Wednesday, October 09, 2002

It was a long time ago now...

So Bertelsmann has finally fessed up that, yes, actually, we did pretty well out of supporting the Nazis. Does it matter that the owners of RCA, Arista and Elvis' contract made their money through publishing Nazi materials, and only got closed down because so strenuous was their support for the Project that the National Socialist's in-house printers were pissed off at the competition?

Their spokesman was on Today after that publication of their confession saying basically - let's draw a line under this now, it's not like we've built our business on this. But that is exactly what they have done - of course, trading in the years 2001-2 hasn't drawn any cash directly from the production of unpleasant material, but the seedcorn that allowed Bertelsmann to turn from a small German publishing company into an international media giant did. And to simply say "Yes, we've checked our records and it turns out, we did make a lot of cash from supporting a regime which gassed Jews, gays, the mentally ill, Romany, Poles and many other members of our current customer groups" and think that makes it alright sends a message to companies now that, if they do find themselves dealing with unacceptable regimes, keeping your head down for a few years until it all blows over is all they need to do.

So, how about this as a proposal: the writers, the musicians, the artists who currently have contracts with Bertelsmann companies could be argued to have signed a deal with the company without knowing the full facts about who they were dealing with. Why not declare these contracts voided, and allow everyone involved to renegotiate with Bertelsmann if they choose, or go elsewhere if they'd rather? Sure, it will end up costing BMG and its sister companies millions. But it really would draw a line under the past, and show that Bertelsmann's remorse is genuine, and not merely a PR spin to cover the clatter of skeletons coming from the closet.

we'd quite like to apologise... [Bertlesmann statement] - it's okay, we like Jews now...

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