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Munich Regional Court: Nazi newspapers up to 1938 can be republished
By Karin Matussek

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Newspapers from the Third Reich’s early years, including the official Nazi publication Voelkischer Beobachter, can be reprinted in Germany, a Munich court ruled.

Publishers’ rights on articles that appeared in Nazi newspapers until 1938 have elapsed, the Munich Regional Court said in an e-mailed statement today. The judges partly threw out a bid by the Bavarian state government to ban republication.

“Bavaria has claimed to have acquired the original publisher’s rights as well as copyrights of Adolf Hitler,” the court wrote. “The state doesn’t hold any copyrights that would allow it to stop” use of the articles published before 1939.

The Voelkischer Beobachter, which included inflammatory cartoons, was the Nazis’ official party newspaper and a primary propaganda device and agitation tool. Hitler’s Nazi party was founded in Munich’s Hofbraeuhaus, a landmark beer hall, in 1920.

Bavaria has used Nazi-era intellectual-property rights it acquired after World War II to stop reprints of Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf,” and other Third Reich propaganda in an effort to prevent misuse by Neo-Nazis and to combat racism and anti- Semitism. Bavaria will appeal the ruling, according to a statement on the Web site of the region’s Finance Ministry.

The state acquired the rights of Eher-Verlag, which during that time published “Voelkischer Beobachter” and “Der Angriff,” or German for “The Attack.” A publishing house’s rights elapse 70 years after publication, the court said.
Bavaria sought to ban the weekly “Zeitungszeugen,” German for “newspaper witnesses,” which first went on sale in January. The weekly is trying to provide readers with insight into the media landscape of the Nazi Era, according to its Web site. Editions also include historian analysis and commentary.

The magazine can’t reprint articles from 1939 to 1945 because Bavaria still holds rights for that period, the court said.

The National Socialist German Workers Party, or NSDAP, came to power in 1933 and ruled until Germany’s defeat in 1945.

The case is LG Muenchen, 21 O 1425/09.
To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at
Last Updated: March 25, 2009 13:07 EDT