Brown book

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Several collections of material were published under the name Braunbuch , which were intended to denounce National Socialist perpetrators or point out fascist tendencies.

Brown Book 1933

Braunbuch was published in August 1933 in exile in Paris. Book design by John Heartfield , 3rd edition without dust jacket.

The first brown book - a publication of the Communist Party in exile - was published in 1933 under the title Brown Book of Reichstag Fire and Hitler Terror in Paris with a foreword by the British Labor politician Lord Marley , first under the title Livre brun sur l'incendie du Reichstag et la terreur hitlérienne, at Éditions du Carrefour in Paris. The publishing house was founded by the German Comintern functionary Willi Münzenberg . It was presented at a press conference on August 1, 1933. The background was the Reichstag fire trial scheduled for September 21 , in which the KPD parliamentary group leader Torgler and the three Bulgarian communists Georgi Dimitrov , Blagoi Popow and Wassil Tanew sat in the dock next to the main defendant van der Lubbe .

The editor was Alexander Abusch with the assistance of Albert Norden , however, Münzenberg was in charge. The basis of the Brown Book was a copy of the secret indictment that Munzenberg's informant Leo Roth had probably obtained from Kurt von Hammerstein's apartment . Munzenberg's colleague Otto Katz alias André Simone took part as an anonymous author . Other employees were u. a. a group of communist writers and journalists such as Alfred Kantorowicz , Gustav Regulator , Arthur Koestler , Max Schroeder and Bruno Frei . The design of the Paris edition was done by John Heartfield . The envelope shows a blood-smeared Goering with the hangman's ax in front of the burning Reichstag . Editions intended for Germany were smuggled into the country disguised as texts of German literature, disguised as reclamation books with the title “Goethe: Hermann und Dorothea” .

Several million copies of the Brown Book were translated into 17 languages ​​and achieved a great propaganda effect.

After the end of the trial in 1934, a continuation of the book was published under the name Dimitrov contra Göring: Braunbuch II . This book, too, has been translated into the most important languages ​​and caused a sensation.

Brown book about war and Nazi criminals in high positions in the Federal Republic and in West Berlin

Braunbuch , publication of the GDR (1965)

Since 1955, the GDR has been deliberately issuing incriminating material about individual prosecutors, judges and high officials in the rival state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Their activities in the Third Reich and often some embarrassing addresses of devotion only became known to the public through this. Revelations on the part of the GDR led to the resignation of high officials and federal ministers, such as the Federal Public Prosecutor Wolfgang Fränkel and the Minister for Displaced Persons, Hans Krüger .

In 1963 the Supreme Court of the GDR sentenced Hans Globke, the head of the Federal Chancellery, known as the Gray Eminence of Federal Chancellor Adenauer, to life imprisonment in absentia for his involvement in the Nuremberg race laws in the Globke trial . After Adenauer's resignation that same year in the course of the Spiegel affair , Globke was no longer appointed to any political office. After his subsequent wish to move, Switzerland declared him an “undesirable foreigner”.

On July 2, 1965, the head of the commission for the processing of war and Nazi crimes , SED politician and author Albert Norden presented the world press with a brown book entitled Brown Book: War and Nazi Criminals in the Federal Republic. State, economy, army, administration, justice, science. , published by the National Council of the National Front of Democratic Germany [and the] Documentation Center of the State Archives Administration of the GDR. It listed the SS ranks and Nazi party offices of 1,800 business leaders, politicians and leading officials in the Federal Republic of Germany . Some of the information was also supported by facsimiles of incriminating documents.

The book was largely rejected by the rulers of the Federal Republic as a “communist propaganda work”, and another edition was confiscated at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1967, causing a scandal. The federal government stated that the allegations made did not apply. For the time being, the publication had hardly any consequences for the accused; rather, they "helped the accused rather than harming them in the anti-communist climate of the Cold War ."

Subsequent independent research then showed that most of the information - apart from several name mix-ups - was correct.

A third edition appeared in the summer of 1968. It was reprinted in 2002 and published in full on the Internet. In a review from 2002, the historian Götz Aly described the book as “propaganda”, but emphasized that the error rate for the information was well below one percent. According to the historian Richard J. Evans , who is a specialist in the history of the Third Reich, and the Independent Commission of Historians - Foreign Office , the information in the Brown Book on the “Nazi burden of leading West German diplomats” in the 1950s “largely applies ".

Brown book about former National Socialists in high positions in the GDR

In return, similar publications appeared in West Berlin and the Federal Republic that addressed the National Socialist past of state and party officials in the GDR. In 1958, the investigative committee of Freedom Lawyers published a list of 75 former NSDAP members for the first time under the title Former National Socialists in Pankow's Services . By 1965, five expanded editions were published. The researchers apparently had access to the US-administered Berlin Document Center and informants in the GDR. In 1981 Olaf Kappelt published the GDR Brown Book. Nazis in the GDR before. It contained 876 names. In 2009, Kappelt published an edited new edition of his work with information on over a thousand Nazi-polluted people who were able to gain a foothold in socially influential positions in the GDR. In summary, the long-time SED Politburo member Günter Schabowski wrote in the foreword : “A Nazi who was allowed to mutate into a socialist, or more precisely into a communist, was totally and forever denazified. He was like newborn. But anyone who reformed West German democracy remained a Nazi. "

Brown books

  • Brown book about the Reichstag fire and Hitler terror . First published under the title Livre Brun sur l'incendie du Reichstag et le terreur hitlerìenne . With a foreword by Lord Marley, an influential Labor politician. Edition Carrefour Paris 1933. At the same time, editions in German were published by the Universum library in Basel and translations into the world's most important languages. Digitized
  • Brown book 2: Dimitrov contra Goering - revelations about the real arsonists . Editions du carrefour, Paris 1934. Reprint Cologne 1981 ISBN 3-7609-0552-8 .
  • National Council of the National Front of Democratic Germany. Documentation Center of the State Archives Administration of the GDR (Ed.): "Braunbuch". War and Nazi criminals in the Federal Republic and West Berlin. State, economy, administration, army, justice, science . State publishing house of the German Democratic Republic, Berlin 1965. Last (3rd) edition in the GDR 1968, several reprints. Full text. Last
Norbert Podewin (Ed.), Reprint edition ost, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-360-01033-7 or Edition Berolina, Berlin 2012.

See also


  • Anson Rabinbach : Brown Book. In: Dan Diner (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture (EJGK). Volume 1: A-Cl. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2011, ISBN 978-3-476-02501-2 , pp. 402-407 (deals with the Brown Books 1933/34).
  • Olaf Kappelt : Denazification in the Soviet Zone and the role and influence of former National Socialists in the GDR as a sociological phenomenon . Kovač, Hamburg 1997. ISBN 3-86064-614-1 (= Studies on Contemporary History , Volume 13, also dissertation at the University of Würzburg 1997).
  • Hubertus Knabe : The infiltrated republic. Stasi in the west. Ullstein, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-548-36284-2 , pp. 140-143 (“Lübke affair”).
  • Henry Leide: Nazi Criminal and State Security. The secret past politics of the GDR . 3rd, revised edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-525-35018-8 (= BStU analyzes and documents. Volume 28).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Willi Munzenberg. Tabular curriculum vitae in the LeMO ( DHM and HdG )
  2. Braunbuch II: Dimitrov contra Goering - Revelations about the real arsonists . Editions du carrefour, Paris 1934 (Reprint Cologne and Frankfurt / Main 1981, ISBN 3-7609-0552-8 ).
  3. Eckart Conze , Norbert Frei , Peter Hayes, Moshe Zimmermann : The office and the past. German diplomats in the Third Reich and in the Federal Republic . Karl Blessing Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-89667-430-2 , p. 18.
  4. Full text of the 3rd edition ( Memento from November 19, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) (accessed on November 22, 2014).
  5. ^ Richard J. Evans: The German Foreign Office and the Nazi Past. Review of: The Office . In: Neue Politische Literatur , 56, 2011, p. 171.
  6. Eckart Conze, Norbert Frei, Peter Hayes, Moshe Zimmermann: The office and the past . German diplomats in the Third Reich and in the Federal Republic . Munich 2010, p. 18.
  7. ^ Olaf Kappelt: Brown Book GDR. Nazis in the GDR . Reichmann Verlag, Berlin 1981. ISBN 3-923137-00-1 .
  8. ^ Armin Fuhrer : SED. The big mother of the little Nazis . Focus , May 8, 2010.
  9. Brown traces in the "anti-fascist" state . Der Tagesspiegel , June 15, 2009.