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Czech book with Hitler speeches is a hot potato

hitler-1939-bundesarchiv_0013 June 2014

Municipal Court weighs right to information against ban on release of Nazi literature

Prague, June 3 (ČTK) — The Brno Municipal Court will have to decide between the right to information and a ban on its release in the case of the publication of a Czech book of speeches of Adolf Hitler, Karel Steigerwald writes in daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

Court proceedings with three representatives of the Guidemedia publishing house started June 2. The editors may go to prison for up to 10 years for promotion of Nazism and Holocaust denial, and their publishing house may be shut down if the charges filed against them are proved.

Though the Czech legal system is not based on the principle of precedent, the court verdict will strongly influence potential future publishers of extremist and other controversial texts and their possible trials, Steigerwald writes.

He says the Guidemedia case concerns the protection of the right to information, the right to study the past and free access to the past on the one hand, and a ban on the spreading of perverted ideologies that harmed so many people on the other.

It is always tricky to punish the spreading of information, and it may do more harm than good, Steigerwald writes.

However, the view that the promotion of information should not be violated and is vital for the healthy development of society is not rooted in the Czech Republic, he says.

The country has little experience with such a liberal concept of freedom. Experience with banning and concealing various opinions, data, events and facts is much greater, Steigerwald adds.

To read or study Hitler’s speeches and not their interpretations is of key importance for the understanding and study of history, he says.

Those who want to be Nazis mostly do not read Hitler’s speeches, or they find access to banned fragments. A ban will encourage their support of Nazism rather than prevent it, Steigerwald writes.

Those who want to ban the publishing of Hitler’s speeches should seriously consider their arguments for the view that the publishing will be harmful, he says.

Hitler’s speeches caused a lot of harm: The monstrous Nazism ideology was based on them, and they enchanted a great part of the German nation. Precisely for this reason, one should get acquainted with these speeches, Steigerwald writes.

It is hard to tolerate the influence of Hitler’s opinions on the public, and the wish to ban them can be understood, he says.

If Czech courts start punishing the promotion of information from the Nazi era, they cannot ignore the communist era. Not only those praising Hitler but also those who praise Stalin or his Czech parallel, Klement Gottwald, would be prosecuted and punished as a result, Steigerwald writes.

This would be the worst solution: It would not affect the spreading or limiting of Nazism and communism, but it would influence the freedom of all citizens, Steigerwald concludes.

Guidemedia’s defense lawyer, Tomáš Pecina, told the court Monday that the publishing of Hitler’s speeches can be considered the promotion of Nazism, but Nazism is a dead ideology that was defeated in 1945. The publishing of a historical document cannot be considered a crime, Pecina argued.

The most controversial part of the Czech edition of Hitler’s speeches are the editor’s comments on individual speeches.

State attorney Jan Petrášek recalled Monday that the Guidemedia publisher was tried over the publication of the Czech translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in the past, and he was acquitted of the charges in 2005.

But Petrášek pointed to the fact that Mein Kampf was issued without any comments, unlike the book of Hitler’s speeches published in 2012.

Petrášek also noted that all three suspects have been punished by court in the past before: one for breach of the peace and fraud, one for theft and one for causing bodily harm.

Late last year, Guidemedia published the program of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). Miroslav Mareš, an expert in extremism, said he can see no problem in the publishing of the book. The NSDAP program is available on the Internet anyway, he said.

Guidemedia has published eight books so far, all concerning Nazism and World War II.

On Monday, the three charged representatives of Guidemedia tried to distribute copies of the Czech book of Hitler’s speeches for free in the courtroom, but the judge did not allow it.

The trial will continue July 9.

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One Response

  1. Lulugh says:

    > Hitler wrote some nice poetry and drew some petrty pictures and just as this does not make me think that he is a good person, it does notmake me think that the paintings are bad.I had an ex-girlfriend who insisted that I throw away my Wagner CDs. One ofmy friends destroyed his Judas Priest collection when Halford finally admittedhe was homosexual, and then nearly took a swing at me when I told him so weremembers of Accept (as if anyone could listen to the lyrics and not guess) One ofmy coworkers donated her Fire and Ice books when JRR went completely offthe deep end about Bush’s reelection.To me, these actions are [insert PC term suggesting irrational thinking].A work of art or a damn bridge does not magically become less precious becauseof the convictions of its creator. It is A-OK to boycott someone whose actionsdisplease you, and I can see how they can affect your enjoyment of his work.But attacking the quality of the product makes about as much sense as to stopliking your favorite painting because the artist commits suicide, or because themodel ends up addicted to cocaine both of which unfortunately happened forthe painting in my living room (local Laguna Beach people, no one famous)

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