistic democracy" also uses that rationale to justify bans on hate speech, Holocaust denial, symbols and books associated with the Nazi regime, and ethnically divisive political groups. All those policies would be unambiguously unconstitutional in the United States, where the government is not allowed to suppress opinions, religious or not, based on the harm that might flow from them.
Laws against Holocaust denial and bans on books are illiberal and should not be enacted. That said, it is worth remembering that although the Second World War may have ended decades ago many Jews in Europe recently reported a rise in anti-semitism.