Britain's largest bookstore chain has apologized for promoting Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" (My Struggle) as "the perfect present" for Christmas, reports British newspaper The Jewish Chronicle.
"Mein Kampf" was originally published in Germany in two volumes, in 1925 and 1926. At its center is an alleged Jewish conspiracy to gain world leadership. The book also describes how the Nazi leader became increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Communist, and outlines the fascist leader's political ideology.
It was published several years before Hitler rose to the position of German Chancellor in 1933.
The Waterstones store in Huddersfield, northern England, featured a personal recommendation of the book from a staff member, describing it as "an essential read for anyone seeking to understand one of history's most despicable figures. A shocking read and a vital warning for future generations." However, the pre-printed corner of the tag read "The perfect present…," a description that some found insensitive.
Though the staff member's description hardly counts as anti-Semitic praise, a Jewish salesman, Jonathan Levine, complained to the company, telling Waterstones that "When challenging one of the staff… I was told it was 'a Christmas bestseller which sold really well.' A dubious justification indeed for selling this hateful work."
Levine has since received an apology from the company.
A spokesman for Waterstones said that they have contacted all their stores to remind them of "the sensitivities" of stocking the title, and to ensure that it is not included in the "Politics" sections of its bookstores.
According to a 2003 article in Cabinet magazine, more than 20,000 English translations of "Mein Kampf" are sold each year. Some bookstores in India describe it as "a bestseller."
However, the book's sales are restricted in some countries. It has been banned in Germany since the end of World War Two, and it was also banned last year in Russia.
Canada's largest book chain, Chapters/Indigo, has refused to stock the book since 2001.
"Mein Kampf" is widely available in the United States, with an estimated 15,000 copies sold per year. Following an investigation by US News & World Report in 2000, the book's American publisher, Houghton Miffen, declared that it would donate all profits from the book to charity.