Copyreich: Sweden

In Sweden, Mein Kampf has been published a number of times.

Schildts förlag (1934)

Medéns (1941)

Askild & Kärnekull (1970)

Hägglunds förlag (1992)

In 1992, Hägglunds förlag had 10,000 copies of an old translation printed. In 1994, the Free State of Bavaria filed suit against Hägglund for copyright infringement. Due to the severity of the issue, the Swedish prosecutor ordered a confiscation of the remaining 150 copies. On March 7, 1996, the trial was held at the Stockholm municipal court. Three weeks later, on March 28, the verdict was announced: By the court's recognition of Bavaria's claims as valid, Hägglund was found guilty of infringing on Adolf Hitler's copyright.

The case was brought to a court of appeal (Svea hovrätt), which on October 13, 1997, upheld the verdict of the Stockholm municipal court. Hägglund was under penalty of a fine of SEK 1,000,000 prohibited from continuing to publish Mein Kampf in Sweden, but was allowed to bring the case before the Swedish supreme court.

Finally, on December 21, 1998, the supreme court delivered its ruling: Bavaria did not own the rights to Adolf Hitler's works in Sweden, and was thus unfit to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit to Hägglund. Bavaria's request for the remaining copies to be destroyed was also denied, and the prohibition against Hägglund continuing to publish Mein Kampf under penalty of a fine of SEK 1,000,000 was removed.

Still, the supreme court found Hägglund guilty of infringing upon a copyright belonging to somebody, irrespective of who that owner was, and thus upheld the ruling of the court of appeal in this respect. Since 1982, according to Article 59 of the Swedish Copyright Act, a public prosecutor may take criminal action against copyright infringement even when there is no complaint from an injured party, if such an action is called for "in the public interest". This is an interesting twist, and it's as of yet unclear what this may mean in other cases of a similar nature.

The case of Bavaria vs. Hägglund (up until 1995, before the first trial) is described in detail by Hägglund's defence attorney, Erik Göthe, in his book Den vanliga vägen (only in Swedish).

Erik Göthe (left) and Karl-Erik Hägglund (right)
Photo by Stefan Lindgren

Updated 1999-01-12
Anders Andersson