Germany sues Dutch site over Mein Kampf excerpt

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A state government in Germany intends launching legal proceedings against a Dutch website for publication of an excerpt from Adolf Hitler’s infamous book, Mein Kampf. The Finance Ministry of Bavaria holds the copyright on the book and says website Nieuws-wo2.tk is in violation of copyright laws.

The historical news website said it put up the fragment to support a colleague publisher in Germany, Peter McGee. The Bavarian state has also informed McGee that it will be taking measures to stop him publishing three segments of Mein Kampf with critical commentary from historians. McGee said he intended to put out weekly excerpts with a circulation of around 100,000.

His announcement that "a brochure of 12 to 15 pages" would be published on 26 January with excerpts from Mein Kampf printed on one side and commentary from a well-known historian on the opposite page created a stir in Germany.

"Everyone sees Mein Kampf “as a sort of diabolical Nazi Bible”, McGee told news agency AFP, "but people haven't read it and therefore haven't seen that it is the poor-quality and confused work of a totally twisted mind."

Violation of Dutch press freedom
Editor-in-chief of Nieuws-wo2.tk Arthur Graaff regards the Bavarian state’s action as “a violation of Dutch press freedom”. He has called on other websites to publish excerpts from Mein Kampf in protest.

“We regard the ban on publishing [the book] as out of date and draws an undesired parallel with Nazi Germany, where books were also banned,” said Graff.

Historical context
The front of the historical review entitled Zeitungszeugen ('Periodical Witnesses'), in which the excerpts are featured, presents a portrait of Hitler, his face cut off above the clipped moustache and set against a turquoise background.

McGee said the excerpts from the anti-Semitic manifesto - which laid out the Führer's vision long before he took power in 1933 - alongside commentary would put the work in historical context.

Academics said the time had come to get rid of some of the taboos surrounding the book in Germany.

The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, grudgingly gave his approval. "Of course it would be better if it were not published but if it has to be published, it must be accompanied by historians' commentary," he said.

Wedding gift from Nazis
Mein Kampf is not banned as such in Germany. But since the end of World War II, Bavaria, which holds the rights until 2015, has not permitted reprints.

Around 10 million copies were published in Germany until 1945, according to British historian Ian Kershaw. From 1936, every German couple marrying received a copy as a wedding gift from the Nazi state.

 

(jn)

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