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Store keeper prosecuted for selling ‘Mein Kampf’

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mein-kampf-adam-jonesThe Totalitarian Art Gallery in Amsterdam lives up to its name and trades in ‘totalitarian memorabilia’.

As far as memorabilia go, things don’t get much more totalitarian than Adolf Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ (‘My Struggle’). That book is said to be illegal in the Netherlands and if it is not, we will soon find out.

Last Friday at noon exactly a pair of detectives entered The Totalitarian Art Gallery at the Singel canal in Amsterdam and ascertained that, yes, store keeper Michiel van Eyk did indeed own a copy of Mein Kampf and yes, he did intend to sell it. The detectives proceeded to confiscate the book and to hand Van Eyk a summons, AT5 reports.

Last January Van Eyk was interrogated for “about an hour” at an unnamed police station about his motives for selling the controversial book. He told AT5 back then: “I don’t want to defend myself, I want this to go to court.” His wish is now granted, a first session has been planned for 26 August. Van Eyk will get to defend himself against charges of hate speech.

Mein Kampf’s legality is yet to be tested in the Netherlands, but hasn’t been much of an issue so far. The copyright to the book is held by the government of the state of Bavaria in Germany and will only run out in 2016. In 1997 Winnie Sorgdrager, then Minister of Justice, told parliament that the act of selling the book would expose a person to prosecution on the basis of article 137e of the Dutch criminal code, which forbids hate speech. She added that a publication was conceivably legal in a “scientifically responsible publication”, which she interpreted as “a publication in which the publisher or editor [...] distance themselves of the contents of the original text”. That must have been the dumbest take on science that I have seen in at least a week. (Yes, it’s been a slow week).

(Photo by Adam Jones, some rights reserved)

5 Comments »

  1. Equating reading a book (not a pdf or an e-book mind you) with hate speech is an outdated notion and this really needs to go to court.

    Comment by Orangemaster — June 21, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

  2. The law is that you can own “Mein Kampf” (I have it here in my bookcase; the copy my father bought after he came back from the work camp in Germany) but you can’t sell it because hate speech laws.

    Comment by mare — June 22, 2014 @ 5:03 am

  3. The law says that you may not own a copy if your intent is to publish hate speech from it. (Selling the book counts as publishing in this case.)

    Comment by Branko Collin — June 22, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

  4. How do you measure intent? There’s no logic whatsoever in this anymore.

    Comment by Orangemaster — June 26, 2014 @ 10:44 am

  5. Having a price tag on the book, the shop keeper admitting that he wishes to sell it, and so on.

    Comment by Branko Collin — June 26, 2014 @ 10:50 am

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