Mein Kampf

...Burn or Publish?


Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings
Heinrich Heine*

Among the thousands of books burned on Berlin’s Opernplatz in 1933, following the Nazi raid on the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, were works by Heinrich Heine. To commemorate the terrible event, one of the most famous lines of Heine’s 1821 play Almansor was engraved in the ground at the site: “Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.” (“That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well.”). He was used to commentary on censorship. In his 1827 work Ideen: Das Buch Le Grand this is what was typeset.

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If you’d like to read more about what happened then visit Yad Vashem which manages extensive resources and evidence of the Holocaust. The Holocaust (from the Greek ὁλόκαυστος holókaustoshólos, “whole” and kaustós, “burnt”). 

In 2016 Mein Kampf falls out of copyright. Copyright in (mainly) German versions is held by the province of Bavaria. There has been an ongoing debate about this work since it was first published. Here are some disturbing facts:

  • Adolf Hitler earned millions of Deutschmarks from publication in XX. His tax due was written off when he became Chancellor in XX
  • The book was given free to
  • Over XX copies have been published
  • When Hitler died etc
  • It is illegal to own or sell the book in some countries XXX
  • Hitler himself said this about it “XXX”

In XX students across Germany in various cities such as Berlin and XX made a place to burn books. People took oaths alongside the burnings. The books burned were books by banned authors. The list is long but included: XXXX

John Latham worked extensively using books (burning, chewing, and embedding) as sources for work and this is part inspiration for what I am preparing. Some say it is futile to explore anything which challenges or evidences events of such atrocity. Although a challenge I still think it is worth trying.

The work will based on an original published copy of Mein Kampf (being sourced). I intend to do the following:

  • Burn the book
  • Record the book being burnt
  • Use the ashes to create a new ink
  • Create work as an antithesis to the original book using the materials created from the destruction and recording

Any comments on this project please Contact me.


Status: Work in progress
Year: 2015+
Website: Not published yet