French auction house pulls 'Mein Kampf' sale after protests

PARIS - French auction house Pierre Bergé & Associés said Wednesday it has withdrawn from sale a rare first edition of Hitler's "Mein Kampf" following a protest from a Jewish watchdog body.

The National Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA) had opposed the sale and had criticised the auctioneers for presenting Hitler's autobiography/manifesto, "as if it was just another work or art written by a poet or a member of the French Academy".

The copy had been predicted to fetch between 3,000 and 4,000 euros ($4,200-$5,600) as part of a scheduled May 16 sale of a library of crime-related works owned by Philippe Zoummeroff, a retired industrialist.

Zoummeroff, who is Jewish, said he had acquired his copy of "Mein Kampf" "to show what has existed, to document the despicable".

"Mein Kampf" is not banned in France in line with a 1979 court ruling that it constitutes a historical document which is indispensable for the understanding of the contemporary period.

Another French aution house last month cancelled a planned sale of some 40 objects belonging to Hitler or his henchman Hermann Goering following intervention by France's culture minister.

Two copies of "Mein Kampf" which had been signed by Hitler were controversially auctioned in Los Angeles earlier this year and sold for nearly $65,000.