The German Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) this week had to decide on the lawfulness of a press report about a book presentation by former news reader, journalist and author Eva Herrman (shown to the left), in particular whether this report was an infringement of Ms Herrman’s general personality right under the German constitution (case reference VI ZR 262/09 of 21 June 2011).
Eva Herrmann used to present the main news show Tagesschau on German television and is a somewhat controversial person with decisive views on various topics. While presenting her book “The Noah’s arc principle - why we have to save the family” (Das Prinzip Arche Noah - warum wir die Familie retten müssen) to journalists in 2007, Ms Herrman elaborated that traditional family values were again needed today, such as those that supported a higher regard for the role of the mother. Unfortunately, these family values had been abolished with the German student movement of 1968. She also referred to the Nazi time and said while most things had been dreadful during and Adolf Hitler had been a “totally crazy and highly dangerous politician”, the regard for families had been one of the very few good things during that time.
The press report in dispute summarised Ms. Herrman’s various musings albeit in an ironic way, inter alia, referring to the fact that she was already married for the fourth time. The report also mentioned her comments on the Third Reich and ended with the words, that "thankfully" the book launch presentation ended after her comments on this topic. Ms Herrman objected to the report. She felt that its tone wrongly alluded that she was a supporter of the Nazi ideology. She further argued that the she was incorrectly quoted, which amounted to an infringement of her general personality right as protected under Articles 1(1) and 2(1) of the German constitution.