REPORTING FROM BERLIN -- Germany's most infamous book won't be hitting newsstands this week after all.
A British publisher who had planned to print excerpts of Adolf Hitler's political screed "Mein Kampf" in Germany backed down Wednesday in the face of a threat of legal action from the Bavarian government.
Peter McGee planned to publish three 16-page installments of "Mein Kampf" beginning Thursday in Zeitungszeugen, his weekly magazine that prints annotated reproductions of Nazi-era newspapers. He announced Wednesday on the magazine's website that he would just run commentary on the book instead.
Contrary to popular belief, "Mein Kampf" is not banned in Germany. But its copyright is held by the state of Bavaria, which has not permitted it to be reprinted.
Last week, Jewish groups protested the planned publication, and the Bavarian finance ministry signaled that the excerpts would be too long to claim exemption from copyright protection. McGee had said he would go ahead with his plans, to help shatter the book's mystique and show Germans that the book was in fact a shoddy piece of writing. On Wednesday, however, he changed his mind.
The issue of permission to reprint "Mein Kampf" in Germany will be moot in three years' time, however. Bavaria's copyright on the book expires in 2015, 70 years after Hitler's death.
-- Aaron Wiener
Photos: A woman holds a brochure of the weekly newspaper Zeitungszeugen containing original texts of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' and commentaries that had been planned for publication Thursday. British publisher Peter McGee announced he would just run commentaries on the book. Credit: Stephan Jansen / European Pressphoto Agency