Tag Archives: Third Reich

Italian newspaper derided for giving away free copies of ‘Mein Kampf’

When “Mein Kampf” fell into the public domain on January 1 this year, enabling it to be freely printed, often those that choose to do so justified it as the publication of a historical document. The merits of that argument were undoubtedly dubious although the German edition, published for the first time since World War II, included critical annotations by historians.

However, on Saturday, a right-wing Italian newspaper was giving away free copies of Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic manifesto in a move which, unsurprisingly, has sparked both shock and condemnation.

“Know it in order to reject it” was the weak justification given by conservative tabloid Il Giornale. Known for its right-wing position, notably over the question of immigration, Il Giornale has a circulation of around 200,000.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi quickly denounced the initiative on Twitter, writing: “I find it sordid that an Italian daily is giving away Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’. I embrace the Jewish community with affection. #neveragain”

Il Giornale

It was also denounced by Italy’s 30,000-strong Jewish community,  “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.”

The paper said the text was being freely distributed alongside the first of a series of eight history books on the Nazi Third Reich.

For 70 years, the German state of Bavaria which was handed copyright of the book in 1945, refused to allow it to be republished out of respect for the victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.

One German bank – Two Jewish controversies

Bank Sparkasse, one of the largest banks in Germany, has managed to generate two separate controversies in a matter of months but with one common theme.

In the first, Israel’s embassy in Berlin together with local and international Jewish groups sharply criticized the banking group for allowing an opponent of the existence of Israel, who likened the Jewish state to the Third Reich, to deliver a talk in its office space titled “Jew against Zionism.”

In the second, a Sparkasse bank teller refused to open an account for an Israeli living in Berlin, telling him that Israeli passport holders are under embargo.sparkasse

Lilian Rosengarten, an activist from New York, spoke last year in a Sparkasse office of the town of Düren, near Aachen. She is a member of the International Anti-Zionist network.

Dr. Robert Neugröschel, the head of the 1,000-member Jewish community in greater Aachen, which includes Düren, told The Jerusalem Post at the time that the Rosengarten talk was a “disgrace and of course anti-Semitic.”

Hildegard Förster-Heldmann, a Green Party politician who heads the Darmstadt municipal cultural affairs committee, said, “A comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany is absurd, disrespects the descendants of the Nazi victims and belittles the criminality of Nazi Germany.”

Efraim Zuroff
Efraim Zuroff

The action of the bank came in for further criticism from Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter who suggested the people at Sparkasse “should know better.”

“The Ostfriesen paper wrote earlier this year about an exhibit addressing the banking network’s role under the Third Reich, saying that “Sparkasse loyally served the Nazi regime.”

A Sparkasse spokesman, Dirk Hürtgen, suggested the bank “Could not establish that anti-Semitic thoughts were expressed in connection with the Düren municipal museum.”

Asked by the Post reporter if he agreed with Rosengarten’s statement that Israel is an apartheid state, Hürtgen said, “I can’t judge that.” He asked “why is it relevant whether anti-Semitism took place” in the room and noted that there are “different opinions.”

Meanwhile, just today, Ynet News reported that Israeli, Yakir Avraham, went to the Sparkasse’s branch in the Alexanderplatz area of Berlin, and when he gave the teller his Israeli passport in order to open a bank account, the teller took the passport and went into another room to check it. She returned a few minutes later and said “I’m very sorry, but we cannot open up a bank account for you here. We aren’t allowed to open accounts for citizens of countries under embargo.”

Avraham was reported as saying, “I was in shock at first. How did it get to the point that they treat us like lepers? I took my passport and left the bank.”

The bank management were challenged as to whether there was a specific bank policy concerning Israel, and what they meant by “a country under embargo.”

The bank responded by claiming, “It’s clear that this isn’t our business policy. This is an unfortunate mistake made by a young colleague who is still in training, and who didn’t know how to deal with the situation properly. She deeply apologizes for the mistake. We hope that Mr. Avraham accepts our explanation and apology.”