An Italian newspaper is facing criticism after distributing copies of an annotated version of Hitler's autobiography in its Saturday edition.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi criticized ll Giornale's editorial decision to distribute "Mein Kampf," the Nazi leader's political manifesto, as "squalid," and expressed his solidarity with Italy's tiny Jewish community of 30,000.
The center-right daily — owned by the brother of former premier Silvio Berlusconi — is defending its decision to start selling an eight-volume history of the Third Reich, with the annotated copy of Mein Kampf free for readers who buy the first volume.
In an editorial, the paper's editor-in-chief Alessandro Sallusti acknowledged said that it was unreasonable to view the decision as a sign of support for Nazism and the movements anti-Jewish policies.
Instead, Sallusti said he hoped readers could "study what is evil to avoid its return" through the German dictator's writing.
"The concerns of our friends of the Italian Jewish community, who always have and always will see us by their side… deserve all our respect," Sallusti wrote.
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Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israeli office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Italian daily Corriere della Sera that it was unprecedented for a newspaper to use "Mein Kampf" to boost sales. Italian news agency ANSA spoke with other sources from the Israeli Embassy who also expressed their surprise.
Italians and others on Twitter voiced their criticism on social media.
Italy's Il Giornale is giving away free copies of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'.don't even know how they're allowed to do it — Max Paradiso (@ma_paradiso)June 11, 2016
A 70-year copyright on Hitler's book held by the state of Bavaria expired at the end of 2015, prompting Munich's Institute for Contemporary History to re-issue it as an annotated version earlier this year in an effort "to thoroughly deconstruct Hitler's propaganda."
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.