Court Orders A.A. Books Destroyed
article is written by nationally recognized historian
and oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell
K., a witness in the German court case, updating a previous
report on this court proceeding.
is good news, and there is bad news...
May 14, 1999 the German courts rejected the claims of
AAeV (the German AA GSO) regarding the free distribution
of a reprint of the 1st 164 pages of the AA book in English,
Finnish, Swedish, Russian and Hebrew. Those books will
continue to be distributed at no charge around the world
-- to those who cannot afford the approximately $45.00
(US funds) a couple of these country's "official"
GSO's are charging for their "authorized" versions.
German GSO, with the approval and help of Alcoholics Anonymous
World Services, Inc. (AAWS) in New York, wanted to fine
the AA member and group a half million German dollars
(over $330,000 US). The German GSO was ordered to pay
all court costs in this case -- one of three which were
to be Destroyed
second case was found in favor of the German GSO. It means
that an individual AA member (one of the only ones named
in the case) must pay all costs relating to the German
translation of the AA book. He has to stop distribution
of the German translation, reveal all distribution and
production details (including the full names of AA members
into public court records). AND turn over all of the remaining
German books over to the german GSO in order for them
to be DESTROYED!
following the directions of the German courts, the individual
fellow AA member will not only be rendered bankrupt, he
will be forced to break the anonymity of many fellow AA
other case is a criminal charge levied against the AA
member that has been postponed until November. If found
guilty in that one, he will be branded a criminal in a
case brought by fellow AA members with the help and consent
of AAWS in New York.
AA member in question will appeal the decision on the
2nd case to a higher court. However, this will also bring
forth the criminal charges.
German GSO had revealed into public court records the
full names and addresses of more than 130 AA members.
That means AA in Germany with the consent and help from
AAWS in New York, violated AA's Tradition on Anonymity
by allowing over 130 names of AA members to be placed
in the public record.
reason that there was a need for a free German translation
was that there were already three different translations
(1962, 1974 and 1983). These translations were NOT accurate
translations, often leaving out the spiritual aspect of
the AA program as well as interpreting the original English
text in a biased manner inconsistent with the intent of
our founding members.
German GSO, again with the approval, help and consent
of AAWS was also asking that the individual fellow AA
member be forever banned from owning, purchasing, or giving
away ANY AA literature. This would have effectively blocked
him from carrying the message of recovery to the still
sick and suffering alcoholic, thus would have removed
him from membership in AA itself.
solidarity with this individual AA member and the over
130 other members named in the court papers and the hundreds
of others whose names will publicly be revealed as the
result of this case, I will plead guilty.
I plead guilty to carrying the message of recovery
to the still sick and suffering alcoholic.
I plead guilty to freely giving of what I have been
I plead guilty to not believing that newcomers should
be forced to pay about ten times more for an AA book
that we pay in the US.
I plead guilty to believing in our Tradition of Anonymity
and not placing AA member's names in the public record.
I plead guilty to believing what it says in the AA
Service Manual under the Concepts that AA WILL NEVER
BE PERSONALLY PUNITIVE towards AA members and that
what we have we must freely give away.
I plead guilty to believing that AA is supposed to
be a spiritual entity, based upon principles of honesty
and not upon money, property and prestige.
I also plead guilty to distributing free books to
the still sick and suffering alcoholic and anyone
else in AA who wishes to recover from a seemingly
hopeless state of mind and body.
is no longer run from the bottom up (the membership),
it is run by a board of trustees bent upon maintaining
an approximate $11,000,000 a year business and feels threatened
by the free distribution of books by stating that this
free distribution violates their so-called intellectual
is not now, nor has it ever been fully self-supporting
through its own contributions. It relies upon the sale
of literature in order to maintain high salaried employees,
large comfortable offices, worldwide travel (paid for
by us) and other amenities. Most of these sales go to
outside enterprises and thus much of AA's income is derived
from outside sources.
all this I plead guilty and am saddened by the turn of
events in Germany. AA will litigate against anyone who
threatens their property, income and prestige or questions
their ultimate perceived authority over AA members. They
are not protecting us from the bad guys, they are protecting
themselves and their employees from the loss of MONEY.
anyone else wishes to plead guilty to carrying the message
of recovery, please contact your delegate, the board of
trustees and other AA members. Their answer of course
will be a terse one. It will state that AA cannot survive
without literature sales and they are protecting intellectual
property. Free books will continue to be distributed in
many languages, even in German if the court so decides
carrying the message of recovery is a crime, EVERY AA
MEMBER IS A CRIMINAL. If this is indeed the case, I am
proud to proclaim it from the rooftops, I am a grateful
criminal, sober by the Grace of God and the Fellowship