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Italian newspaper under fire for giving away copies of Mein Kampf

An Italian newspaper owned by Silvio Berlusconi has been criticised for distributing free copies of an annotated version of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf with a paid supplement in its Saturday edition.

Il Giornale started selling an eight-volume history of the Third Reich, with the annotated copy of Mein Kampf free for readers who bought the first volume.

The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said on Twitter that Il Giornale's decision to give away the copies of the Nazi leader's political treatise was squalid, as he expressed solidarity with Italy's Jewish community.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israeli office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Corriere della Sera it was unprecedented for a newspaper to use Mein Kampf to boost sales. Israeli embassy sources quoted by the Ansa news agency also expressed surprise.

But Il Giornale, a centre-right daily owned by the family of Berlusconi, claimed the decision to distribute the edition of the text, which includes critical notes by an Italian historian, aimed "to study what is evil to avoid its return".

Editor-in-chief Alessandro Sallusti said no one could interpret the move to be an apology for nazism and the global Jewish conspiracy posited in the book written between 1924 and 1926. "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," he wrote in an editorial.

A 70-year copyright on Hitler's book held by the state of Bavaria expired at the end of last year, prompting Munich's Institute for Contemporary History to reissue it as an annotated version earlier this year in an effort "to thoroughly deconstruct Hitler's propaganda".

[Source: The Guardian, Reuters, London, 11Jun16]

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