The estate of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s minister for propaganda during the Second World War, is suing publisher Random House Germany for using an extract from his diaries.
The biography Goebbels, published in Germany in 2010 under the Siedler imprint, is by Peter Longerich, professor of modern German history at Royal Holloway University. Random House did not pay a fee to the Goebbel’s estate, run by Cordula Schacht, for using the diary extracts.
Cordula Schacht – a lawyer whose father was Hitler’s minister of economics and the owner of the copyright – is now suing Random House for royalties.
Rainer Dresen, general counsel of Random House Germany, told the Guardian the publisher does not want to pay, saying: “We are convinced that no money should go to a war criminal.” When first contacted by Schacht, he “did not want to believe that anyone can claim royalties for Goebbels’ words”.
Goebbels was one of the architects of the ‘Final Solution’, which led to the Nazis exterminating millions of Jewish people in Europe. At the end of the war he killed himself and his family to escape capture by the Allies.
However, lawyers in Germany have questioned whether copyright laws can be ignored because of moral objections, according to a BBC report.
Penguin Random House UK is set to publish the English edition of Goebbels on the 7th May 2015.