Mein Kampf: Not banned, but prohibited.

While we’re on the subject of banned books:

THIS BOOK IS ILLEGAL! Well, not exactly. But it does carry prohibitions in many European countries.mein kampf

This is a presentation copy of Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) by Adolf Hitler. This particular volume is part of the 1939 edition, published in Munich, which had a total run of 14,000 leather-bound copies (a little over 10,000 were sold). It was produced to commemorate Der Fuhrer’s 50th birthday. It was probably a “bring back” souvenir following World War II, and current retail value in this condition is between $250 and $300.

The copy pictured here happened to walk in the door of The York Emporium earlier this week, buried and dusty, amid several boxes of otherwise forgettable tomes from the 1940s & 1950s.

This a copy of the special edition, known as the Jubiläumsausgabe, or “Anniversary Issue”. It came in both dark blue and bright red boards with a gold sword on the cover. It was considered a deluxe version, relative to the smaller and more common Volksausgabe. What increases its value in the U.S. is that it is printed in the German Old Style type (“fractur”) and it is a relic, if you will, of the War.

Mein Kampf, of course, is a book written by Hitler while in prison. He dictated (no pun intended) the work to his secretary Rudolf Hess. It is his autobiography, his political philosophy, and his plans for the future of Germany.

Wildly anti-Semitic, and not a very good read, it was first published in 1925 with an intended audience of his newly-formed National Socialist (Nazi) political party. It was wildly ignored at the time.

The book grew in popularity during the next several years, and by the time he came to power, in 1933, sales had increased to some 240,000 copies (a pretty big number in depression-era Germany). It is reported that his tax debt from royalties exceeded $1.5-million in today’s dollars (this debt was somehow forgiven when he became Chancellor).

By the start of the War, of course, Hitler was a bona fide BIG DEAL, and the book went into huge circulation. Copies were given to couples on their wedding day and given to troops on active duty. It was a popular gift for birthdays and anniversaries.

Following the surrender, not so much.

In fact, it was illegal to own a copy in much of Europe. Even today, should you try to buy it through, you will be met with a prohibition: “This is a US/Canada only edition and shall/must only be sold in US/Canada. This edition should not be sold outside of US/Canada/New Zealand/South Africa/Japan.”

The prohibition is largely symbolic. Editions abound in a number of languages as digital files for e-readers, and in PDF format. Once it is online, it cannot really be taken back.

At the time of his suicide, Hitler’s official place of residence was in Munich, which led to his entire estate, including all rights to Mein Kampf, changing to the ownership of the state of Bavaria. As per German copyright law, the entire text is scheduled to enter the public domain on January 1, 2016; 70 years after the author’s death. The government of Bavaria refuses to allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany, and opposes it also in other countries…but with less success.

Actually, owning and buying the book is legal. Trading in old copies is legal as well, unless it is done in such a fashion as to “promote hatred or war”, which is generally illegal. Most German libraries carry heavily commented and excerpted versions of Mein Kampf. In 2008, Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, not only recommended lifting the ban, but volunteered the help of his organization in editing and annotating the text, saying that it is time for the book to be made available to all online.

Part of the irony of all this is that Hitler himself tried to distance himself from the book shortly after he came to power, calling it “fantasies behind bars.” He said that, “If I had had any idea in 1924 that I would have become Reich chancellor, I never would have written the book.”

So, technically, the book isn’t banned. But it is prohibited. It can be printed in German, but it cannot be printed in Germany (until next year) without violating copyright laws. You can also download a free copy from numerous sites online.

Banned Books Week

This is Banned Books Week 2015. Since 1982, this annual, international, event has taken place during the last week of September.

The entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, bannedteachers, and readers of all types –- comes together in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Banned Books Week not only encourages readers to examine challenged literary works, but also promotes intellectual freedom in libraries, schools, and bookstore. Its goal is “to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.”

The tradition of banning books is a long one and seems to date to the reign of Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang, sometime around 230 BC. It seems that the Emperor didn’t like some of the things that philosopher Confucius had to say some two hundred years before him, so he banned his writings along with the then-contemporary commentaries by devotees. The whole story is a little murky (we have had, after all, more than 2,300 years to murk it up), but seems that it was effective at the time.

The tradition continued through European history with book burnings in in Florence in 1497-98 at the behest of the highly opinionated priest Savonarola (those were known forevermore as the original “bonfire of the vanities”) and, in 1559, with the creation of the Catholic Church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum. New and updated editions of the Index were published at regular intervals until 1948. It wasn’t until nearly 20 years after that it was finally done away with. That’s over four centuries of official religious regulation of Catholics’ reading materials. At various times, influential works by authors such as Immanuel Kant, Simone de Beauvoir, and John Milton were placed on the list.

The Nazis held highly publicized book burnings throughout pre-war Gebooks are weaponsrmany, and those produced a backlash here in the US, with our government responding with “morale” posters and book drives for soldiers.

On our side of the pond, the banning of books started with The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption by William Pynchon in 1650. The work was a rather critical review of Puritanism. Pynchon was kicked out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and his book was publicly burned in downtown Boston.

Here is a list (in alphabetical order by title) of the most banned and challenged books of the past 100 years in the US:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn         Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer                   Mark Twin
Alice (series)                                                     Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
All The King’s Men                                          Robert Penn Warren
Always Running                                              Luis J. Rodriguez
American Psycho                                            Bret Easton Ellis
An American Tragedy                                    Theodore Dreiser
The Anarchist Cookbook                               William Powell
Anastasia Again!                                             Lois Lowry
And Tango Makes Three                                J. Richardson & P. Parnell
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison
Annie on My Mind                                         Nancy Garden
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret       Judy Blume
Arming America                                            Michael Bellasiles
Arizona Kid                                                     Ron Koertge
As I Lay Dying                                                William Faulkner
Asking About Sex and Growing Up            Joanna Cox
Athletic Shorts                                               Chris Crucher
Beloved                                                           Toni Morrison
Black Boy                                                        Richard Wright
Bless Me, Ultima                                           Rudolfo A, Anaya
Blood and Chocolate                                    Annette Curtis Klause
Blubber                                                           Judy Blume
The Bluest Eye                                               Toni Morrison
The Boy Who Lost His Face                        Louis Sachar
Boys and Sex                                                  Wardell Pomerey
Brave New World                                         Aldus Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia                                     Katherine Paterson
Bumps in the Night                                      Harry Allard
The Call of the Wild                                      Jack London
Captain Underpants                                     Dov Pilkey
The Catcher in the Rye                                J.D. Salinger
Catch-22                                                         Joseph Heller
Cat’s Cradle                                                   Kurt Vonnegut
The Chocolate War                                      Robert Cormier
Christine                                                        Stephen King
A Clockwork Orange                                  Anthony Burgess
The Color Purple                                         Alice Walker
Crank                                                            Ellen Hopkins
Crazy Lady                                                    Jane Conly
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat       Alan Schwartz
Cujo                                                                Stephen King
Curses, Hexes and Spells                           Daniel Cohen
Daddy’s Roommate                                     Michael Willoite
A Day No Pigs Would Die                           Robert Newton Peck
The Dead Zone                                             Stephen King
Deenie                                                            Judy Blume
The Drowning of Stephen Jones               Bette Greene
Earth’s Children (series)                             Jean M. Auel
The Exorcist                                                  William Peter Blatty
The Face on the Milk Carton                      Caroline B. Cooney
Fade                                                                Robert Cormier
Fallen Angels                                                Walter Dean Myers
Family Secrets                                              Norma Klein
A Farewell to Arms                                      Ernest Hemingway
Final Exit                                                       Derek Humphry
Flowers for Algernon                                  Daniel Keyes
For Whom The Bell Tolls                           Ernest Hemingway
Forever                                                          Judy Blume
Girls and Sex                                               Wardell Pomeroy
The Giver                                                      Lois Lowry
Go Ask Alice                                                 Anonymous
Go Tell It On The Mountain                       James Baldwin
The Goats                                                      Brook Cole
Gone With The Wind                                  Margaret Mitchell
Goosebumps (series)                                  R.L. Stine
The Grapes of Wrath                                  John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby                                         F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gilly Hopkins                            Katherine Paterson
Guess What?                                                Mem Fox
Halloween ABC                                           Eve Merriam
The Handmaid’s Tale                                 Margaret Atwood
Harry Potter (series)                                   J.K. Rowling
Heart of Darkness                                       Joseph Conrad
Heather Has Two Mommies                     Leslea Newman
The House of Spirits                                   Isabel Allende
How To Eat Fried Worms                          Thomas Rockwell
The Hunger Games                                     Suzanne Collins
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings          Maya Angelou
In Cold Blood                                                Truman Capote
In the Night Kitchen                                   Maurice Sendak
Invisible Man                                               Ralph Ellison
It’s Perfectly Normal                                   Robie Harris
It’s So Amazing                                             Robie Harris
Jack                                                                A.M. Homes
James and the Giant Peach                        Roald Dahl
Jay’s Journal                                                 Anonymous
Julie of the Wolves                                       Jean Craighead George
Jump Ship to Freedom                                L. Collier and C. Collier
Jumper                                                           Stephen Gould
The Jungle                                                     Upton Sinclair
Kaffir Boy                                                      Mark Mathabane
Killing Mr. Griffin                                        Lois Duncan
Lady Chatterley’s Lover                             D.H. Lawrence
A Light in the Attic                                      Shel Silverstein
Little Black Sambo                                      Helen Bannerman
Lolita                                                             Vladimir Nabokov
Lord of the Flies                                          William Golding
Mommy Laid An Egg                                  Babette Cole
My Brother Sam Is Dead                            J.L. Collier and C. Collier
The Naked and the Dead                           Norman Mailer
The Naked Lunch                                        William S. Burroughs
Native Son                                                     Richard Wright
The New Joy of Gay Sex                              C. Silverstein & F. Picano
Nineteen Eighty-four                                  George Orwell
Of Mice and Men                                         John Steinbeck
On My Honor                                               Marion Dane Bauer
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest           Ken Kesey
Ordinary People                                          Judith Guest
The Outsiders                                              S.E. Hinton
The Perks of Being a Wallflower            Stephen Chbosky
The Pillars of the Earth                            Ken Follett
The Pigman                                                Paul Zindel
Private Parts                                               Howard Stern
Rabbit, Run                                                 John Updike
The Rabbit’s Wedding                              Garth Williams
Rainbow Boys                                            Alex Sanchez
Running Loose                                          Chris Crutcher
The Satanic Verses                                    Salman Rushdie
Scary Stories (series)                                Alvin Schwartz
A Separate Peace                                       John Knowles
Sex                                                               Madonna
Sex Education                                           Jenny Davis
Slaughterhouse-Five                                Kurt Vonnegut
The Sledding Hill                                       Chris Crutcher
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy                          Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Song of Solomon                                       Toni Morrison
Sons and Lovers                                       D.H. Lawrence
The Stupids (series)                                 Harry Allard
Summer of My German Soldier             Bette Greene
The Sun Also Rises                                  Ernest Hemingway
That Was Then, This Is Now                  S.E. Hinton
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora   Neale Hurston
Tiger Eyes                                                  Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird                             Harper Lee
Tropic of Cancer                                       Henry Miller
View from the Cherry Tree                    Willo Davis Roberts
We All Fall Down                                      Robert Cormier
Whale Talk                                               Chris Crutcher
What My Mother Doesn’t Know            Sonya Sones
What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Boys Lynda Madara
What’s Happening To My Body? Book for Girls Lynda Madara
Where Did I Come From?                      Peter Mayle
The Wish Giver                                        Bill Brittain
The Witches                                             Roald Dahl
Women in Love                                       D.H. Lawrence
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Sexual         Fantasies                      Nancy Friday
A Wrinkle In Time                                    Madeleine L’Engle

There’s actually some pretty good reading on this list. Not all will fall into this category; some were written for the shock value, but many were not.

I take pride in saying that many, if not all, of these may be found on the shelves of The York Emporium.

So now you have the opportunity to strike a blow for liberty: Resolve right now to sit down this week and read something that someone didn’t want you to see.

It will make you feel better.

Banned Books Week was created and principally sponsored by the American Library Association, and is now co-sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers for Free Expression, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, The Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Association of College Stores, the People for the American Way, the PEN American Center and Project Censored.

Sally Rand

The MidAtlantic Nostalgia Convention took place this past weekend at Hunt Valley, MD. This is an annual event; one that draws participants from around the country. This year, it also drew me.

You can find, in the vendor room, autographs, VHS tapes and DVDs of movies and TV shows. Scarce compilations of old time radio series (“You Bet Your Life”; “Johnny Dollar”). T-Shirts. Blooper reels and out-takes from the likes of Hogan’s Heros, Star Trek and Star Wars. And lots and lots of interesting collectibles (Tarzan trading cards, older Halloween costumes, obscure 1950s science fiction toys and action figures). And all kinds of stuff (anyone who knows me, knows that I do, very much, like stuff).

It brings celebrities and near-celebrities too. Two of the actors from My Three Sons were there (Barry and Stanley Livingston, real-life brothers who played, respectively, Ernie and Chip Douglas from the show). As was Tempest Storm (1950s-1960s exotic dancer and reputed paramour of both Elvis and JFK), Angela Cartwright (of Make Room for Daddy, Lost In Space and Sound of Music). Ms. Storm (yes, that is her real name) is getting up there in years and doesn’t much look like her photos from back in the day. But Ms. Cartwright is actually younger than I. When I bumped into her in a hallway, away from the line of autograph seekers, I kissed her hand (“I’ve been waiting all my life to do this,” I said as she scurried off to the ladies’ room).

I will admit that it was a bit of a rush to be standing in line for coffee one morning only to discover that Barry Livingston was next in line.
(Black; no sugar, for him.)

But, for me, the real find of the weekend (aside from the Ronald Reagan mask and the cthulhu statue) was on display in a little booth off the main vendor’s room: an autographed picture of Sally Rand. I grabbed it, and considered it a real steal at only $20.

Few remember Sally Rand anymore. But that’s understandable since her film career spanned a number of deservedly forgotten films from 1925 through 1938. randShe made her mark on the world as a fan dancer at the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago. She would play peek-a-boo with her body by manipulating her fans in front and behind her, like a winged bird as she swooped and twirled on the stage, usually to “Clair de Lune”.

The nudity was all an illusion, of course, since she actually wore a form-fitting body suit during her performances. Exotic lighting, silhouettes and wild imaginings did the trick. It was all pretty heady stuff for 1934.  Still, she was arrested for public indecency four times in a single day during the Fair. Later, in San Francisco, she was arrested twice in a single day for the same offense. (The second time, in addition to her body suit, she has a note slapped on her behind that read: “CENSORED. S.F.P.D.”). Ms. Rand (her real name was Helen Gould Beck) died in 1979.

So that was my weekend: coffee with Barry; kissing Angela; imaginings with Sally. Oh, and if my wife asks, I also managed to sell a few books.

The Art of Books

York’s newest downtown mural made a fairly quiet appearance last week (Sunday, August 23 to be exact) in the WeCo section of West Market Street. Informally entitled The Art of Books, the 16’ x 8’ piece of original art now graces the side of The York Emporium, and is visible as you travel down West Market Street heading into the Square.

As luck would have it, Randy Flaum, the “York Story Man” happened by during the installation, and created the story:


The Art of Books
The Art of Books

We had commissioned Hanover artist Christopher Barr to paint the work several months ago, and working in his garage/studio during the summer heat, he completed it; right on time, too, so it could be installed just prior to last weekend’s Pennsylvania Cigar Box Guitar Festival.

Chris and I worked together on the general concept, but he did all the heavy lifting on the piece. The idea was to show a cross section of popular works in one motif. And a number of books are represented:
• The works of 1930s horror writer H.P. Lovecraft
Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes
• Herman Melville’s Moby Dick
• The emerald city of Oz {including Dorothy’s house atop
a cyclone)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
• Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange
• J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit004
• Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five

• Harry Potter going after the snitch005
• Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

• George Orwell’s  1984                                                                                                           
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
• Stephen King’s Dark Tower

• Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy

Watership Down by Richard Adams
along with a few other things (a dragon, the Death Star of Star Wars fame, a sea serpent, a civil war soldier, and a flying saucer…just because).

Chris worked in oil-on-plywood and put a clear coat over the finished mural to protect it from the elements.

Will it last 1,000 years? Probably not. But we consider it contemporary public art.