It is true that Mein Kampf made Adolf Hitler a very rich man. Originally written as a political tract, but also as a way of defraying the costs of Hitler’s treason trial in 1924, the book was translated into 16 languages and had sold around eight million copies by the time of its author’s death in 1945. In the interim, it was estimated to have earned around $1 million per year in royalties, which funded Hitler’s purchase and expansion of his Alpine retreat, the Berghof near Berchtesgaden.
Yet, for all his apparent wealth, Hitler was a rather ascetic character, who had little ‘feel’ for money, and – once chancellor and führer – had little need of it. Indeed, he even chose to forgo his Reich chancellor’s salary and, as his valet recalled, never carried any money on his person.
Thus, the royalties from Mein Kampf were administered by Hitler’s business manager, Max Amann, a director of his publisher, the Franz Eher Verlag in Munich – one of the richest and most influential publishing houses in Nazi Germany.
Prior to his death in April 1945, Hitler wrote a will in which he left most of his possessions and estate to the Nazi Party. However, with the abolition of the latter after the war, along with the Franz Eher Verlag, Hitler’s remaining assets and estate were transferred to Bavaria, the state of which he was a registered resident.
Bavaria has prevented publication of the book in German-speaking territories, and has sought, with limited success, to restrict it elsewhere. Under German law, however, that copyright expired on the 70th anniversary of the author’s death – 30 April 2015.
Heavy demand for the first edition of Hitler’s Mein Kampf to be printed in Germany since his death took its publisher by surprise in January 2016, with orders received for almost four times the print run, the Guardian reported. The BBC has reported in January 2017 that the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich will launch a sixth print run.
Answered by Roger Moorhouse, author of The Devils’ Alliance (Basic Books, 2014) and Berlin at War (Bodley Head, 2010).