“Do you have a copy of the Bible?”: critical editions in the UL

By Institut für Zeitgeschichte [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Institut für Zeitgeschichte [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Often, students come to the library looking for a copy of a text – a religious or classical text, for instance – without regard to the edition. Equally, however, it is common for those using the library to search for a specific edition of a text (editions in the Loeb Classical Library, for instance, are in the Reading Room – R707.5 for Greek and R712.5 for Latin – and also available online as ebooks).  A critical edition of a text with notes and/or commentary is valued by the research community for the analysis it provides. One newly published critical edition, much talked about in the press, which the UL acquired earlier this year is Hitler’s Mein Kampf, published by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich. It contains historical notes and textual analysis, and is structured much like more traditional biblical exegesis.

This edition joins well over a dozen copies of Mein Kampf in Cambridge libraries: the UL has the two volume first edition published in 1925-1927 (CCC.26:2.10-11) and several editions and English translations from the 1930s and 1940s. Other translations include a 1933 French translation in Trinity College Library, one in Arabic and an English translation by Ralph Manheim, subject of an earlier blog post.

Mein Kampf was a bestseller during the 1930s, selling more than 10 million copies and translated into 18 languages. After 1945 the copyright for it passed to the Bavarian state government and no editions were allowed to be published in Germany.  It was known that the copyright would expire at the end of 2015, and in anticipation of this, historians at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte worked on the new critical edition for six years so that it would be ready for publication. The Institut für Zeitgeschichte was well-placed to do this work, having already produced scholarly editions of Hitlers’ early speeches and writings (Hitler : Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen : Februar 1925 bis Januar 1933) and the diaries of Goebbels, both of which the UL has copies of. An initial printing of 4000 copies sold out very quickly in January, and in response to demand more copies have been produced. The original text is framed by over 80 pages of introduction and 200 pages of end matter including a comprehensive bibliography and index.  The text is accompanied by more than 3500 annotations which makes it a valuable source document for contemporary history.

Pages of the critical edition showing text on the right-hand page with dated revisions and annotations on the left-hand page

Pages of the critical edition showing text on the right-hand page with dated revisions and annotations on the left-hand page. Click to see enlarged version

Katharine Dicks and Josh Hutchinson






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