Amsterdam gallery owner faces trial for selling ‘Mein Kampf’

Adolf Hitler's autobiographical manifesto was banned in the Netherlands in 1974

Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto  ‘Mein Kampf’ was for sale at an Amsterdam antiques shop. Photograph: Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto ‘Mein Kampf’ was for sale at an Amsterdam antiques shop. Photograph: Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 01:00

Almost 90 years after it was first published, an Amsterdam antiques shop owner faces up to six months in jail for selling Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, Mein Kampf (German for My Struggle) – which has been banned in the Netherlands since 1974.

A complaint against the Totalitarian Art Gallery was lodged by the Dutch Jewish Federation last October, and the public prosecutor’s office has taken the unusual step of confirming that its owner, Michiel van Eyck, has been subpoenaed to attend a pre-trial hearing on August 26th.

“The defendant said he knew there were statements in the book which insult Jews and incite hatred, discrimination and violence against them,” the prosecutor’s statement said. “Despite this, he had the book in stock with the aim of selling it.”

Under Dutch law, it is actually selling the book, trading in it for profit, which is specifically banned. Possession, either by individuals or by libraries, is not illegal, and neither is using it for “scientific or journalistic reasons”.

Copyright infringement

Unusually, the Dutch government owns the copyright to the Dutch-language translation of Mein Kampf, and refuses to allow it to be published. Unauthorised publication is usually dealt with by way of copyright infringement, although that copyright runs out next year.

In this case, the Totalitarian Art Gallery is believed to have had three copies for sale, two in the original German and a third in Dutch.

Mr Van Eyck said he wasn’t surprised the prosecution was going ahead, although he had explained his shop specialised in artefacts from “oppressive regimes”, including Hitler’s Germany, Stalinist Russia and Chairman Mao’s China.

“It has nothing to do with being pro-Nazi or anything like that,” said Mr Van Eyck. “I also sell Anne Frank’s Diary and The Bible, and I should be able to sell this the same way. It’s no use trying to hide the past.”