Sunday, March 27, 2005
James C. Helicke has never read the Quran which Churchill compared to Mein Kampf. IF he had read it, he would not be puzzled: 'Mein Kampf' a puzzling hit in Turkey.
ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Turkish bookshops have a best seller, but some are hesitant about giving it too much display.
It's Mein Kampf.
The popularity of Adolf Hitler's book, filled with anti-Jewish diatribes and dreams of world domination, is puzzling some Turks. Does it reflect rising anti-Semitic or anti-Western sentiment in Muslim Turkey? Or anger over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and the war in Iraq? Is it a backlash against the country's moves to join the European Union? Or does it simply offer a cheap thrill?
At least two new Turkish-language versions are out in paperback and selling for as little as $4.50, but they could run into legal trouble. They were printed without the permission of the Finance Ministry of the German state of Bavaria, which was given control of Hitler's estate after World War II and is keen to suppress the book.
German diplomats in Turkey have been told to explore court action. ''The book Mein Kampf should not be reprinted,'' Bavarian Finance Minister Kurt Faltlhauser said. ''The state of Bavaria administers the copyright very restrictively to prevent an increase of Nazi ideas.''
Last month the ministry said it was seeking legal action to stop the book's publication in Poland.
Mein Kampf -- meaning ''My Struggle'' -- was written in the 1920s and has long been widely available in Arab countries, but no increase in sales has been noted there lately. So Turkish analysts are hard put to explain why tens of thousands of copies have been sold here in recent months.
Lina Filiba, executive vice president of Turkey's 25,000-member Jewish community, called it ''disturbing.''
She said price and media attention were major factors, but also pointed to a trend of anti-Semitic publications such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion being sold even in department stores.