MAINZ, Germany — The first 4,000 copies of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" have sold out less a week after a new annotated version of the Nazi leader's manifesto hit German bookstores.
Publishers also received 15,000 pre-orders before sales even started on January 8, said Simone Paulmichl of Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History (IFZ), the government-funded research institution that produced the book.
"We were quite surprised that there were so many advance orders, despite the fact that people did not even have the chance to take a first look in bookstores," she said. IFZ did not say when the next print run would be.
The 2,000-page book, which is being sold for 59 euros ($64) across the country, has also reached the non-fiction bestseller list of Germany's prestigious news magazine Der Spiegel.
This is the first time that "Mein Kampf" — which translates as "My Struggle" or "My Fight" — has gone on sale in Germany since World War II. But by the fall of Hitler's Nazi regime, more than 12 million copies of the book had been printed.
The southern German state of Bavaria, which had held the copyright since 1945 when it took over control of the main Nazi publishing house, blocked all reprints out of respect for the victims of the Holocaust. IFZ decided to publish the book after the copyright expired.
However, English-language editions of "Mein Kampf" are accessible online in full.
As opposed to the original, which was aimed a spreading the Nazi leader's thoughts, the new version of "Mein Kampf" strives to understand and put into context its hateful language and ideology, publishers said.
"Hitler's 800-page book is in great parts anti-Semitic, displays imperialistic thinking and violence," the IFZ's Christian Hartmann told NBC News ahead of the publication. "For Hitler, violence was the core of human existence."
In an editorial entitled "A good new edition of a very bad old book," Britain's Guardian newspaper praised the "care, wisdom and admirable scholarship" with which the new edition had been put together, saying that the publication "goes one step further towards demystifying the roots of the evil that unfolded."
IFZ said buyers were mostly interested in contemporary history or were fans of non-fiction political books.
"The feedback from booksellers shows that it is not the ideologically problematic people, the neo-Nazi types, who buy the book," Paulmichl said.
Another sign of the book's popularity was that a panel discussion organized by the IFZ on Tuesday sold out — attracting 510 visitors.
"The scientific reviews and assessments following the publication were very positive," Paulmichl added.