Germany Stops Publication of Nazi Newspapers

Police in the southern German state of Bavaria have so far confiscated 2,500 reprints of old Nazi newspapers after German authorities slapped a nationwide ban on the controversial project.

The weekly Zeitungszeugen, a new publication by British publisher Albertas, reprints copies of original newspapers from the Nazi era.

In London, Albertas says it has already readied Issue 2 -- a reprint of the Völkischer Beobachter, the infamous Nazi party paper.

Its first issue was launched two weeks ago. Readers were offered a look at Germany's Nazi history through the country's newspapers from January 1933, when Adolf Hitler first came to power.

The headline story is accompanied with an anti-Semitic commentary by Hitler's propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels, who was also editor of the Nazi paper Der Angriff. Also included is a reprint of a Nazi poster showing the Reichstag parliament building on fire.

Albertas says the project is supposed to examine the history of the country's media.

"The reprints come with commentaries explaining the historical context and dissect the Nazi's propaganda tricks," said Peter McGhee, CEO of Albertas.

Readers will be able to see what their parents and grandparents were reading during the 12 years of the Third Reich, including Hitler's speeches; and from the takeover by the Nazis in 1933, how the newspapers reported the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1939 to the collapse in 1945 and the democratization of the German press after World War II.

Each edition of Zeitungszeugen will include three to four original newspaper sections from that period sandwiched between commentary and analysis from a team of historians.

"The publication of these newspapers and articles is meant to inform the public about the facts and to start a debate on the purpose and workings of propaganda as it was used by the Nazis and how it worked. It's purely meant to be informative."

"The question is: Do you leave the existing information behind locked archives because it's taboo to talk about it or do you investigate, make it public and have a debate about it?"

Meanwhile, not everyone is convinced of the project's historic value. Jewish groups expressed alarm and German authorities acted swiftly, seizing unsold copies from the newsstands this weekend.

Stefan Lenzenhuber, spokesman for the Bavarian Justice Ministry in Munich, told ABC News, "The publishing house has clearly committed a criminal offense by reprinting Nazi symbols, such as the swastika, and moreover, the publication constitutes a clear breach of copyright, as the publishing rights for all Nazi newspapers lay solely with the state of Bavaria."

Bavaria's finance ministry, which holds the rights not only to all Nazi newspapers and but also to Hitler's book "Mein Kampf," is threatening to take the publishers to court, pressing charges against them for copyright infringement.

But Albertas' McGhee tells ABC News he's waiting to hear from the German authorities.

"We have now published this project in eight different countries, including Austria where it was very successful and well received. Everywhere the publication has started a debate, which is our main purpose. The only place that the publication has caused a problem is the state of Bavaria. I don't know what the base is for their legal actions, but as soon as I find out I will discuss the issue with my legal team and think about the next step."

Hoda Farhanghi contributed to the reporting of this story.

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