Czech court rules publication of Hitler's speeches was legal
The publication of a book entitled Adolf Hitler: Projevy (Adolf Hitler: Speeches) is not a felony and its publisher should not face prosecution. Yesterday the Regional Court in Brno upheld the verdict of the Municipal Court in Brno from last September, which came to the same conclusion.
The judgment has now taken effect. The indictment had alleged that the publication of the book, which features 18 speeches by the Nazi dictator, amounted to approval of genocide.
Hitler's speeches will therefore remain on sale. The owners of the Brno-based publishing house Guidemedia, Pavel Kamas and Lukáš Novák, as well as the creator of the publication, Stanislav Beer, were facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The owners claimed that they do not approve of genocide and that by publishing the speeches they merely want to provide readers with historical documents. They also claimed it would be up to the public to draw its own conclusions.
Kamas left the courtroom satisfied. "It has been proven that freedom of speech still exists in our country. I expected the trial would reach this conclusion from the beginning," he told the Czech News Agency.
The publisher said he believes the verdicts in this case send the message to the public that they can "publish and read what they want." The prosecution now can appeal to the Czech Supreme Court.
For the time being it is not clear whether the case will be appealed. The book was published in 2012 in a print run of 10 000.
By the summer of 2014 the title had sold out and Guidemedia issued a reprint. Kamas would not say how many were printed but did say that "If the book sells, we will continue to print and distribute it."
Last September Judge Martin Hrabal, who presided over the trial at the Municipal Court in Brno, said the court had familiarized itself with the publication in detail in order to seek an answer to the question of whether the commentary written by Stanislav Beer regarding Hitlers' speeches sounded like agreement with them. "From the content point of view it would be very difficult to draw such an inference," the judge said.
He also reminded the court that in the preface to the book, its creators state that it is not their intention to pass judgment on Hitler's ideas and that they wanted to present them in their authentic form. The indictment had accused the publishers of glorifying the dictator and promoting the ideas of National Socialism, specifically, his opinions and thoughts about the alleged oppression of the German population in Czechoslovakia and his critique of "international Jewry".
A different publisher in the Czech Republic was taken to court previously for publishing Hitler's book Mein Kampf. That publisher was first given a suspended sentence before the Czech Supreme Court acquitted him in March 2005.
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