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    Joseph Goebbels, Third Reich Commissioner for Radio and Propaganda, is shown in the 1930s.

    German Anger as Goebbels' Family to Be Paid Royalties Over Diary Extracts

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    There is uproar in Germany and across Europe after a court ruled that descendants of former Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels should be paid royalties for extracts from his diaries that were published in a book about Nazi rule in Germany.

    The decision in the Munich district court has sparked outrage among critics, with the book's publisher saying they would challenge the decision in the German Supreme Court, arguing that copyright laws should be overturned on moral grounds.

    The Munich court ruled against the publisher, Random House Germany, despite saying that the rights to Goebbels' literary estate are due to expire at the end of the year and that similar cases are not expected "to any significant extent in the future."

    The case was brought forward by Cordula Schacht, the daughter of Hitler's minister of economics Hjalmar Schacht, on behalf of the Goebbels estate.
    The estate is thought to consist of the direct descendants of Goebbels' four siblings.

    Moral and Legal Questions Arise

    Rainer Dresen, general counsel of Random House Germany, said he was saddened by the decision, and argued that the publisher had more than a moral case, pointing out that Goebbels' name was on a post-war list of war criminals whose estate was banned from financial transactions.

    Dresen said he also made an offer to pay royalties, as long as the finds went to a charity, however this proposal was knocked back by the Goebbel estate legal advisers.

    He also spoke of the irony of the court's setting in Munich; a city where Hitler and the Nazis rose initially, gaining popularity.

    "You have a strange feeling. You're crossing those buildings, buildings where… Hitler was… on the balcony. That of course is not a legal thing. It's a moral issue."

    Dresen also criticized the insensitive nature of the decision, given Germany's Nazi history.

    "They have no feeling for the meaning above the legal questions… I was shocked by the [court's] lack of historical interest… They took the easy road."

    He said that by ignoring the moral issues, people "can go on ignoring the fundamental question: should money go to the estate of a war criminal?"

    The case relates to a 2010 biography of Goebbels written by Peter Longerich in German, which was translated and published to English earlier this year by Penguin Random House UK and contains extracts from Goebbels diaries.


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