Slovak ‘Mein Kampf’ publisher investigated


PRAGUE, Dec. 20 (JTA) – A new entry has been added to the docket of legal cases involving translations of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Police in Slovakia confirmed Dec. 18 that they are investigating publisher Agnes Burdova, who may face charges for publishing a new Slovak translation of the book.

A police official said the investigation began as soon as police found out that Burdova was publishing the book, in which Hitler spelled out his racist ideology.

In another development, Czech state prosecutors brought charges this week against an Internet site owner who offered to sell Czech translations of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Vit Varak is accused of promoting movements that seek to suppress human rights.

Earlier this month, Czech publisher Michal Zitko was handed a three-year suspended sentence and fined $50,000 for publishing Hitler’s text without disclaimers or commentaries. Zitko is appealing the judgment.

Burdova recently printed several thousand copies for the Slovak market. The book is apparently accompanied by a 30-page commentary explaining the book’s anti-Semitic content.

According to the Slovak daily newspaper SME, Burdova was inspired to issue the Slovak version after having conversations with friends who had read Zitko’s Czech translation.

Slovak Jewish leaders and politicians condemned the publication of the book.

“I have not seen this Slovak publication, but if it is found that the commentaries are not adequate, the publisher should be prosecuted,” said Fero Alexander, executive chairman of Slovakia’s Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities.

During a visit to Prague last week, Slovakia’s deputy premier, Lubomir Fogas, defended the investigation of Burdova.

“I don’t see any reason why Slovakia should not prevent the spread of literature that is at variance with the basic trends of the country’s development,” he told journalists.

Czech Jewish representatives have expressed their opposition to the publication of the book in any language.

“The reaction to the Zitko case in the Czech Republic was very appropriate,” said Tomas Kraus, executive director of the Federation of Czech Jewish Communities.

“The courts here took a standpoint which very much converged with the view of the public,” Kraus said. “I am curious to see how the Slovak authorities and the public deal with this issue.”

Burdova herself is maintaining a low profile.

Before news broke of the police investigation, lawyer Jan Havlat confirmed that Burdova had already asked him to defend her in the event of criminal proceedings.

Havlat also indicated that Burdova lives in the Czech Republic, but refused to disclose her whereabouts.

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