Paper may face legal action on copyright to Goebbels diary

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The Independent Online
THE Sunday Times will face legal action for breach of copyright over the Goebbels diaries unless at least pounds 25,000 is paid to Francois Genoud, the Swiss businessman and Nazi sympathiser who holds the copyright on behalf of the Goebbels family.

Mr Genoud said in an interview yesterday that he had read that the Sunday Times had said it would not pay him a penny. If this was true, he said, those responsible at the paper were 'bandits and thieves' and he would sue.

He has already fired the first warning shot. On Friday, the London firm of solicitors Peter Carter Ruck, acting for Mr Genoud, faxed a letter to the Sunday Times's lawyers to remind them that their client held the copyright and nothing could be published without his authorisation. By last night Mr Genoud had received no response.

'If the Sunday Times publishes without my authorisation, it's their problem,' he said. 'I am very nave and I still think they will be correct. But when I see this is not the case we will fight for breach of copyright.'

Whether or not he succeeds, the Goebbels heirs are already set to receive thousands of pounds as a result of the serialisations of the diaries, paid through Mr Genoud, who is an open admirer of Hitler and a supporter of Nazi causes.

The Daily Mail, which began printing extracts from the diaries last week, has paid Mr Genoud 50,000 marks (about pounds 17,000) as a copyright fee. Although the Sunday Times, which starts its serialisation today, insists it has paid no money to Mr Genoud, he is set to receive a number of payments from other sources as a result of the Sunday Times's efforts.

Chief among these is David Irving, the controversial historian contracted by the Sunday Times to transcribe extracts from a complete version of the diaries discovered in Moscow. Mr Irving, who is to receive a fee of pounds 75,000, plus VAT, has offered Mr Genoud pounds 25,000, but this has not been accepted. Mr Irving insisted that this was not a copyright payment: 'I wanted Genoud to have something as he is an old friend and I didn't want him to feel deprived.'

The Goebbels heirs also stand to benefit if the Sunday Times sells its material to newspapers or magazines elsewhere in Europe, since Mr Genoud has fought through the courts of several countries to establish his copyright claim. In Italy last year, for example, he received about dollars 10,000 ( pounds 5,250) for rights on Goebbels diary extracts, according to sources at the publishing house Mondadori.

Mr Genoud, 77, who lives in the Swiss city of Lausanne, gives his support both to Nazi and to anti-Israel causes. He is said to have financed the defences of both Adolf Eichmann and Klaus Barbie. His devotion to Nazi cause dates back to an encounter with Hitler in 1932. 'I personally have the highest regard and admiration for Hitler. He was a great man,' he said.

Since the immediate aftermath of the war he has been acting in legal matters for the families of Nazi leaders and on their behalf he holds copyright to materials by Hitler and Martin Bormann as well as Goebbels. The families, he said, 'don't want to make any public fuss or to become involved in controversy because they suffered a great deal after the war'.

In the case of the Goebbels estate, it is believed that Mr Genoud represents the families of the propaganda minister's nephews and nieces. He has certainly had dealings with Goebbels's sister.

(Photograph omitted)

Papers Irving missed, page 17

Leading article, page 24