The state’s finance ministry announced on Friday afternoon it was the owner of the rights over the original Nazi publishing house Eher and was putting a stop to its products being reproduced.
The first edition of Zeitungszeugen or Newspaper Witnesses included a complete reproduction of the Goebbels newspaper Der Angriff or The Attack from 1933.
The second edition is planned to include a reproduction of the Nazi paper the Völkischer Beobachter or People’s Observer – which also belonged to the Eher publishing house.
The ministry has demanded that the Zeitungszeugen stop reproducing the newspapers, and withdraw those currently on sale.
But the magazine’s staff said they would fight the ban. Editor Sandra Paweronschitz said in a statement: “The editorial staff and publishers of Zeitungszeugen will not accept the intention of the Bavarian finance ministry to ban the reproduction of the Nazi papers, Der Angriff or Völkischer Beobachter. We will use all legal means at our disposal to defend ourselves against this attack on press freedom.”
Publisher Peter McGee said the ownership of copyright on these papers was not as clear as many had thought. “We will let this be decided in court,” he said.
Berlin-based Nazi researcher Wolfgang Benz said the magazine, which includes critical analysis of the newspapers it reproduces, should be continued and argued that popular television historical shows included Nazi news clips and symbols too.
He told Spiegel Online: “Guido Knopp probably shows more pieces of film and symbols from the Third Reich in an hour of Nazi reportage in the ZDF free, and to an audience of millions. This is a historical and expert-led facsimile project.”
After the war, the US military government gave the Bavaria state government the copyright over the Nazi party and its companies. It was also given the explicit responsibility to prevent the further propagation of propaganda – which is why permission is not given either within Germany or elsewhere for papers to be reproduced.
Bavaria also has the rights to Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, but those rights expire in 2015, 70 years after Hitler’s death.