Archive.org as a Platform for Nazi Propaganda

(an English version of http://archiv.twoday.net/stories/4606498 )

Publishing digitized versions of programmatic or propagandistic nazi material is always a difficult issue. I think that, generally, such texts must be part of any truly universal retro digitization project, and that they are part of the historical material that digital libraries must provide. That said, publications should contain scholarly introductions or at least a classification with some historical background. In some legislations (e. g. in Germany) these may even be necessary in order to distinguish educational historical material from propaganda published for political reasons.

As Klaus Graf already pointed out on Archivalia in August 2007 (Link), the internet archive „https://archive.org“ in its all-in approach to preserving everything does not distinguish anything at all, and hence has become a veritable platform for neo nazis. There are more or less educational historic nazi pamphlets (Link), but also dozens of newer and newest texts from Holocaust deniers (Link). I doubt that they have been uploaded for historical research, since they are propagandistic in nature as well as commonly used by neo-nazis until today.

All this is still documentation, albeit documentation taken too far for my taste, and also much too far for German and Austrian laws.

Now what is really outrageous is that introductions and commentaries on the historical sources are propagandistic in nature (Link):

Daß diese alte Schrift „ausschließlich zu Zwecken des wissenschaftlichen Studierens“ gedacht ist, versteht sich von selbst. Die in ihr dargelegten Worte sind klarer Natur und sprechen für sich. Möge ihr Geist auch über 70 Jahre nach ihrer Niederschrift, unter völlig veränderten Zuständen, wirken!

(My translation: „It’s obvious that this old work is „only for scholarly studies“ [ironically citing the exemption in German laws that allows publication of otherwise banned nazi works] The words herein are of a clear nature and speak for themselves. May their spirit take effect even 70 years after writing, in completely different states of things.“)

This is the introduction to https://archive.org’s scan of the nazi pamphlet „Die Frauenfrage und ihre Loesung durch den Nationalsozialismus“ (The question of women’s rights and its solution by National Socialism), written in 1933 by Paula Siber von Groote, head of division at the Ministery of the Interior of Nazi Germany.

This is not retro digitization or documentation anymore, it is propaganda of the worst kind, in the front matter (= meta data) of an https://archive.org scan. https://Archive.org should part with contributors like this uploader quickly and thoroughly.

Update: https://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=175053


8 Gedanken zu „Archive.org as a Platform for Nazi Propaganda

  1. Gutentag— Ich bin dudeman5685 Ich kennt klein deutsch; dies bucher Ich uploaded – nazi, communitistishen, scientologich, etc – fur gechests – und sozialforshoung.

    In English – i have upload alot of the said books, nazi, neo-nazi, as well as various Maoists and controversial religous texts, such as Jack Chicks famous anti-Catholic books and Scientologist critiques of psychiatry. While I am sure some followers of these sects will see them, my primary hope was that they could be accessed by scholars and by the interested public.

    I felt, in a perhaps a very naive, American way, that if people saw all these, saw how conspiracy theories could be fitted to serve any purpose, see how they all refer back to each other, then perhaps they would see the error and folly of such extremist doctrines. Perhaps even members of these movements would become disenchanted with them. (As an aside, I would like to note that i plan to write my thesis on a theoretical definition of extremism)

    While the nazi texts have been most prominent so far, i have recently been adding new ones from the Maoist branch of communism. You noted in your commentary that communism and nazism couldn’t be equalled, but the fanaticism that marks maoism is, I think, enough like the nazis to justify a moral equivalence.

    Also, I have recently been adding texts from American sources during the Second World War, such as „Can the Germans be Re-Educated“.

    I have touched on this issue previously:
    http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=142955

    • If you really think that what you do there is a good thing, it seems to me that you don’t have neither the necessary expertise nor the necessary language knowledge to do this right. You uploaded a scan of a historical work that has a neo-nazi foreword. If you cannot even recognize this, you are wrong in your job. And if you do and still upload this crap, you are also wrong.

      Furthermore, you uploaded dozens of copyrighted neo nazi pamphlets. What’s your goal with this? Propaganda? Or harming archive.org? They will be very vulnerable when copyrighted material is uploaded to their site in the scale you do.

    • Well, I guess now I know how old Bellerphron felt. I thought a pamphlet about what the Nazis thought about women would be interesting, but the introduction I couldn’t read has now got the whole German blogoshere on my case

    • Everything is gone Previously I had uploaded approximately 1700 items on Internet Archive, of various content. Yes, some were from the third reich, and I noted these that they were nazi or antisemitic. Yes, some were neo-nazi, or generally racist, and I noted that too. I also explicitly stated that this was only for historical and research purposes. Even when it was holocaust denial, i put right there in the subject line, that it was holocaust denial and antisemitic.

      I also upload pamphlets opposing the nazis and contemporary anti-semitism. And some that had absolutly nothing to do with that, concentrating on issues of communism, religous controversies, etc.

      Now ALL of this is gone. Hundreds of hours work. 1000s of MB of valuable historical and sociological data are gone.

      Do you really think that was necessary?

    • It may not have been necessary to delete everything, but in any case pretty much everything you uploaded were clear copyright violations. I guess the Internet Archive finally noticed that and took the necessary actions.

  2. Reading the comments at http://forums.archivists.org/read/messages?id=10842 , I cannot help but wonder if anyone actually read my article beyond the title. I don’t condemn the display of Nazi primary sources as such, but the way this is done at archive.org. And the bias that most of the German texts on this website are indeed nazi propaganda materials, old and new, as if nothing else would have been written. Maybe many years of Hollywood movies (in the US) and The Sun (in Britain) have shaped that idea of Germany, which is nevertheless wrong in many respects.

    Another common reaction at archivists.org (and in other forums) to my article is to answer immediately with the question about communist materials. This is actually a very common right-wing argument (the most famous war between German intellectuals in the last thirty years was about this very topic, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historikerstreit ). But there’s a big difference, between the historical crimes (National Socialism was completely racist, Communism only partly, but mostly political at least of some sort), but even more between the ideology. Communist theory and propaganda mostly reads like something many people still would gladly endorse, its goals are not bad per se. What they did in the name of this ideology is evil, not what they wrote about it. Nazi goals, nazi theory and nazi propaganda, on the other hand, are intrinsically racist and murderous. Saying „I praise international solidarity, I will fight for equality of all mankind“ is something profoundly different to saying „I praise my own people which I consider to be a race, and I will fight for the extinction of all Jews“. However, this seems hard to understand from an American point of view that values freedom of speech over pretty much everything else. As long as no nudity is involved, of course.

    • German Texts If the problem is you think this is too embarrassing for Germany, I’m sorry if the image conveyed is unflattering, I could try to find some more positive German texts to upload if you wish to counter an unflattering „Hun“ stereotype

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