German state objects to reprinting of Nazi newspapers

January 17th, 2009 - 8:39 am ICT by IANS  

Munich, Jan 17 (DPA) The German state of Bavaria demanded Friday that a British publishing company stop reprinting Nazi-period newspapers.The educational reprints of the newspapers have become best sellers in Germany where most people under 80 have never seen Nazi propaganda in the raw and those over 80 do not want to talk about it.

Albertas Ltd hired German historians to annotate the facsimiles and underline the methods of Nazi propaganda. The new weekly series, using papers from the 1930s and 1940s, is aimed at the general public and schools.

The first issue reprinted newspapers from the day that Adolf Hitler was elected German chancellor on Jan 30, 1933.

The state of Bavaria contended Friday it owned the copyright to the old newspapers and demanded that Albertas abandon the project and recall stocks for pulping.

Bavaria’s finance ministry took over all assets of the main Nazi publishing house, Eher, after the Second World War.

As the second issue of the series, Albertas had planned a facsimile of the Voelkischer Beobachter, a particularly vitriolic Nazi Party newspaper, which was published by Eher.

Several German historians have defended the project.

One, Wolfgang Benz of Berlin, said the edited facsimiles were more educational and less harmful than German television history programmes about the Nazis which include Nazi film footage and images of swastikas.

Bavaria has never allowed reprints of entire Nazi books and magazines, though quoting from them is allowed under German copyright law. Bavaria has consistently blocked plans to reprint Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, which remains under copyright till 2015.

Jewish commentators have been divided about the facsimiles.

Albertas quoted Christian Boehme, editor of the Jewish weekly Juedische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung, as approving. But Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews, has opposed the series.

Ralph Giordano, an author persecuted by the Nazis for his Jewish ancestry, said he feared some people would be convinced by the hate speech.

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