With a total of 12.4 million copies printed, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” remains the bestselling German-language book by a single author to this day. Tabooing and banning this propaganda book after the Second World War have not achieved the desired effect—which was to safely store the “spirit in the bottle” and keep it from the general public. The opposite has occurred: neo-nationalist exclusionary tactics, racism, and misanthropic rhetoric are wriggling closer and closer to the mainstream.
With “The Thousand-Year Library”, realized in the “Year of Remembrance 2018,” artist Hannes Priesch invited us to explore the foundation of these observable developments. He duplicated excerpts from “Mein Kampf” using a silkscreen-printing technique and produced book objects that enabled visitors to read this vile text.
This publication, which reproduces the entire series of silkscreen prints, shines new light on the taboo subject of “Mein Kampf”, framing it as material for further investigation and reflection. Accompanied by texts that approach the subject of language featuring totalitarian tendencies from different sides, this semiotic shift in references helps us to study the language Hitler employed and to recognize political strategies of the past in current events.