Re-translation into English of AAWS approved big book version

 original American book 
"Alcoholics Anonymous"
German edition, 1983, distributed by AA GSO in Munich, approved by AAWS Inc.
Almost literal word by word re-translation back into English for the purpose of comparison
Raw Retranslation by http://babelfish.altavista.com/cgi-bin/translate?
       
Chapter 5 HOW IT WORKS Kapitel 5 Wie es funktioniert Chapter 5 As it functions  Chapter 5 As it functions 
RARELY HAVE WE seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Selten haben wir jemanden gesehen, der gescheitert ist, obwohl er unseren Weg gewissenhaft gegangen war. Seldom have we seen someone, who has failed, although he had conscientiously gone our way.  We saw someone, which failed rare, although it had conscientiously gone our way. 
Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program,  Nicht zur Genesung gelangen diejenigen, die sich nicht ganz in dieses einfache Programm einbringen können oder wollen. To the recovery do not arrive those, who can not or want not bring themselves completely into this simple program.  To the recovery do not arrive those, which can to bring themselves or want not completely into this simple program. 
usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. Meistens sind es Männer und Frauen, die aus ihrer Veranlagung heraus sich selbst gegenüber nicht ehrlich sein können. Mostly they are men and women, who from their assessment cannot be honest to themselves.  There is mostly men and women, who cannot be honest opposite from their assessment. 
There are such unfortunates. Solche Unglücklichen gibt es. There are such unfortunate ones.  There are such unfortunate ones. 
They are not at fault; Es ist nicht ihre Schuld. It is not their fault. It is not their debt. 
they seem to have been born that way. Es scheint, als seien sie so geboren. It seems, as if they are so born.  It seems, as if they are so born. 
They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Sie sind von Natur aus nicht in der Lage, eine Lebensweise anzunehmen und für sich zu entwickeln, die eine absolute Ehrlichkeit verlangt. They are from nature not in a the position to assume and develop for ithemselves a way of life, which requires absolute honesty.  They are from nature not in a the position to assume and develop for itself a way of life, the one absolute honesty required. 
Their chances are less than average. Ihre Genesungschancen liegen unter dem Durchschnitt. Their recovery chances are below the average.  Their recovery chances are below the average. 
There are those, too, who suffer from great emotional and mental disorders,  Darüber hinaus gibt es auch Menschen, die unter ernsten Störungen in ihrem Denken und Fühlen leiden. Beyond that there are also humans, who suffer from serious disturbances in their thinking and feeling.  Beyond that it gives also humans, who suffer from serious disturbances in their thinking and feeling. 
but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. Dennoch genesen viele von ihnen, wenn sie die Fähigkeit haben, ehrlich zu sein. Many of them recover nevertheless, if they have the ability to be honest. Many of them recover nevertheless, if they have the ability to be honest.
Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. Unsere Lebensgeschichten offenbaren, wie wir waren, was geschah und wie wir heute sind. Our life stories reveal, how we were, what occurred and how we today are.  Our life stories reveal, how we were, what occurred and how we today are. 
If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it--then you are ready to take certain steps. Wenn Sie sich darüber klar geworden sind, daß Sie das haben wollen, was wir heute besitzen, und wenn Sie willens sind, den ganzen Weg zu gehen, um es zu bekommen, dann sind Sie auch bereit, dafür gewisse Schritte zu tun. If you realized that you want to have that, what we possess today, and if you are willing to go the whole way in order to get it, then you are also ready to do for it selected steps.
(Though "gewisse" also can mean "certain", this phrase is most commony understood as: It is enough to keep with the whole herd on its way. Do a bit here and a bit there. Go to some length, not to any length.Such effort is not required.)
If you realized that you want to have that, what we possess today, to get and if you are will to go the whole way in order it, then you are also ready to do for it certain steps.

herd

At some of these we balked. Vor manchen Schritten scheuten wir zurück. Before some steps we became shy [and went or turned] back. At some steps we shrank from back. 
We thought we could find an easier, softer way. Wir dachten, wir könnten einen bequemeren Weg finden. We thought, we could find a more comfortable way.  We thought, we could find a more comfortable way. 
But we could not. Aber das ging nicht. But that was impossible.  But did not go. 
With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Ernsthaft und eindringlich bitten wir Sie, von Anfang an furchtlos und gründlich zu sein. Seriously and urgently we ask you to be from the outset fearless and thorough.  Seriously and urgently we ask you to be from thestart fearless and thorough. 
Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. Einige von uns hatten versucht, an alten Vorstellungen festzuhalten: Das Resultat war gleich Null, bis wir kapitulierten. Some of us had tried to hold to old conceptions: The result was equal to zero, until we capitulated.
(One can capitulate after he lost the war, but still cling to his old ideas. The original meaning was diluted by this translation.)
Some of us had tried to hold to old conceptions: The result was directly zero, until we capitulated.
Remember that we deal with alcohol--cunning, baffling, powerful! Denken Sie daran, daß wir es mit Alkohol zu tun haben. Er ist verschlagen, trügerisch, mächtig! Remember that we have to do it with alcohol. It is striking, deceitfully, powerfully!  Remember that we have to do it with alcohol. It is strikes, deceitfully, powerfully! 
Without help it is too much for us. Ohne Hilfe ist es viel zu schwer für uns. Without assistance it is much too heavy for us.  Without assistance it is much too heavy for us. 
But there is One who has all power--that One is God. Aber es gibt einen, der alle Kraft hat - und das ist Gott. But there are one, who has all strength - and that is God.  But there are one, the all strength has - and that is God. 
May you find Him now! Mögen Sie ihn jetzt finden! May you find him now! May you it now find! 
Half measures availed us nothing. Halbe Sachen nützten uns nichts. Half things were not useful to us anyhow.  Half things were not useful to us anything. 
We stood at the turning point. Wir standen am Wendepunkt. We stood at the turning point.  We were at the turning point. 
We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Hingebungsvoll baten wir Ihn um seinen Schutz und seine Hilfe. Devotedly we asked Him for His protection and his assistance.  Devotedly we asked it for its protection and its assistance. 
Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery: Hier sind die Schritte, die wir gegangen sind und die als Programm zur Genesung empfohlen werden. Here are the steps, which we went and which are recommended as program for the recovery.
("Schritte" in German means, that you walk and stay almost on the same level. Moving upwards on stairs, let alone "being rocketed into a 4th dimension" as the big book suggests, hardly comes to a German's mind if he hears "Schritte". The dangerous impression is: You can remain as you are, you can stay on your level. No dramatic change required. Just move slightly.)
Here are the steps, which we went and which are recommended as program for the recovery.
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -- that our lives had become unmanageable. 1. Wir gaben zu, daß wir dem Alkohol gegenüber machtlos sind - und unser Leben nicht mehr meistern konnten. 1. We admitted that we are powerless over alcohol - and our life any longer to master knew. 
(The impression advocated by most German AA members is, according to that version of step one, that they remain powerless forever. Therefore nothing can be done, nothing can be changed forever. To connect with God, who is more powerful than themselves and more powerful than aclohol, to solve their problem and overcome this deadly powerlessness does not appear to the majority.)
1. We addition the fact that we are powerless the alcohol opposite - and our life any longer to master knew. 
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 2. Wir kamen zu dem Glauben, daß eine Macht, größer als wir selbst, uns unsere geistige Gesundheit wiedergeben kann. 2. We came to believe that a power, more largely than we ourselves, can give us back our mental health. 2. We came to the faith that a power, greater than we ourselves, can showing us our mental health.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 3. Wir faßten den Entschluß, unseren Willen und unser Leben der Sorge Gottes - wie wir Ihn verstanden - anzuvertrauen. 3. We seized the resolution, to entrust our will and our life to the concern of God - as we understood Him.  3. We seized the resolution, our will and our life of the concern of God - as we understood it - to entrust. 
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 4. Wir machten eine gründliche und furchtlose Inventur in unserem Inneren. 4. We made a thorough and fearless stocktaking in our inside. [missing word: "moral"] 4. We made a thorough and fearless stocktaking in our inside.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 5. Wir gaben Gott, uns selbst und einem anderen Menschen gegenüber unverhüllt unsere Fehler zu. 5. We admitted to God, to ourselves and opposite of another human our uncovered errors. 5. We gave us God, and opposite another humans uncovered our errors to
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 6. Wir waren völlig bereit, all diese Charakterfehler von Gott beseitigen zu lassen. 6. We were completely ready to let all these character errors be eliminated by God. 6. We were completely ready to let all these character errors of God eliminate.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.  7. Demütig baten wir Ihn, unsere Mängel von uns zu nehmen. 7. Humiliate asked we it to take our lack of us. 7. Humiliate asked we it to take our lack of us.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 8. Wir machten eine Liste aller Personen, denen wir Schaden zugefügt hatten, und wurden willig, ihn bei allen wiedergutzumachen. 8. We made a list of all persons, to whom we had caused damage, and became willing to make restitution to them all. 8. We made a list of all persons, to who we had caused damage, and became willing to good-close it with all again.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 9. Wir machten bei diesen Menschen alles wieder gut - wo immer es möglich war -, es sei denn, wir hätten dadurch sie oder andere verletzt. 9. We made restitution for everything to these humans - whereever it was possible -, except we would have thereby hurt them or others. 
[missing word: "direct"]
9. We made everything again good with this humans - where it was possible always -, it was, we thereby it or others would have hurt. 
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 10. Wir setzten die Inventur bei uns fort, und wenn wir Unrecht hatten, gaben wir es sofort zu. 10. We continued the stocktaking with us, and if we had injustice, we immediately admitted it. 10. We continued the stocktaking with us, and if we had injustice, we gave it immediately to 
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we un derstood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 11. Wir suchten durch Gebet und Besinnung die bewußte Verbindung zu Gott - wie wir Ihn verstanden - zu vertiefen. Wir baten Ihn nur, uns Seinen Willen erkennbar werden zu lassen und uns die Kraft zu geben, ihn auszuführen. 11. We tried to deepen the conscious connection with God - as we understood Him - through prayer and thinking. We asked Him only to let His will become recognizable for us and to give us the strength for executing it.
["Besinnung" also means "meditation", but is widely understood as "thinking" using merely mental resources and having nothiong to do with spiritual practice]
11. We looked the conscious connection up to God by prayer and meditation - as we understood it - to deepen. We asked it only to let and us the strength give us its will become recognizable for executing it.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of theses steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 12. Nachdem wir durch diese Schritte ein seelisches Erwachen erlebt hatten, versuchten wir, diese Botschaft an Alkoholiker weiterzugeben und unser tägliches Leben nach diesen Grundsätzen auszurichten.
(Some printings have "geistiges")
12. After we had experienced a psychological / mental awaking by these steps, we tried to pass this message on to alcoholics and to align our daily life after these principles.
(seelisches = psychological, geistiges = mental or intellectual. 
AA's basic principle of "being transformed by having direct spiritual experiences of God's presence in our new lives" is very much diluted and ommitted here. The English original has "spiritual" or similar 108 times in the first 11 chapters of the book. The AAWS approved German version translated "spiritual" only eight times correctly, because the translators disliked religion. This is one of the main reasons for a 95%plus relapse rate in German AA)
12. After we had experienced mental awaking by these steps, we tried, to pass this message on at alcoholics and to align our daily life after these principles.
Many of us exclaimed, "What an order!  Viele von uns riefen aus: «Was sind das für Vorschriften! Many of us proclaimed: "What regulations! Many of us proclaimed: "Which are for regulations!
I can't go through with it."  Das schaffe ich nie.» I never can do that." I never create that."
Do not be discouraged.  Seien Sie nicht mutlos. Do not be courageless.  You are not courageless.
No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. Keiner von uns war in der Lage, diese Prinzipien auch nur annähernd zu befolgen. None of us was able to obey these principles, not even approximately.
[This suggests: It is impossible anyhow. Do not try it. No one could do it.]
None of us was able to obey these principles also only approximately.
We are not saints. Wir sind keine Heiligen. We are not holy ones. We are not holy ones.
The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. Es kommt darauf an, daß wir willens sind, anhand geistig-seelischer Grundsätze zu wachsen. It depends on the fact that we are willing to grow on the basis of mental-psychological principles. It depends on the fact that we are will to grow on the basis mental-mental principles.
The principles we have set down are guides to progress. Die Prinzipien, die wir aufstellten, sind Empfehlungen, die zum Fortschritt führen. The principles, which we set up, are recommendations, which lead to progress. The principles, which we set up, are recommendations, which lead to progress.
We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. Uns ist innerlicher Fortschritt wichtiger als innerliche Vollkommenheit. Internal progress is more important to us than internal perfection.
(Again spirituality is cast aside.)
Internal progress is more important to us than internal perfection.
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas: Unsere Auffassung vom Alkoholismus, das Kapitel «Wir Agnostiker» und unsere Lebensgeschichten offenbaren drei wesentliche Erkenntnisse:  Our view of the alcoholism, the chapter "We Agnostics" and our life stories reveal three substantial realizations:
(The phenomena of "conversion" is ommitted)
Our view of the alcoholism, the section " we Agnostiker " and our life stories reveal three substantial realizations:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. a)...daß wir Alkoholiker sind und unser Leben nicht mehr meistern konnten; a)... [the fact] that we are alcoholics and could not master our life any longer; a)... the fact that we are alcoholics and any longer could not master our life;
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism. b) ... daß wahrscheinlich keine menschliche Macht uns vom Alkoholismus befreien konnte; b)... that probably no human power could free us from alcoholism; b)... that probably no human power could free us from the alcoholism;
(c) That God could and would if He were sought. c)... daß aber Gott es konnte und es wollte, wenn wir Ihn suchten. c)... that, however, God could do it and wanted [to do] it, if we looked Him up. c)... that however God could do it and it wanted, if we looked it up.
       
    Matthew, Germany, March 14th, 2000 http://babelfish.altavista.com/cgi-bin/translate?
       
      Input was column two

The following is an excerpt of a written recollection, not a transcript from tape.

Thus,  it is not complete or perfect in all details

Topic: recent events concerning the German speaking fellowship of A.A.,
especially concerning the ALANO Club Hamburg and the
AA Big Book Study Group, PO Box 1104, D-61440 Bad Homburg
Date: November7, 1996, about 10:15 a.m. 12:20 p.m.
Meeting Place:  Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Incorporation
 General manager office, George Dorsey
 475 Riverside Drive
 New York, NY10115
 USA

M: With your so-called "long-standing policy," I discovered that it originated in a 1987 change of the second paragraph of the 1955 AA Conference-Charter. To make it the exact opposite of the original meaning, there was a footnote added which says (AA Service Manual, page S26) "In countries where General Service Structure exists, the US/Canada Conference will delegate sole right to publish our Conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of the structure." Thus one AA group or "Conference Section" was placed in (unqualified) authority over another. This is against the very principles of AA.
G: I will not enter any discussion about that. I have no influence on it.

...
M: So if I understand you correctly, you have no influence on other GSOs in the world. And you even don't wish to have any influence?
G: Yes.
M: How comes then that I have a copy of a letter, which you wrote Feb17, 1994 encouraging the Mexican Central AA Office to carry out legal actions?
G: I did not encourage anybody.
M: The AAWS-Incorporation, which you are the director of, has done so. And now the very same phrases appear in the German GSC reports: "That the GSC expresses faith in the special competence of [German] GSO. The GSC grants GSO the right to protect its legal rights and take appropriate actions [i.e. law suits]." In summer this year you visited the AA-GSConference in Poland. And instead to proceed from Frankfurt directly to Poznan, you stopped and went down 300 miles south to Munich. You gave documents to the German GSO to prepare the law suit and made a statement as follows: The distribution "Das Blaue Buch" by the Big Book Study Group jeopardizes "the Integrity of our AA message."
I have it black on white that the Munich GSO people know themselves in perfect accord with you, when they send out threatening letters announcing offence and criminal charge against AA members. It turns out that you encouraged them to break Concept 12, whereafter "a public lawsuit is a public controversy, something in which our Tradition says we may not engage." (Pg.73). It also resulted in anonymity break. The full names of the attacked AA members were presented to the public. Is not Anonymity "the spiritual foundation of all our traditions" anymore? And is it wise to leave this basic foundation in order to follow up and gain money and prestige?
G: The German GSO has the right to prevent any copyright infringements by means of legal action in order to protect the integrity of the message. This is true not only regarding the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions. It applies to all 164 pages of the Big Book.
M: Let me please understand what you think of when you talk about "integrity." Is it about the fear that somebody comes and changes the sense of the AA message as written in the Book? That somebody dilutes it, waters it down, gives the words a new wrong meaning or simply changes it? Perhaps in the manner, as the recent GSC report (page 35) deals with the book "A simple Program," which contains the 11 chapters with changed words [opposite gender]? As I understand you and your attorneys would like to stop this publication somehow if you could. But you can't, because there is no copyright. Is it so?
G: Everybody can write anything ABOUT AA in his own name. I have no objection on this. Manny people already did so. But nobody should write something FROM AA or in the name of AA. Only WE are allowed to do that, because we are the owners of the copyright.
M: May I go into this matter with a small example? Many AA-Groups, Intergroups or area offices here and then issue -- some of them on a regular basis -- newsletters or AA magazines. It is usual to print the Steps and Traditions. Then the suggestion is to include the phrase "Copyright AAWS, Inc. NY - Reprinted with permission." So everybody immediately sees where it comes from. Is that true? Now look, if we do this thing for German readers, then of course it has to be translated  . . .
G: (he interrupts) Yes, it is allowed to reprint the steps and traditions, but only in the precise form and order as acknowledged by AAWS (footnote 4). You must not change a single word. The Munich people are responsible, to watch and warrant that things are kept in line -- as it says in Tradition 9 "they are directly responsible to those they serve" (footnote 5)
M: Thanks for giving me the catchword. In Germany we have a certain procedure for motions and requests which should be followed up. It goes from the group member to the group's chairman [GSRs are rarely available], from him to the AA region, then to the AA Intergroup or to the delegate and from there to GSO in Munich. There is no such thing as "directly responsible" in Germany. Is it not consistent then, to adapt tradition nine to reality and drop the word "directly" in the German translation?
G: No! In no case! It cannot be dropped.
M: But the word "directly" is not so important in Step 9. Couldn't it be omitted there? Or even substituted by "all?"
G: NO! NO! Of course we already had people who tried to change the program to their fashion. For example some years ago there was an interpreter -- I do not say to which country this applies! -- there was an interpreter who knew his language and English pretty well. I mention this to point out that he was aware of what he did. And he translated step nine in the following manner: "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or us." Obviously it must say "injure them ore others!"
That's why all translations have to be sent to AAWS for proof-reading and confirmation. Checking it we soon found out their mistake and insisted that it be corrected before we granted approval. Look how the copyright protects the AA message from falsification or dilution!
M: Well, but doesn't it make sense to eventually drop the word "moral" in step four? It is plain that many alcoholics consider "moral" to be an ugly thing and don't want to make any inventory at all, let alone a moral one. If a newcomer attends a meeting and hears talk about "moral inventory" he might never come back. Wouldn't we be guilty of having destroyed his chance to recover and blocked him off from AA then?
G: (already seemingly upset shouts) Neither you nor anyone else must change anything in the wording of the Steps and Traditions. Never! Never may any word be dropped. It has to be translated as close as possible to the original.
M: I wonder if you have a Munich German Edition of the Big Book here?
J: Yes we have. Why?
M: Can I have it for a moment?
G: (suspicious) What for?
M: I wanted to show you that in this book at the very places we just now discussed the words "directly" and "moral" are missing. There are other mistakes and wrongs as well -- although it was proof-read and confirmed by AAWS,  copyrighted and "conference-approved." The integrity of the AA message is already destroyed. And the aim of Big Book Study Group [BBSG] in Germany is to restore it.
G: (dumbstruck, but recovering after a while ...) We of AAWS have no influence on that. You have to work this out within your German service structure! Don't tell me anything but get in contact with them.
M: Several AA friends tried to do so for years and years. They still write letters to many service entities, and make requests to the GSC and so on. First of all those things are ignored. If not entirely ignored they are submitted to the editorial committee and afterwards ignored there. Anyhow, corrections were neither promised nor done until today. I can refer to all of this in detail and produce documents of evidence if you or AAWS wants to listen.
G: I will not engage in any controversy (footnote 8). I have no opinion on that issue. My friends in GSO Munich do a good job. Additional AA literature is not necessary.
M: Given, the population in North America is around 220 million people, you have approximately four or five million alcoholics here?
G: Yes.
M: Since 1939 you have sold a total of 15 million Big Books and you now sell 800,000 to 1,000,000 a year. Is that true?
G: Yes.
M: Look, we have a German speaking population of about 100 or 120 million people in Europe. They live in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, North Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Poland and Russia. The "German Council against the Danger of Addiction" reports that the average German drinks 11.8 Liters of pure alcohol per person and year -- about twice as much as the Americans (6.8 Liters). We are kind of world champion in drinking. Among professionals they talk about two to six million German alcoholics -- depending on the definition of where the habit ends and the disease begins. In 1978, when AA was 43 years old, you Americans had more than 30,000 groups with an estimated membership more than 600,000. The German fellowship is now 43 years old too. But we have only about 2,000 groups and only about 20,000 members. Within the last decade 4,000 German Big Books were sold a year only. This is 0.4 per cent your distribution! But the need is much higher. You can learn it from the fact that the Big Book Study Group has distributed 22000 Mini Editions within the seven months since April this year.
So how can you say "not necessary" while still 40,000 Germans die each year from their alcoholism? We have about 500 newcomers in AA Germany annually. Heaven alone knows how many of them can stay away from alcohol for a longer period of time than one year. Recovery rate in AA is now estimated to have dropped below 5%. When AA started in America, 50 to 75% of the newcomers in AA recovered -- as the 2nd Edition of the Big Book reports in its Preface. Where has the effectiveness of AA gone? How can you say "they are doing a good job?"
G: I don't want to participate in such a discussion. Moreover, I want to point out that our Munich friends ought not to be offended and slandered by you.

Footnotes
( 4) This is a very dangerous statement. He surely did not make it by chance. How can AAWS approve any piece of AA literature? That's the job of GSC. I always heard and read about conference-approved literature, never about AAWS-approved literature. Is the ultimate authority in AA a loving God, as he may express Himself in the groups' conscience (the group of AA Conference delegates)? Or is our ultimate authority a general manager of "AAWS, Inc."  (respectively in Germany: "Anonyme Alkoholiker Interessengemeinschaft, e.V.")
( 5) So ostentatious, as George pronounces these words, it sounds more as if the GSB Munich were directly responsible to AAWS in New York. But to my understanding Tradition 9 talks about the members of the groups to which the committee or board members should be directly responsible.
...
(8) This, however, changed. Same George Dorsey dropped his mask an revealed his own and his incorporation's real face by endorsing attorneys to bring criminal charge and civil lawsuits against AA group members and non-alcoholics. See power of attoreney signed by "George Dorsey" and his successor "Greg Muth".
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From German AA GSO, Munich, September 13th, 1996

Subject: Your marketing** of copyrighted writings

Dear Burkhard,

We are sending this letter, which is signed by all three directors of our Board, to your group in general. In addition we send a copy --each by separate mail, namely by registered mail-- directly to Marion, Burkhard and Matthias. We are doing this, because we want to be sure that our writings of today will not remain unnoticed.
Your group is --among other things-- distributing AA-literature
I. "Das Blaue Buch" under just this name. Basic for your publication is Bill´s Manuscript in its first form*, which has been translated by you (or by some people that you contracted).
II. The comic "Zu jung?", which includes two publications of AAWS, namely "Too Young?" and "It Happened to Alice!".
III. "Bill´s Story" in three varied translations (11/95 of your irregularly published newsletter "A-A-ktuell").
 You are mailing these writings (and other material, which is not important here) to other AA groups. As we see it, you abusively use addresses taken from the AA directory, which is published by us. Your mailings were not requested by the groups and often not welcomed by the groups. We know that from numerous queries and complaints. You yourselves described in detail your 'success' in distribution of AA literature in your newsletter of July 12th, 1996. We have been told that most recently you were adding a piece of paper to your mail showing your "prices"** and postage expenses.

Your distribution of literature is illegal, as far as the above-mentioned publications are concerned. Especially the AA writings are protected by copyright. Our legal advisors say, there are no serious doubts about the existence of copyright protection. That is true for the Blue Book or parts of it, regardless in which form or in which language it is published. In Germany it is protected for a period of 50 years after the death of Bill i.e. until 2021. Matthias knows all about it, because he communicated about this with AAWS in 1993 and 1994***.
The use of the title 'The Blue Book' does harm to the protection of our society's copyrights as well, which prohibits identical or misleading names.
Your activities are not new. They have been the matter of inquires at the General Service Board several times before. We have visited you, to talk with you about it. However, you have changed nothing. In explicit consent with AAWS we try to make you to listen to reason by this letter for the very last time.
We are not following this up, because we merely have the legal possibility to do so. A mere legal advantage would not be sufficient reason, as our AA-understanding tells us. We do so, because you do harm to AA as a whole and its common purpose. This damage is multiple. On one hand, financial losses to us are emerging from your marketing** of AA literature. The development and growth of the fellowship of AA in all countries was and is dependent upon financial profits from literature sales. Even where the work is no longer protected by copyright, it is not delivered free of charge. You know that. Second, we are and AAWS is constraint to watch that our message is distributed with uniformity. It can't be true that each AA group issues its own version of the Blue Book. George, the general manager of GSO at New York has put it into appropriate words, when he said that you are "destroying the integrity of the message". Third, it is necessary for the distributors of AA literature to be able and willing to help the receivers of that literature in a responsible way and to support them in the best way possible according to our principles. For that reason we have our established fellowship with its developed structure with officers, who dedicated and engaged themselves on various levels of this service structure. But your actions are limited to bulk mailings and spamming with unrequested publications.
Therefore we ask and urge you a last time to immediately stop translation, production and/or distribution of the three above-mentioned publications as well as of all other AA literature that is released without our written permission. If you are willing to do so, we expect you to sign a written commitment which shall be returned to us until
October 11th, 1996.
We attached a draft for that. The commitment has to be signed by Marion, Burkhard and Matthias using full names. For other members first names are enough.
We hope that with this we will get rid of this tiresome matter. If you should not be willing to do so, we will retain a lawyer, who is experienced in this matter and who will then take further actions. That may be criminal prosecution, because infringements of copyright are criminal offenses. In addition we have been told that criminal justice authorities investigate on their own behalf suspected persons if it comes to infringements committed anonymously.
Finally a word about the principle of anonymity: This is laid down in the traditions ten, eleven and twelve. It has, besides other purposes, the reason to protect the individual. However, anonymity is not intended to be a place of refuge for individuals to damage AA as a whole or even commit crimes. In this matter we are in agreement with AAWS. In such cases, names may be given to other persons just like that.
Of course we are prepared to negotiate. But we will not agree about a prolongation of the above-mentioned deadline, because we have tried for years.
Sincerely Yours

(Bodo Dombrowski, 1st chairman; Heinz-Peter Ricken, 2nd chairman; Hans Prussky, manager)

PS: By the way, with the distribution of your publications you are violating press law, too. Printers and publishers have to be stated by full name and address in every publication. We are less interested in this infringement, but we assume that the police as soon as informed will also investigate this matter.

Notes
* [editors note: it was discovered during the AA law suits 1997/99 that the manuscript version referred to here stems neither from Bill Wilson nor was it done in 1938. The manuscript referred to here is the multilith prepublication of Jan/Feb 1939, written by Joe Worth and and edited by non-alcoholic Professor Tom Uzzell. Make sure you see the notarized statement of Dr. Bob's daughter on that fact.]
** [editors note: neither BBSG nor the people accused herein by name sold any of those items, all was given away for free]
***[editors note: on the contrary, the result of this communication was in fact that AAWS is NOT the owner of copyrights on certain parts of AA literature and additionally it was discovered that on the big book was and is no copyright at all]

Attached:
I.  draft of commitment
II.  copy of cover of "The Blue Book"
III.  copy of cover of the comic "Too Young?" (A-A-ktuell 7/96)
IV.  copy of cover of A-A-ktuell 11/95 (content "Bill's Story")

-------------------------------------------------------
Commitment for Liability

Mrs. Marion C. [full name], [full address], Mr. Burkhard C[full name], [full address] and Mr. Matthias M[full name], [full address], as well as all the other members of the Big Book Study Group, Bad Homburg, make a commitment  hereby, namely individually, on Alcoholics Anonymous Interest Group Inc., Ingolstaedter Strasse 68 a, 80939 Munich, as of now, to refrain from

1. Production and/or distribution of the following publications, whose covers are attached as a photocopy,
I.  "The Blue Book", the German translation of the original manuscript of 1938, 256 pages, 1st Edition 1996
II.  the edition 11/95 of A-A-ktuell
III.  The comic booklet "Too young?"
as well as other AA literature, if not explicitly released.
2. The application of the name "The Blue Book" as a title of printed items.

Bad Homburg, ...

................ (to be signed by Marion C.)

................ (to be signed by Burkhard C.)

................ (to be signed by Matthias M.)

................ (to be signed by other members)
 

Update to the situation as of 1999/2000

Click here!