Hitler’s Mein Kampf and a BBC report

My friend forward this BBC article the other day and wrote-

“This is really damaging. Somebody please write a blog post about the BBC’s constant hammering at bad stories about BD.”

I was not too sure about that. I mean, Hitler and Bangladesh… really? Who will buy that? But my friend continued-

“In the current environment, nothing can be more damaging to Bangladesh than a stray article that links Bangladesh+Hitler which will read in those so-called defense analysts’s mind to anti-Semitism+terrorist. None of those analysts who track “countries” will think in the way that we are doing, nor will they have access to any nuanced analysis. They will read this article and that’s all they will read.”

Hmm, he has a point. So I read the article one more time. Frankly speaking, the title of the article is very misleading and doesn’t even reflect the theme of the very article. The title was a cheap effort to catch readers’ eye. It’s true that everywhere around the world there are few people who respect warlords and dictators. You can find pro-Hitler books anywhere (probably in Asia too). But the sale of street-books in Dhaka city is a different case altogether.

The BBC reporter made a very interesting observation though-

“Last week, Mein Kampf did unusually well because many bought the book to give it away as an Eid present”.

Book as Eid gift? My friend laughed at this line. Why shouldn’t he? People share meats and sweets during Eid-ul-Azha in Dhaka, not book!

Anyway, how would he know that there is a market in Dhaka for “world renowned books” which is not governed by the political preference of the people? Some people buy them to know “what the fuss” is all about, while many just want to keep them in their showcase.

Michal Zitko, the Czech publisher of Hitler’s Mein Kempf once argued for the marketing of this book to BBC this way-

“idea is to present historical source material, and that he is also planning a version of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital to show two sides of totalitarian thinking”. In Germany, the book is available in the libraries for research purpose while most European countries trade this book legally.

It seems that British media periodically follows the popularity of Mein Kampf around the world. Very recently the Daily Telegraph published a report on how Mein Kampf’s became popular among the business students in India where, according to the Telegraph, it is considered as a “management guide”.

It also printed a report this year on the popularity of the “comic version” of Hitler’s book in Japan.

BBC mostly remains objective in its reporting of this book. It did cover the story when Mein Kampf allegedly became popular in Turkey. However, most of the BBC reports focus on the academic and moral dilemma surrounding the book and is enriched with facts in figures (unlike the report on Dhaka).

For instance, a quick googling resulted in the following information–

In 2009 German based BOL.com came under criticism for selling Mein Kampf online and BBC then reported that the German owner of the online bookstore Bertelsman took it off the shelves amid criticism.

After a decade however the book found its way back to the online shop again and the English translations are on sale here. The website now claims that it is “for the first time in 65 years, a modern, easy to understand, truly complete, accurate, and uncensored edition of “Mein Kampf” … which reveals more than any past translation” has been published.

BBC also repeatedly reports the fact that the book is on sale in amazon (in Amazon UK it is “eligible for FREE super saver delivery”). Though the book is banned in Germany and Austria, most European countries including UK allow the sale of this text verbatim.

While the publication of the book is legal in West, some Muslim countries on the other hand seem to have strong embargo in practice. As BBC reported in 2004, the Azerbaijan government detained the Mr Zeynalli for translating and publishing the book into Azeri language.

After the googling, it seems that Muslim countries in particular are not associated with the Hitler texts. The Hitler-text is popular in many Christian, Hindu and Buddhist majority nations, at least according to the western media reports.

I guess the BBC report on Mein Kempf’s popularity in Dhaka was just a casual report by a lazy reporter who didn’t know how and from where to quote facts and figures and relied on a street salesman’s comment for the entire thesis (or maybe he just wanted some attention which he got, at least from me… damn! 😀 ).

cross-posted at UV

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One Response to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and a BBC report

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