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Japan: Hitler's “Mein Kampf”, the manga version

After more than 80 years since its first publication, Hitler's Mein Kampf has become a Manga comic.
The 190 page volume, which sold some 45,000 copies in the first printing, tells in a very simple way the story of Adolf Hitler, from his childhood to his rise as the leader of the National Socialist Party.

Cover of the manga 我が闘争 (Mein Kampf)

Cover of the manga 我が闘争 (Mein Kampf)

It is part of a series by the publishing company East Press which in the past has released the manga versions of several heavyweight literary works such as Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Marx's The Capital.
Since further publication of Mein Kampf is already banned in several countries including Germany and Austria, the manga Waga Toso (我が闘争), as it is translated in Japanese, has given place to very different reactions abroad and in Japan, as blogger zoffy well sums up.

注目されている背景には、
・本書の著者がナチスドイツの独裁者アドルフ・ヒトラーであること。
・そして、ドイツでは今なお本著作の出版が禁止されていること。
・さらに、内容がネオ・ナチの思想を助長するのではないかといった懸念が世間にあること。
などの事情がある。
これに対し出版社側は、
「有名な本だが、読んだ人は少ない。どんな思想があれほどの悲劇を生んだのか、『悪魔』で片付けられるヒトラーの人間の部分を知る材料になると思った」
と企画の理由を話している。

Among the elements that caught [foreign media's] attention are:
– the fact that the author of this book was the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
– The fact that its publishing is still banned in Germany.
– The widespread fear that its content might encourage neo-Nazi sentiment
On the other hand, the publishing company argues as reason for such a choice the fact that “It's a famous book but very few people have read it. We think this Manga will provide clues to Hitler both as a human being and also to his way of thinking which led to such tragedy, though he is now dismissed as a ‘monster’
Two scenes from the manga 我が闘争 (Mein Kampf)

Two scenes from the manga 我が闘争 (Mein Kampf)

Commenting on this particular manga, many bloggers chose to copy-paste an article published in the daily Asahi Shimbun on September 20th 6th and titled The manga version of ‘Mein Kampf’ is a hit. Reactions range from critical to calling it “a historical resource” (売れる「わが闘争」漫画版 苦言も「歴史資料」の声も) [ja].
The same article, translated in English  by the same paper a few days later, states the cause of the ban by saying that “The Finance Ministry of the state of Bavaria, which holds the copyright to the book, has refused to grant permission to reprint it out of sensitivity to victims of Nazi atrocities.”

However, journalist Yoshio Kisa (木佐芳男), former correspondent in Germany for the daily Yomiuri Shimbun and author of essays such as The Question of War Responsibility – Germany's unaccounted for past (戦争責任”とは何か―清算されなかったドイツの過去), says he does not agree with Asahi's explanation.

だが、発禁となっている本当の理由は、そんなきれいごとではない。出版すれば、ドイツをはじめヨーロッパ各国にいるネオナチ組織の聖典となって、政治的な大問題となりかねないからだ。バイエルン州の州都ミュンヘンのキオスクに立ち寄れば、いくつかの極右新聞が売られていることに気づく。ドイツには、それぞれ数千人の動員力を持つ極右・ネオナチ組織が複数ある。当局は、彼らを刺激しないように細心の注意を払っている。

The real reason why they ban its publication is not so considerate. The big issue is that it might become the political ‘Bible’ of those neo-Nazi associations that exist in every European country, starting with Germany.
If you could look at a newspaper kiosk in Munich in the state of Bavaria, you would see that extreme rightist newspapers are there being sold. In Germany there are several neo Nazi groups which mobilize some thousands of right extremists. The authorities are very careful about not provoking them[…]

Kisa, who considers the presence and actual danger of the rightist groups in Japan to be irrelevant if compared to those in Germany and in other European countries, also reflects on the publication of such a book in Japan.

日本で今、漫画版の『わが闘争』がどんな意味を持つか、どれだけの影響力があるかはよくわからない。しかし、40年近く前の訳者の意図と漫画版刊行の意図とはそうちがわないだろう。
平野氏はこんな言葉も書いている。  「戦争経験なき世代こそ、この書を読むべきではないだろうか。この書をくもりなき目で読み、客観的に判断することが、この世代にとって必要であり、戦後の教育を受けたものなら、十分な判断力をもって読むことができるのではないか」

I'm not sure what meaning and influence the manga version of Mein Kampf could have now in Japan. However, the intention of those who translated it 40 years ago and those who published the manga now, cannot be that different.
[Translator] Hirano used these words:
“The generation that didn't experience the war are actually the people that should read this book. This generation needs the clear mind and objective view required to read such text. Anybody who has received post-war education should be able to read this book with a good sense of judgement, or so I hope.”

The manga depicts Hitler as a man obsessed who accuses the Jewish people of being the origin of all Germany's evils. Its anti-Semitic thought is paramount and it seems unlikely that such a flawed figure could lead any reader to feel fascinated by his personality.

As some bloggers pointed out, the manga version of Mein Kampf is an abridgement of the dictator's ideology and may be seen instead, as a different way to be introduced to the study of history. It needs to be supplemented with other sources theternal suggests, praising the interesting East Press publishing project of making manga out of the world works of literature.

何かの話題が関心を呼び、より深い議論や理解に進むことはよいことだと思う。漫画では描き切れていないヒトラー本人の『わが闘争 』原作も読んだ方がよいし、他の関連本を読むのもよいだろう。読書はそのように進んでいくものだ。関連おススメ漫画としては、『マンガで鍛える読書力』でも紹介した水木しげるの『劇画ヒットラー (ちくま文庫) 』もよいし、手塚治虫の『アドルフに告ぐ 』はかなりのおススメだ。

I think it's good to raise interest in some topics for this can develop into a deeper debate or understanding. It's good to read the original Mein Kampf written by Hitler to cover those parts absent in the manga and it also good to read other books that are related to it. That is the way reading develops. As related comics, I would suggest Shjigeru Mizuki's Gekika Hitoraa (Hitler's comic strip) which is also suggested in Manga de Kitaeru Dokushoryoku (Training reading through manga) and, for sure, Tezuka Osamu's Adorufu ni tsugu (Tell Adolf).

8 comments

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  • Linda

    I think the book is in good intention for people to learn from the tragedy, but sometime it turn out to be the oppotion or beome a heroism complex

  • Shar1

    In a time when all over the world the crazy rise of the Nazi’s is occuring I find this in bad taste. He ruthlessly tried to remove a sect of people. I find this just wrong.

  • […] Japan: Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, the manga version […]

  • […] Japan: Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, the manga version 190 page volume, which sold some 45,000 copies in the first printing, tells in a very simple way the story of Adolf Hitler, (tags: history hitler comics japan) […]

  • […] Please read more about this comic here. […]

  • Ace

    Thanks for being the only person to write about this new manga whose actually bothered to get a diverse Japanese opinion.

    And everyone else needs to realize that this manga is sympathetic to the plight of innocents while it chronicles one man’s descent to hell. It is not pro-Nazi at all. Actually read it before criticizing.

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