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Bavaria bids to block Hitler book

A German state government is looking at legal measures to prevent a British publisher's plans to reproduce excerpts from Adolf Hitler's infamous memoir Mein Kampf in Germany.

The Bavarian Finance Ministry said that publisher Peter McGee's plans to reproduce three 16-page segments of Mein Kampf with critical commentary, starting next week, may violate the copyright on the book, which it holds.

The ministry believes the segments are too long to be considered excerpts not covered by copyright.

Mr McGee said from London that his lawyer has advised him otherwise, and that he plans to go ahead with the publication of the segments as an insert to his weekly Zeitungszeugen magazine. It reproduces historical newspapers from the Nazi era alongside expert commentary.

"We're not surprised that they've taken that reaction from Munich but it's a little difficult to see how they say that when they haven't seen the product," said McGee, who is managing director of Albertas publishing house.

"We're not publishing 'Mein Kampf', we're publishing ... some excerpts of Mein Kampf with some critical commentary."

Mein Kampf is not banned in Germany as commonly believed, but Bavaria has used its ownership of the copyright to prevent its publication so far. Hitler wrote it after he was jailed in Bavaria in the aftermath of the failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 - a rambling and anti-Semitic book outlining his ideology.

After the Second World War, the Allies agreed to hand the rights to Mein Kampf over to the Bavarian state government. The copyright expires in 2015 - 70 years after Hitler's death.

Germany's Central Council of Jews president, Dieter Graumann, has noted that the book is already widely available on the internet and told the Jerusalem Post that he would rather German citizens read annotated excerpts from the book than access it from online sources.

The book is also easy to purchase in other countries, where the Bavarian government has been unable to hinder its publication due to different copyright legislation. A special case involves the US and Britain, for example, where the copyright had already been sold during Hitler's lifetime.

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