History of the Chowgacha Newspaper

The new "era" begins in 1946

Status: 02/22/2021 00:00

After the end of the war, Germany was still in ruins when the first edition of the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit" appeared on February 21, 1946. Her goal: to always "tell the truth without make-up".

by Irene Altenmüller

"The years that lie behind us have cut off the German reader from the world, shrouded him in the fog of propaganda and weaned him from the harsh language of facts. Today it is important to clear away rubble not only in the streets of bombed cities, but also intellectual ones Burdens of a lost epoch, and that can only happen if we have the courage to speak the truth without makeup. Trust can only grow in an atmosphere of incorruptible truth. "

With these words the editors of the "Zeit" describe in their first edition of February 21, 1946 how they see their task in Germany, which was destroyed by the Second World War. The editors are among the first to help the free press in Germany get back on its feet after twelve years of Nazi dictatorship.

British military government issues the license

On February 15, 1945, Lovis Lorenz received the license document from the British military governor.

According to a trade union paper, "Die Zeit" is the second newspaper to appear in Hamburg after the end of the war. The first edition is only eight pages thick. Just a week earlier, the British military government had granted the four founders - in addition to the later sole owner Gerd Bucerius, the former Hamburg building director Richard Tüngel, the former publishing merchant Ewald Schmidt di Simoni and the art historian Lovis Lorenz - the license to publish. Initially, 25,000 copies will be printed. They are available for a price of 40 pfennigs and are selling extremely well - allegedly less because of the content, but mainly because fish and greengrocers urgently need the paper to wrap their goods.

VIDEO: Hamburg then: "Die Zeit" celebrates its 75th anniversary (5 min)

Flight and Expulsion - Topics of the First Edition

The consequences of the Second World War dominated the first edition of "Zeit" in 1946.

In addition to articles on the first meeting of the United Nations or the new government in Brazil, the authors of the first edition deal primarily with the situation in destroyed Germany. Three quarters of a year after the end of the war, millions of people are homeless and affected by flight and displacement. On the front page, an expressive woodcut catches the eye: a picture of three people - uprooted people, refugees - floating on an ice floe in the sea. Among them is a text that seven and a half decades later has a strangely topical effect:

"15 million people are wandering around Germany or have only found poor shelter, refugees from the bombed-out cities, from the war-ravaged districts, ... expellees from neighboring countries."

AUDIO: Germany's most successful weekly newspaper (15 min)

Hamburg coat of arms gives way to the Bremen key

As early as 1946, the press house at Speersort was the seat of the "Zeit" editorial team. Since the beginning of 2016 it has been called the Helmut Schmidt House.

Every article goes through British censorship in the early days. But not only the British are watching "Die Zeit", but also the Hamburg Senate. He forbids the newspaper to use the Hamburg city arms in the title head as misuse of national emblems. A changed coat of arms with an open city gate also meets with disapproval. From issue 19 to this day, the key from the Bremen city coat of arms adorns the title - with official permission from the city of Bremen.

The British removed the first editor-in-chief, Ernst Samhaber, from his post in August 1946. Not only had he sharply criticized the British occupation policy. It also came to light that he had worked for both Nazi newspapers and the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. Right-wing conservative Richard Tüngel succeeds him as editor-in-chief.

Countess Dönhoff puts "Die Zeit" on a liberal course

Marion Countess Dönhoff in the 1960s. It begins in 1946 with "Zeit" with an initial salary of 600 marks a month.

Marion Countess Dönhoff is the liberal counterweight in the editorial team. It is included from issue 5. "It was a great spiritual awakening after a terrible time of lawlessness", the later editor-in-chief and publisher, who died in 2002, remembers the beginnings in 1996. The aim was to give people an orientation and to create "a really good newspaper" that "could provide arguments and not just any doctrine".

Under editor-in-chief Tüngel, "Die Zeit" continued to drift to the right into the 1950s. When Carl Schmitt, a former Nazi lawyer, had his say in the paper, Countess Dönhoff quit in 1954 and only returned after Tüngel had left the editorial office. Together with Gerd Bucerius, who has been the sole owner of the newspaper from 1957, she puts "Die Zeit" on a liberal course that the weekly newspaper has maintained to this day.

1983: Helmut Schmidt becomes editor

Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt took over the helm at the weekly newspaper in 1983.

In the 1960s, "Die Zeit" criticized the CDU's rigid Ostpolitik and called for rapprochement. Willy Brandt later said that "Die Zeit" had prepared its Ostpolitik in Germany. In 1983 Helmut Schmidt became the new editor after being voted out of office as Federal Chancellor. "When Gerd Bucerius asked me, I was very happy to do it," remembers Schmidt in 2006. He was delighted to be able to do "something completely different, something new" after a long time as a professional politician.

"Die Zeit" remains successful

1986 Theo Sommer, Hilde von Lang, Gerd Bucerius, Countess Dönhoff and Helmut Schmidt (from left) celebrate the 40th birthday of "Zeit".

Many prominent names are associated with "Zeit": In addition to Bucerius, Schmidt and Dönhoff, these include Theo Sommer, Michael Naumann and Giovanni di Lorenzo. Several politicians, scientists and writers have made guest contributions. To this day, despite many changes and adaptations, the weekly newspaper is regarded as the magazine of academics and intellectuals - and thus apparently continues to meet the tastes of readers. While many newspapers have lost circulation with digitization, "Die Zeit" has even been able to increase it slightly in recent years. According to a media analysis, it was more than 530,000 copies in 2020 and, according to estimates, reached around 1.95 million readers.

Special edition for the 75th "Zeit" anniversary

To mark its anniversary, "Die Zeit" is planning a special edition for February 25th, which instead of looking back will be devoted to the big questions about the future.

This topic in the program:

Documentation & report | 02/17/2021 | 9:00 p.m.