Still trying to catch up. December 30, 2015. Posted January 25, 2016.
Image from The Book Hitler Didn’t Want You to Read, written by Rafael Medoff and drawn by Dean Motter; produced by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. Via the New York Times.
Depends on how well it’s done, but I’m not sure I want to read a comic book version of this story. I want the story in depth as only a real book can tell it. Still, this is fascinating and I’d never heard about it before now:
The 70-year copyright on Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” expired on Thursday in Germany. And a comic book released last month sheds light on a legal battle over the book that occurred in America in 1939. The comic, “The Book That Hitler Didn’t Want You to Read,” tells the story of how Alan Cranston — then a journalist, and years later a California senator — produced his own version of Hitler’s book, only to be sued by Hitler.
“I was aware of the efforts of young Alan Cranston to warn the free world of the dangers that Hitler represented,” said Rafael Medoff, the director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington, which produced the comic. “It seemed to me that Cranston’s story could be an effective vehicle to convey the new controversy over ‘Mein Kampf’ that would be starting after Dec. 31.
“The Book That Hitler Didn’t Want You to Read,” written by Mr. Medoff and drawn by Dean Motter, begins in 1937, when Mr. Cranston, a foreign correspondent in Europe for the International News Service, becomes disillusioned with America’s isolationism and denial about Hitler’s growing power. He returns two years later to New York, where he discovers that the American version of “Mein Kampf,” published by Houghton Mifflin, has been severely edited down to make it more palatable to the public. “Everything that shows Hitler’s most violent, racist side has been cut out,” he thinks in one panel. In the next, he has a moment of clarity: “Something needs to be done. He’s got to be exposed!”
Mr. Cranston decides to produce his own version. He trims the repetitious parts but retains the racist and violent passages, making a 32-page version of “Mein Kampf” in the format of a tabloid newspaper. Priced at 10 cents, it sells half a million copies until Hitler successfully sues him for violating his copyright.
You can read George Gene Gustine’s whole article, Comic Book Recalls Effort to Expose ‘Mein Kampf’, at the New York Times.
The Book Hitler Didn’t Want You to Read is available to order from the Wyman Institute.