Eighty years after Adolf Hitler published his autobiographical manifesto, ‘Mein Kampf,’ the book that launched European Nazism, is climbing the best-seller charts in Muslim Turkey.
Since publication in January, the book has risen to number four on the best-seller list of the D&R bookstore chain, selling over 50,000 copies.
While most Turkish publishers of ‘Mein Kampf’ say they are merely pursuing the profit motive, others admit that anti-Semitic and anti-American feelings are fueling demand.
Sami Kilic, owner of the Emre publishing house, has sold 26,000 copies of the book from a printing of 31,000 in January. “Mostly young people” are reading it, he says.
Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, rising anti-Americanism over the war in Iraq and hostility towards Israel over perceived treatment of Palestinians have made readers curious about Hitler’s work, Kilic notes. “The times we live in have a definite impact on sales. It is an astonishing phenomenon,” he told Germany’s Deutsche Welle.
“This book, which does not contain a single ounce of humanity, unfortunately appears to be taken seriously in this country,” political scientist Dogu Ergil recently told a newspaper interviewer. “Nazism, buried in the dustbin of history in Europe, is beginning to re-emerge in Turkey,” he warned.
“There has been no objective reason for anti-Semitic feelings to crop up in Turkey,” Ergil adds, “However, some feel there is an international conspiracy led by what they call the crusaders – meaning the U.S. and maybe the West in general and the Zionists.”
Ergil notes that Hitler’s image in Turkey has always been one of “a criminal” or “a maniac.”
“Mein Kampf” has been published numerous times over the years in Turkey, but the recent edition’s cut-rate price – $4.50 versus the usual $15.00 a copy – has contributed to its current success.
The head of Turkey’s 22,000-strong Jewish community has complained to the publishers to no avail and expresses astonishment that “a 500-page book that sows the seeds of racism and anti-Semitism can sell at such a low price.”
Istanbul, where most of the nation’s Jews live, was the site of two car bombings of synagogues in November 2003. The blasts, blamed on an al-Qaida-linked group, killed 25.