Anne Frank's Diary… And Hitler's Mein Kampf Hit The Public Domain In Europe – Despite Concerns About Both

from the and-off-we-go dept

Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler both died in 1945 — with Frank’s death being caused by Hitler. European law (for now) says that copyright lasts 70 years “after death” of an author, and that means that the published writings of each of those individuals are now in the public domain in Europe — though there’s serious controversy about both. Even though we won’t see any new public domain works here in the US for quite some time, over in Europe, at least some works are able to enter the public domain each January 1st.

As we noted a couple months ago, the Anne Frank Foundation (Anne Frank Fonds) has been lying and telling people that Frank’s father, Otto Frank, is a co-author of the diary and therefore the copyright doesn’t expire until 70 years after his death. Otto Frank, obviously, did quite a lot to get his daughter’s diaries published and spread around the world. And for that, people should be thankful. But the attempt to keep the work under copyright is shameful and pure copyfraud, and it tarnishes the image of the Anne Frank Fonds, which has done much good in the world.

And while the Foundation insists that it will fight any plans to release the book, it appears that many are ignoring such threats. French Parliament member Isabelle Attard, who has been vocal in criticizing the copyfraud attempt, has posted a copy of the text in the original Dutch on her personal website. Meanwhile, the Internet Archive appears to have the full text in English, though it actually appears to be a later edited version of the diaries, which is not in the public domain (though the Archive says it’s relying on fair use for the posting).

And now we wait to see if the promised legal action follows…

Meanwhile, over in Germany, Hitler’s Mein Kampf is available for the first time in decades. As we’ve discussed in the past, the copyright story on Mein Kampf is somewhat bizarre. The US government seized it after the end of World War II, and then transferred it to the government of Bavaria, who used it to bar all printing of the book in Germany. There had been some panic that making the book available would increase neo-Nazi sentiment in Germany, but it also might better educate the public on the insanity that was Adolf Hitler. As we noted last year, there was also a bizarre instance back in the 1930s when future Senator Alan Cranston tried to publish Mein Kampf in America to show just how batshit crazy Hitler was (an officially published version in the US had been watered down to hide much of the craziness) — and Hitler and his publisher sued over the publication, helping to get the original Mein Kampf censored in the US.

The new version being released in Germany is (smartly) an annotated version “with thousands of academic notes, [which] will aim to show that Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is incoherent and badly written, rather than powerful or seductive.”

Still, German officials claim that they are going to try to “limit public access” to the original text, even though it will be (and, let’s face it, already is) widely available on the internet.

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Comments on “Anne Frank's Diary… And Hitler's Mein Kampf Hit The Public Domain In Europe – Despite Concerns About Both”

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crade (profile) says:

What exactly are they so scared of? Not censoring says it can be counter argued or ignored. Censoring the book gives it credence and says you think it is so compelling as to be dangerous.

How many neo-Nazis have been created by the fact that Mein Kampf has been censored alone; a much more succinct and compelling argument than any in the book

spodula (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Here in Europe, the powers that be have never been that impressed by that “Free speech” lark you colonials harp on about.

Free speech is fine as long as its speech you agree with…
Anything else is “Extremism”.

In fact, EXACTLY the same as in the 1930’s, when this WASNT extremism, because it was a majority tolerated view. And contrary speech was punished by Nazi thugs…

Or to badly quote the meme, “How does it feel to be so insecure that my words hurt you?”

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You’re projecting. I’m not American, but it’s not that I’m so impressed by free speech, it’s that I know what censorship means. There are exactly 2 reasons to censor something, because you are corrupt and trying to manipulate the truth to your own ends or because you are scared their argument is so compelling that you can’t offer decent counter.

Besides, they are going to start another world war sooner or later anyway.. 🙂 Those that try to hide the past are doomed to repeat it.

UniKyrn (profile) says:

Best Timing Ever

So the two books that show both sides of the insanity back then are now public domain. I’m looking forward to seeing somebody combine the two, stories from Frank, justification from Hitler, that show the link between what he believed and how those beliefs got used to justify what happened.

No, for the record, I’ve never read either book. But I don’t remember ever seeing a better chance of the writings of two people from each end of the bell curve that was WW2 being publicly compared to each other.

It’s even more insane that both had to be dead for 70 years before it might happen.

TRX (profile) says:

> is incoherent and badly written

It was mostly written by Hess, who pieced together various of Hitler’s monologues. Much of the book is a long screed against the politics of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was probably just stuck in there to pad it out, since Hitler had no real stake in it after he went off to Germany.

If you can keep grinding along, there are (at least in the James Murphy translation) some real zingers in there, though. Adolf Hitler never demonstrated anything resembling a sense of humor, so it was probably Hess having a little fun.

Most people don’t think of any humor being in Mein Kampf, but they’re not alone in not having read it; most of the top Nazis bragged that they hadn’t read it either…

PaulT (profile) says:

“There had been some panic that making the book available would increase neo-Nazi sentiment in Germany”

While banning it, of course, ensures that nobody will ever read it and there’s certainly not any black market among Nazi sympathizers who use its banned nature as a selling point for recruitment.

I bet there’s people dumb enough to believe that, too.

Anonymous Coward says:

AFF needs to update their website

From the Anne Frank Fonds, Basel:

May I work with the text of the diary?

No, not without the AFF’s permission. Rights must be granted before the texts may be processed or utilised. Enquiries about these rights can be addressed to the Anne Frank Fonds ( The Anne Frank Fonds licenses rights around the world and supports, in particular, their use for educational purposes.

From the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam (a separate organization):

Copyright Law Cannot be Used to Thwart Scientific Research

The Amsterdam district court has pronounced its ruling on 23 December 2015 in a case brought against the Anne Frank House and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) by the Anne Frank Fonds from Basel, Switzerland. The Anne Frank House and the Huygens Institute for Netherlands History (Huygens ING), which falls under the KNAW, according to the Anne Frank Fonds have violated the Fonds’ copyright by doing textual and historical research on Anne Frank’s manuscripts. The Anne Frank House and the KNAW are of the opinion that the research falls under the freedom of scientific pursuit. In its ruling, the Amsterdam court found in favour of the Anne Frank House and the KNAW.

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