Historicizing evil: the story behind a new translation of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’

By Santiago Artozqui (En attendant Nadeau)

Adolf Hitler’s notorious, two-volume manifesto Mein Kampf was published in France last month in a scholarly version, heavily annotated by a team of historians, destined as a work of academic reference that analyses and explains the contexts, notably historical and cultural, of the hate-filled text. Olivier Mannoni is the German-to-French translator of this revised version of Hitler’s rantings, and here he tells Santiago Artozqui of the challenges of working for nine years on thesticky, vile, deceitful, paranoiac and violent text”, and how the rigour of the historians gave a “solidity” and “reassuring stability” to his work.

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It weighs around 3.5 kilos, totals 864 pages, almost two thirds of which are dedicated to critical analysis, is destined to serve as a work of academic reference and can only be bought by order; Historiciser le mal - Une édition critique de Mein Kampf  (“Historicizing Evil, a critical edition of Mein Kampf”) was published in France last month by Paris-based publishing house Fayard.