Licensing of German Newspapers by the ICD

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On 14 July 1945, the overt or official press in US-occupied Germany became the responsibility of the ICD and no attempt was made to hide the fact that the US Military Government was controlling the radio and newspapers in their zone. This was completely in keeping with the psychological, sociological and anthropological studies undertaken before the end of the war. Expert opinion, as discussed more fully in chapter one, held that the German mind understood only the direct approach and a more nuanced approach would lead to the ICD officials needing to explain their actions. This was considered undesirable in that it gave the Germans an opportunity to argue the correctness of the actions being taken by the Military Government and thus undermined its authority. This was simply the carrying-forward of the Psychological Warfare Division’s policy in regard to dealing with the Germans they now governed. The official policy was that they were going to control German thought and expression in all media and make no excuses about it. This position was mitigated to some extent by the Potsdam Agreement, which exposes a fundamental contradiction of ICD policy regarding freedom of expression, which is far more nebulous in the Potsdam document.

In the initial two months of its operation, the ICD was the only agency allowed to grant newspaper licenses to applicants recommended by the DISCC.  This was, however, a temporary measure and the process was soon decentralized with licensing authority delegated to the commanders of the Military Districts on September 11, 1945. The ICD Director, nonetheless, reserved the right to select the cities in which newspapers were to be licensed.

Within two months of Germany’s surrender, eight overt newspapers were being published by the ICD: Augsburger Anzeiger in Augsburg, Bayrischer Tag in Bamberg, Weser Bote in Bremen, Frankfurter Presse in Frankfurt, Süddeutsche Mitteilungen in Heidelberg, Hessische Post in Kassel, Münchener Zeitung in Munich, and the Regensburger Post in Straubing. They had a combined circulation of 3,139,500 copies at their peak.  Two further overt publications, the Allgemeine Zeitung in Berlin, published three times weekly, alternating with the British Der Berliner, and the Stuttgarter Stimme were added in August 1945.

By late September 1945,  only five official newspapers remained: Augsburg, Bamberg, Berlin, Munich and Straubing. ICD policy was that the overt newspapers cease publication when licensed German newspapers appeared in the areas they served.  So it was that by mid-November the rest of the official newspapers ceased publication, with the exception of Die Neue Zeitung, which had been established in October 1945 as the official voice of the Military Government for the entire zone.

Of the overt newspapers, the Allgemeine Zeitung in Berlin had the largest circulation at 600,000 copies.  The Bayrischer Tag in Bamberg and the Münchener Zeitung in Munich, were not far behind.  Originally, ICD officers edited all of the overt newspapers from Bad Nauheim. As news copy was written and assembled there, it was delivered to the larger German cities under U.S. and British control, where printing and distribution took place.  In the beginning, the newspapers were free, but this gradually changed to a paid system. The overt papers were only four or six pages and distributed on a weekly basis. At their high point, the combined overt press reached a paid circulation of almost eight million copies.

The first experiment in publication control was undertaken in the first city captured by the Western Allies.[1] In the city of Aachen the PWD established Heinrich Hollands, who was a 68-year-old former composing room foreman, “who admittedly had no editorial experience” and whose only apparent qualification was that “[he had] retired soon after Hitler came to power,”[2] as the first licensed publisher in what was not yet postwar Germany. According to Time magazine,

“He gave up his job as foreman of an Aachen newspaper composing room, and retired on a small pension rather than serve the Nazis. U.S. Psychological Warfare officers found him, when they went looking for a German to help them print a four-page weekly, the Aachner Nachrichten. Soon he was doing some of the editing; Army officers found it was easier to make an editor out of the printer than to make non-Nazis out of the available German editors.”[3]

With this experiment the ICD did learn that they needed to separate news from opinion and editorial. Previously, German newspapers had mixed the two in a manner that interpreted the facts for the reader. The PWD and then the ICD wanted to model the new German media along the lines of that found in the United States, where opinion and editorial pages were clearly designated.

In August 1945 there were 10 of these overt publications in the US zone.[4] However, by September 1945 this number had dropped to five and by mid-November there was only one. The use of the term “overt” implies that there must have been such a thing as a “covert” newspaper. One might suggest that the use of this term is simply a slip of the tongue, if it were to appear only once or twice in documents produced by the ICD. This, however, is not the case. The term “covert” is consistently used as a description of the newspapers not directly published by the ICD and the Military Government. Moreover, there does not appear to be any evidence that the ICD published newspapers that could truly be identified as covert. That is to say, they did not publish a newspaper and then try to hide the fact that they were in control of its news and editorial content. Rather, covert refers to a licensed newspaper run and owned by Germans, since no other newspapers were published in the American sector; they were either overt or German press.

But, what is one to make of the term covert, if the terms “German” and “covert” are the only terms used in the ICD files and those files clearly indicate that “overt” is synonymous with “American”? Then one can come to the logical conclusion that “covert” would be the counterpart of “German.” If German newspapers were considered covert, then, the ICD must in some way have controlled the content of the news and the opinions expressed by the German editors.

Content control of the German media was accomplished through a three-pronged approach. The first was the rather blunt instrument of rescinding the licenses of individuals involved in publishing newspapers, magazines, journals, books, and radio broadcasting, and/or criminally charging them under Military Government Law 191. Though this was done, it would not have ensured that the material they wanted published actually appeared and even then it would have undermined the “covert” nature of the news that appeared. It would, however, have had a chilling effect on the other publishers and ensured future compliance. For the most desirable effect, the techniques employed would have needed to be more nuanced and appear detached from the day-to-day administration of any given media outlet.

The ICD counted on the new licensees wanting to accumulate money and influence in postwar Germany, which ensured that those chosen to run Germany’s new media remained in line with rules established by the ICD. As Bark and Gress point out, once a publisher had a license from the ICD, or its British equivalent, and once they had paper on which to print, newspapers, journals, and books were a seller’s market, even though newsprint was rationed,[5] which was simply a restating of Ziemke’s earlier assessment of the situation.[6]

Elizabeth Janik suggests “American information officers did not engage in censorship.”[7] This may be true, but only using the narrowest of definitions of what censorship might be. The ICD officers may not have gone through every word on every page that was published in their zone of control and then taken out that which offended the policies of the occupation forces. This is but one very blunt instrument that may be used when engaging in what may more broadly be defined as censorship.

There is evidence that the Allies carefully studied the Nazi approach to “censorship” in the Reich. They then used what they had learned in the postwar as an effective means of controlling the German publishing industry. A secret document produced by the British CSDIC, based on interviews with the POWs Lieutenant. Wolfgang Brandstetter, former manager of the Tauchnitz publishing firm in Leipzig, and Lieutenant Heinz Schroeder, son of the owner of a Berlin printing firm, provided vital insights into how censorship in Germany functioned. While the report is filled with many fascinating details, its most interesting feature is the description of censorship in Germany 1933-1939 as having a “Sword of Damocles” quality, in that there was no censorship of works of fiction, and that publishers were allowed to publish what they wished.[8] It is only afterward, that a publisher might be declared politically unreliable. This would have led to financial ruin. This is effectively the same strategy employed by the ICD in the final phase of its licensing of German publishers. The effect was that publishers were very mindful of what they published, seldom considering works that they were not certain would pass muster with the ICD.

Post-censorship was perhaps more desirable than pre-censorship for the Military Government in that it always allowed the ICD deniability should difficulties arise. Moreover, it was the most effective approach to conditioning German publishers into acting in ways that would assure long term compliance with the policies of the ICD, even after the ICD had been disbanded. Practices and approaches to issues would become policy in German publishing houses and then simply the usual way of doing business. These practices would take on inertia all their own, making them almost immovable in the foreseeable future. Choosing the “right” material to publish would be a reflex.

Though it may not properly fit under the rubric of censorship, food was used as a means of keeping those in publishing, the news media, radio, and film in line with official ICD policy. People working in those industries were declared essential workers by the ICD. This meant that they received double rations and were allowed to eat in the military commissaries.[9] The ICD even took steps to have German media personnel declared Military Government employees during the noon meal period so that they could partake in the noonday meal at the Military Government’s expense. This was not just for those who worked on the periphery of the ICD itself, but those who worked for private concerns and were simply licensees of the ICD. This ensured their compliance when it came to matters concerning what the ICD would like to see brought before the German people. It encouraged a self-censorship that was born out of self-interest, because no one receiving double rations in addition to free meals was going act in a way that would jeopardize this arrangement. It achieved a further goal. Since it was self-censorship it was not necessary to engage in overt censorship that would tend to undermine the message they were trying to convey.

The first license granted to a German newspaper publisher after the war was for the Frankfurter Rundschau, which was issued on August 1, 1945.[10] General McClure personally presented the license to the seven licensees; Emil Carlebach, Hans Etzkorn, Wilhelm Karl Gerst, Otto Grossmann, Wilhelm Knothe, Paul Rodemann, and Arno Rudert.

Carlebach was a Communist of Jewish ancestry. He had survived continuous imprisonment since early 1934. In May of 1933 he was arrested for distributing illegal literature, but released after six weeks. He did not give up on his work and was rearrested and sentenced to three years imprisonment. Immediately thereafter he was sent to Dachau for 18 months, and then transferred to Buchenwald, where he spent six and a half years until his liberation by the Allies.

Carlebach was the least experienced of the group and had never been a part of the staff of a regular newspaper. However, he had started to write at the age of 16 and had contributed articles to the radically democratic Dortmunder General Anzeiger. In addition, the ICD considered it important that he had had experience preparing illegal pamphlets before his arrest in 1933. The reasons for his recommendation were that they hoped he would bring a more youthful perspective to the paper, since he was considerably younger than the other licensees and had not been an official member of any political party as far as the ICD could determine, though they knew of his activities with what they called the Youth League for Human Rights. Moreover, they considered the upbringing he had received from his father, which the ICD described as being along the lines of the old Frankfurter Zeitung, to have made him an ideal candidate as a publisher.

The time Carlebach had spent as a concentration camp inmate had brought out his leadership potential as far as the ICD investigators were concerned, at least initially. They were also surprised at his physical and mental condition considering how long he had been a concentration camp inmate. This may have been his undoing in the end. In 1947, apparently without warning, his license was revoked by OMGUS. While it may have been related to his ties to the Communist party in the postwar period, it may also have been related to the fact that he had not been truthful on his Fragebogen. The ICD report indicates that he had not been a member of any political party, just active in the Youth League for Human Rights, it is now known that he had joined the Young Communist League of Germany (Kommunistischen Jugendverband Deutschlands) in 1932. Moreover, Colonel Toombs, who had written the introduction to the controversial report on the activities of inmate groups in German concentration camps, was gaining greater influence in decisions regarding press licenses in US occupied Germany.

Hans Etzkorn had worked for the SPD publishing house Phoenix GmbH from 1924-1933. There he had been the editor of Volk und Zeit and the Sunday magazine section of Vorwärts and other newspapers. He was a specialist in creating and editing illustrated features.

The ICD described Etzkorn as not being a party man, but rather a cultured person of broad socialist convictions. Though he was not involved in party politics at the time, they did see his socialist leanings coming through in his work in theater, film, radio, and music.

Etzkorn had not been allowed to work in the press since 1933 and had sold advertising in order to earn a living. He had been picked up by the Gestapo a number of times, but had never been held. For this reason they concluded that he had not really suffered under the Nazi regime. Even so, they saw him as an important addition to the group, because apparently they were well satisfied how he had expressed himself in regard to his understanding of democracy and the virtue of cooperation.

Though he did not make a strong initial impression, longer acquaintance with him allowed the ICD to see his better qualities. What else was important was that he had a clean professional and political record. They also did not question his sincerity as a democrat, being convinced that he espoused these views due to conviction and not expedience.

Another asset that he brought to the group was his background in cultural topics. The ICD already thought they had enough individuals who would stress political issues in the paper and needed someone who would ensure that the reporting in the paper was well rounded.

Wilhelm Gerst was an active Catholic. He had been the chief editor of the Hildesheimische Zeitung from 1911. Already during the First World War he had opposed what the ICD called Prussian militarism, a point that worked in Gerst’s favor. At the time other Catholic newspapers had vigorously attacked him.

Gerst’s interests were broad and he not only wrote books, but organized film and theater projects. In addition, he was interested in the international aspects of film and aided in the dubbing of non-German language films, with the ICD noting that some of them having even been Russian.

In Gerst’s case the ICD was very interested in his earnings during the Nazi regime, because this was one of the criteria they turned to in borderline cases. For this to turn up in his files indicates that they were not entirely sure of him, even at this early stage. It may also have been a case of the ICD simply getting as much information as possible so that they could defend his inclusion, should questions arise.

In the three years immediately before the Nazis came to power, Gerst had earned 240,000 RM per year. In 1933, he had been offered a plum job in theater by none other than Goebbels himself, which he turned down. Instead he founded St. Georg Verlag, which published liberal Catholic books. In 1934 his income dropped to 100,000 RM and from there is precipitously fell to around 6000 RM per annum for the years 1935 to 1944. All of this proved to the ICD that Gerst had not worked with the Nazis.

ICD investigators considered Gerst to be a progressive centrist, who had been active in Catholic youth work since before WWI. In addition, they considered it as positive that he had been a member of every Catholic anti-Nazi organization. They also thought him to be a youthful and vigorous 57-year-old and an outstanding organizer with a wide knowledge base in cultural areas. Though he was a Catholic, the ICD noted that he worked well with other denominations and saw him as an ecumenical unifying factor in a country known for its religious schisms.

The Nazis had always suspected him of working counter to their political outlook and the Gestapo eventually arrested him in October 1944. He had received an 18-month sentence when the American forces found him in a Darmstadt jail.

At the end of October 1946 Gerst was removed as a licensee due to suspected association with the Nazi Party in 1933-1934, as revealed during a the Spruchkammer hearing. There was a flurry of memos exchanged by the various units within the ICD, with it becoming clear that there were not only some Germans, most of whom had been member of the Nazi Party, or other very conservative group, but there were some American officials who wanted him removed as a licensee.[11] The problem was that they could not really find fault with him and the license was removed on the slimmest of pretexts; he had been forced to publish one or two books by Nazi authors in 1933 and in order to get out of the dilemma had sold his publishing house in December of 1933. What is clear is that, according to Kinard, they were concerned that they would not be able to defend their actions before General Clay, General McClure, or the court of public opinion.

What was not mentioned was that there were some in the ICD, not identified in the memos, who had a problem with the way Gerst ran the physical plant of the paper, which had nothing to do with politics. Apparently, he ran a very tight organization and behaved in a very authoritarian manner in regard to his employees. Eggleston, however, suggested that Gerst did not behave any differently than any good managing editor at any newspaper would and even cites Hans Habe and Hans Wallenberg of the overt US paper as behaving in a similar fashion. In the end, Davison perhaps sums it up best by suggesting that Gerst had simply made too many personal enemies, because he had behaved in an undiplomatic way.

Otto Grossmann had little experience on the content side of newspaper production, having worked for a short time on the Arbeiterzeitung before 1933. However, he was an expert on photography and newspaper layout and had worked closely with democratic youth organizations. This is where the ICD thought he would make his contribution to the Rundschau.

Grossmann had been a member of the workers youth movement since he was 14 years old and its President at 16. The ICD considered him to be an Independent SPD and a member of the KPD in his youth. They did note that he had left the party in 1926 due to the internal party strife of the time. He did remain a supporter of unions and was imprisoned in 1934 for distributing the illegal anti-Nazi Brown Book. At 45, he was considered youthful and vigorous. After his time in prison he worked for the Georg Stritt firm, which did engraving and printing. At the time of his licensing he put this experience to good purpose and was involved in getting the printing plant in Frankfurt up and running.

Though he wavered between supporting the SPD and KPD, he was leaning towards the KPD in the summer of 1945.[12] In the end, he was one too many Communists for the paper and was eventually given his own license for the sports newspaper Neuer Sport.

Knothe had been an active member of the SPD since 1906 and was imprisoned a number of times during the Nazi period in Germany. He had contributed to: Berlin’s Vorwärts, the Kassler Volksblatt, the Offenbacher Abendblatt, the Frankfurter Zeitung, and the Frankfurter Nachrichten. He was responsible for the political management of the new paper.

From 1934 to 1937 he had been in and out of various jails and in 1938 found himself working for various merchants in Frankfurt. He remained an active anti-Nazi and eventually was jailed again in August 1944, but escaped in September of the same year and hid in Frankfurt until the end of the war. The ICD recommended him, because of his solid anti-militarist, anti-Nazi beliefs and his internationalist worldview.

Knothe resigned his license on March 1, 1946 in order to devote himself to politics.

Paul Rodemann had worked for a number of social democratic newspapers prior to the beginning of WWI, beginning his career at the Hamburg-Harburg Volksblatt in 1911. He later became the political editor of the Freies Wort in Schwerin. In 1919 he was elected as a representative to the Weimar National Assembly. Due to his political engagement, he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned and then sent to a concentration camp. After his release, he remained under Gestapo observation and was forbidden to work as a journalist. Rudert was one of the Communists grant the license for the paper. He went along with what has been termed Zuckerbrot und Peitsche (crrot and stick) approach of the ICD and managed to retain his license. He was thrown out of the Communist Party for acquiescing to the wishes of the American occupation forces.

Arno Rudert had been one of the members of the editorial staff on Frankfurt’s KPD Arbeiterzeitung from 1924 to 1933 and chief editor for the last six years. The ICD noted that he was the only chief editor in Frankfurt who was both available and politically acceptable.

He had been one of the early organizers of the KPD in the Vogtland and had helped organize the party in Oelsnitz. He was arrested in February of 1933 and held for 2 weeks. Later that year he was almost beaten to death by some SS men. He had a further strike against himself in Nazi Germany in that he was married to a Jewish woman. Eventually, all of their family and friends would become victims of the Nazi regime.

ICD investigators describe Rudert as quiet, presentable, intelligent, and filled with a desire to work with anyone wanting to get rid of the Nazis. He was another one of those found by the Americans in a Nazi work camp, this one being in Clausthal. However, he had not been sent there for the usual political reasons, though remaining with a non-Aryan wife could certainly be considered a political statement in Germany at that time.

Though he had been left badly shaken by his experiences, the ICD noted that he appeared to be recovering quickly and demonstrating leadership and organizational qualities that the Rundschau needed.

The Frankfurter Rundschau was authorized for twice weekly publication (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and had an official circulation of 400,000.  This size of the print run allowed the Frankfurt paper to cover most of Hessen. For the first edition, the Military Government provided some of the copy. One of those articles announced that the appearance of the Frankfurter Rundschau “was a clear indication of the collective rehabilitation of the city of Frankfurt am Main.”[13]

The licensees of the Rundschau had to overcome many obstacles in order to get its first edition into the hands of its readers. Its first physical plant was the basement of the bomb-damaged building that had accommodated the Frankfurter Zeitung, whose contributors had read like a “who’s who” of German literature, philosophy, and the liberal left. The first edition was four pages in length with five columns of news to the page. Of interest is the fact that it immediately began covering international events. While it did carry a brief statement from the Military Government of Hessen, its lead story was on the British general elections and the Labour Party’s victory. In addition, it reported on the ratification of the United Nations charter by the U.S. Senate, with pictures of President Truman and British Prime Minister Attlee on the front page.

Soon after this, other newspapers in the U.S. Zone were licensed. The Rhein-Neckar Zeitung was licensed in Heidelberg on 5 September. Along with Theodor Heuss, who was a member of the Demokratische Volkspartei and then the Freie Demokratische Partei, Rudolf Agricola, a leader within the KPD in Württemberg-Baden, and Hermann Knorr, who was a member of the SPD and their top candidate in the November 1946 Land elections, were licensed. Considerable work must have been done prior to this, since it appeared the next day with a print run of 200,000 copies. It had a broad circulation, being available in Darmstadt, Mannheim, Dieburg, Schwetzingen, Mosbach, and Hockenheim.  The first issue demonstrated that it would, in the words of the ICD, “become a strong instrument for democracy in Germany.”[14]  On the front page Theodore Huess “described the moral disintegration of the German press under the Nazis, and hailed the opportunity to restore the people's faith in a free press.”[15]

It is also notable that many of those identified and licensed by the ICD went on to distinguished political careers. For example, one of the three initial licensees of the Rhein-Neckar Zeitung (RNZ), Theodor Heuss, became postwar Germany's first President.[16] He had been politically active and had worked as a newspaper editor in Weimar Germany. The first issue of the new newspaper made a point of speaking out about the disintegration of the free press under the Nazis. It is truly ironic that Heuss had voted for the enabling act of 1933, which gave Hitler his dictatorial powers.[17] During the Nazi regime, Heuss continued to write for the few remaining liberal papers in Germany, but was eventually blacklisted by the Propaganda Ministry. He did continue to write under a number of pseudonyms and was even published in the National Socialist weekly Das Reich. Becoming President of the Federal Republic of Germany meant that he had to divest himself of his interest in the newspaper, which allowed Hermann Knorr to gain control of the RNZ, an example of the compromises the ICD was willing to make in order to get German newspapers up and running.

Nine days later the Marburger Presse, the third ICD licensed newspaper in Germany, began appearing on newsstands on a twice weekly basis.  This was followed on September 16 with the licensing of the Stuttgarter Zeitung with an ambitious circulation of 400,000. The circulation numbers were not allocated in an arbitrary fashion.  Rather, the ICD estimated that they would need one copy for each five residents in the area served by the newspaper.

On September 15 the ICD did something unusual in that it licensed a single publisher, Hans Hackmack, to publish the Weser Kurier in Bremen twice weekly with a circulation of 125,000 copies. Hackmack had been a member of the SPD before the Nazi regime and had been imprisoned on and off from 1933-1945 for his anti-Nazi activities. In 1945 he was still a member of the Kampfgemeinschaft gegen den Faschismus (Anti-Fascist Action Group), but left when it became apparent that the Communists were taking over its leadership. The sole proprietorship did not last long, as Bernhard Peters, who was a Communist, joined him shortly after its inception. Peters was not to remain with the paper for very long and it is not clear whether he was forced out. Felix von Eckhardt, who was not a member of a political party, but did support the CDU, replaced him. This was the first license to be issued outside the contiguous U.S. Zone. This was quickly followed on September 27 by the licensing of Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, a daily paper that quickly became the object of attacks from the Soviet-controlled publications in the east.

A further paper to begin publishing in September was the Hessische Nachrichten in Kassel. On September 26 five co-publishers were licensed: Wolfgang Bartels (SPD), Fritz Schmidt (KPD), August Heinrich Berning (unaffiliated), Gustav Römer (LDP [Liberaldemokratische Partei] leaning non-member) und Dr. Wolfgang Poeschl (CDU leaning non-member) to publish a newspaper on Wednesdays and Saturdays with an initial circulation of 220,000 copies.

No sooner had the Hessische Nachrichten started publishing, when on October 1 the Wiesbadener Kurier was granted a license as well and was authorized to produce 90,000 copies. The original licensees were Georg Meyer (Centrist leaning) and Fritz Ulm (SPD leaning non-member). In this case the ICD denied a license to Gustav Schellenberg, the former publisher of the Wiesbadener Tagblatt,  whose family had owned the weekly paper since its inception in the 1840s. Not only that, but the ICD confiscated his printing plant and offices and turned them over to the new licensees. The Tagblatt was, however, not finished. When the licensing of newspapers was ended under Konrad Adenauer in 1949, Schellenberg restarted the paper, sharing offices and a printing plant with the Kurier.

While the ICD was very active in licensing newspapers in Hessen, the process was a little slower in Bavaria. The first license granted in Bavaria was presented by Colonel B.B. McMahon, Commanding Officer of the 6870th DISCC, to August Schwingenstein (CSU), Edmund Goldschagg (SPD), and Franz Josef Schöningh (Bayerischer Bauernbund)32 authorizing them to publish the Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich as of October. Considering the area that was to be covered by the paper, it is not surprising that its circulation was set at 410,000 copies.

            The first edition of the paper is informative in that it gives a good impression of how OMGUS was able to project its power through the fledgling German media. After a brief mission statement, in which the paper dedicates itself to being the voice of the people and not of a particular brand of politics, it announces the appointment of Wilhelm Högner to the task of forming a new government in Bavaria. In supporting stories, also carried on the front page, it describes Eisenhower as a man of action, who is replacing Patton as Governor of Bavaria in order to bring political stability to the region. Also telling is a front-page story written by Goldschagg that emphasizes that Germany has suffered a complete political collapse for the second time within the lifetime of a generation.

October was a very busy month for the ICD in terms of licensing newspapers. On October 8 the Hochland Bote was licensed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with a circulation of 20,000 and on October 11 the Nürnberger Nachrichten at 50,000 copies. The following day, two publishers were licensed to publish the Hof Frankenpost and on October 23 Karl Esser was licensed to publish the Mittelbayerische Zeitung in Regensburg, following the example of the Bremen paper, only in this case no additional licensees were added to the paper. This is particularly odd, considering the paper had an initial circulation of 200,000. This may simply be an example of the ICD having difficulty finding suitable candidates and thus having to ignore their own internal policies. This thesis may be difficult to support since it is hard to believe that of the 93 applicants for the license in Regensburg he was the only suitable candidate. A more reasonable explanation might be that Esser was a bit of a rarity in that he was a member of the SPD and had survived numerous imprisonments, even spending time in Dachau. Most likely, Esser gave a very good impression to the ICD in terms of his commitment to democracy; the only way they would have accepted him as a sole publisher.

Esser did not disappoint them. In the very first edition, the lead story presented the crimes committed by the Nazis to its readership. An additional story on the front page discussed the second defeat of Germany’s “military-caste,” an article that fully supported the ICD’s emphasis on eradicating militarism in Germany.

On October 30, three further licenses were issued. The licensees for the Schwäbische Donau Zeitung in Ulm at 90,000 copies were Kurt Fried, Johannes Weißer und Paul Thielemann. Fried had been a member of the Deutsche Demokratische Partei before the Nazis came to power. Due to his Jewish ancestry on his father’s side, he was forbidden to publish, yet release two books in 1937 under his wife’s name (Elsie Gotmann).[18] He was eventually arrested and made to work in the German war industry in the Harz as a slave-laborer, from which he was liberated by American forces in 1945. Weißer had been Party Secretary of the SPD in Ulm before 1933. 

Also licensed on October 30 was the Schwäbische Landeszeitung in Augsburg at 100,000 copies. Curt Frenzel and Johann Wilhelm Naumann were the initial licensees. Frenzel had been the editor of the Volksstimme in Chemnitz until 1933. This paper supported the SPD and in that year Frenzel was banned from working in the press. He was also under Gestapo surveillance for ten years thereafter.

Right after the war, Frenzel worked as an editor for the overt Regensburger Post, where he developed the connections and trust required to be granted a license. Eventually he turned his back on the SPD and became an ardent supporter of the CSU. Naumann was a devoted Catholic. The relationship with Frenzel seems to have been strained and eventually Naumann was licensed to publish a paper of his own in 1948 that was aimed at a Catholic readership. However, this happened only after a great deal of agitation on his part, and the support of the Catholic Church.

The Fuldaer Volkszeitung at 35,000 copies was one of the smallest newspapers licensed by the ICD. It is perhaps understandable that it only had a single publisher, although, as noted above, this was highly unusual. Heinrich Kierzek was the ICD’s choice. He had worked for a Centrist newspaper, Echo der Wahrheit, in Aachen until it was forced to close in 1933. After this he worked in private industry until his arrest by the Nazis in 1940. He then spent the remainder of the war as a political prisoner. This paper is also an example of one of the few licensed newspapers that is no longer in operation, having shut down in 1974.

In the latter part of November, the licensing of newspapers continued as the ICD started to fill in the gaps in smaller cities. After the Darmstädter Echo on November 17, the Main Echo in Aschaffenburg and the Main Post in Würzburg were licensed on November 24. This now meant that all of the main cities in the US occupation zone of were served by German newspapers. This also signalled the end of the overt papers, with the exception of Die Neue Zeitung.

Die Neue Zeitung was established in October 1945 covering the entire US occupation zone and was intended as the official voice of OMGUS.  It was published twice a week and its mission was “to bring the American point of view to German readers and to serve as an example of the best in American journalism for the new German press.”[19]

Die Neue Zeitung was founded by Major Hans Habe, an ICD officer. Habe was an Austrian Jew who had studied in Heidelberg for a short time. He had returned to Austria as a result of the growing anti-Semitism in Germany. In Austria he had the distinction of being the youngest newspaper editor at the age of 20. After Austria’s annexation, he fled to France and joined the Foreign Legion, but was captured in the 1940 invasion. He managed to escape and made his way to the United States. After taking American citizenship in 1941, Habe was drafted into the Army in 1942 and underwent psychological warfare training. He participated in the invasion of North Africa, where he would have worked closely with McClure, and in the Italian campaign. He was then sent back to the United States as a psychological warfare instructor. In 1944, as the United States was beginning to plan Germany’s occupation, he was selected to return to Germany based on his proven previous experience as a newspaper editor.

Habe was replaced by Major Hans Wallenberg in March of 1946. It seems that Habe and his superiors differed on the editorial direction the newspaper was taking. Wallenberg had been on the staff of the Vossische Zeitung and a member of the Ullstein Verlag in Berlin until 1933. He left Germany in 1937 for Czechoslovakia.  Eventually, in 1938 Wallenberg left Prague and emigrated to the United States, where he became a citizen and began his service in the US Army in 1942. He came to Die Neue Zeitung in Munich from the Allgemeine Zeitung, which had been established as an overt newspaper in Berlin.

Die Neue Zeitung was a product of the US Army’s Twelfth Army Group’s Psychological Warfare Division, which had set the plans in place for its establishment. While the other overt papers had always been intended as short-term measures, Die Neue Zeitung was seen as a long-term presence in Germany. General Eisenhower made its aims and policies clear through a lead article printed in its first edition of October 18, 1945:

First:  As distinguished from those German newspapers which are now published by German publishers and which represent the beginning of a free press in Germany, Die Neue Zietung will be an official organ of the American authorities.  Its circulation will not be restricted to any given area; rather, it will be circulated throughout the U.S. occupied zone, thus linking all sections.

Second:  Die Neue Zeitung, as an American newspaper published in German language, will set an example for the new German press through the objectivity of its reporting, through unconditional devotion to truth in its articles, and through high journalistic standards.

Third:  Through its emphasis on the affairs of the world, Die Neue Zeitung will widen the view of the German reader by giving him facts which were suppressed in Germany during the twelve years of National Socialistic rule.

Fourth:  Die Neue Zeitung will be a factor in demonstrating to the German people the necessity of the tasks which lie ahead of them.  These tasks include self-help, the elimination of Nazism and militarism from the German mind, and the active de-Nazification of German government and business.[20]

The first issues had a circulation of 500,000 copies and its reception by German readers was deemed to be “enthusiastic” by many of its dealers, who had waiting lists of people wanting copies.[21]  By the end of the year 1945, the circulation of Die Neue Zeitung had reached 1,300,000 copies,[22] and in January 1946, an additional 200,000 copies was added to supply Berlin.[23]

Die Neue Zeitung’s circulation reached its peak in February 1946 at 1,600,000 copies.[24]  However, the scarcity of newsprint also affected Die Neue Zeitung and its circulation was capped at 1,500,000 copies. The popularity of the paper is underlined by the fact that editions were regularly sold out within a day of publication. Moreover, news-dealers suggested that they could sell twice as many papers without effort.  Die Neue Zeitung was distributed through 54 dealers located in the larger cities of the U.S. Zone, Berlin, and Bremen.  At 20 Pfennig a copy, it contributed approximately 2,000,000 RM per month gross to the ICD coffers.  Together with the overt magazines: Die Amerikanische Rundschau, Heute, and Neue Auslese, Die Neue Zeitung was published by the Publishing Operations Branch of ICD and  printed in Munich, with the paper’s chief editor also acting as head of the ICD’s Publishing Operations Branch.

At first, Die Neue Zeitung was permitted to accept international news from the Allied Press Service, the British Broadcasting Company, and Office of War Information (OWI) and from no other sources such as the Associated Press, the United Press, or the International News Service.[25]  Die Neue Zeitung did not just rely on news services for its stories, as the Publishing Operations Branch had a network of special correspondents in centers of Military Government activity for the purpose of insuring proper coverage for its overt publications.”[26]  This arrangement continued even after the formation of DANA, the German news agency.

This is not to say that Die Neue Zeitung did not monitor other news gathering sources. The Associated Press, United Press, Reuters, Radio Moscow, Tass, as well as other organizations so that they could properly counter or support news that Germans received through unofficial channels. Die Neue Zeitung did not have any foreign correspondents, but it did carry articles by writers in the United States and Great Britain.

Die Neue Zeitung carried no advertising. This meant that no company or individual could in any indirect way claim that OMGUS in any way sanctioned them or the service or product they provided. At the same time it gave the partial impression of not competing with ICD-licensed German newspapers, though there would still have been a certain level of market pressure at the newsstand. Since the paper did not have to worry about running an advertising department and story layout was simplified, it could concentrate on delivering the news it felt was important for the re-education of the German people. It also did not have to concern itself with being popular and thus delivering on its pages what the advertisers felt comfortable with. The only master they served was OMGUS. This was in keeping with the direction Eisenhower gave the newspaper:

While popularity with the German readers is desirable, it is not the chief test whether Die Neue Zeitung is carrying out its mission.  As the official newspaper of the American Government in Germany and as spokesman for the American point of view on German and world affairs, it may be desirable and necessary at times to risk unpopularity.[27]

Despite Eisenhower’s support for the paper, sometimes reporting that which the readers did not want to be confronted with, Die Neue Zeitung paid close attention to public opinion surveys emanating from the ICD's Intelligence Branch. A survey conducted in January 1946 indicated that about 50% of those surveyed read Die Neue Zeitung. Additionally, it was discovered that “copies were passed from person to person, a single copy often being read by as many as five readers.”[28] Beyond the simple numbers of Germans being reached by this paper, it was also noted that Germans considered there to be a qualitative difference between the overt and the licensed German papers, with the German papers coming off second best.

By the end of June 1946, things had begun to change. The readership of Die Neue Zeitung began to drop off due to the increasing number of licensed German newspapers. This did not mean that Die Neue Zeitung was no longer read; it had just become people’s second choice. Die Neue Zeitung continued to be the most popular choice, once “the desire for local news had been met by the local newspaper.”[29]

Three more newspapers were licensed before the end of 1945. This brought the total to 23 newspapers with a combined circulation of over 3,000,000 copies.[30]  The papers added in December were all in Bavaria. The Donau Kurier in Ingolstadt, was licensed on December 11 with a circulation of 45,000. The first licensee was Joseph Lackas, who was a nominal CSU supporter. An interesting figure in this is Wilhelm Reissmüller who, immediately after the Adenauer government in 1949 lifted the licensing requirements, became a partner of Lackas. In 1935, Reissmüller led the takeover of the conservative-catholic Ingolstädter Zeitung as part of the Gleichschaltung of the German press under the Nazis. The paper was then merged with the Donaubote, which was owned by his father-inlaw, Ludwig Liebl. Though Reissmüller was never a member of the Nazi Party, he had been a candidate for membership. In addition, as a soldier in the Wehrmacht, he had received the Iron Cross second and first class. All of this hardly made it possible for him to work in the press during the initial period of occupation.

Der Allgäuer in Kempten was licensed on the 13th of December to Caspar Rathgeb. His was an unusual situation in that it appears that he had been given the task of organizing the publication of the paper in September with licensing coming later. Though he was initially a lone licensee, Hans Falk was brought in from Bonn as a partner. What this demonstrates is that the ICD did at times take an active role in ensuring they had the right Germans as licensees. Falk had already been a business editor in newspapers in Hannover, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Berlin until the Nazis took power. After this he worked as an insurance consultant until he secretly left for Austria in 1943, only returning to Germany after the capitulation.

On December 18, the Fränkische Presse in Bayreuth was licensed to Julius Steeger and Walter Fischer, with a circulation of 60,000 copies. Steeger had been a member of the Landesrat for the SPD. He had some difficulties with the Nazi regime and spent a month in Dachau in 1944. 

In the next six months, only 12 newspapers were given licenses, with the bulk of them being issued in January. These were most often smaller papers like: the Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung, the Giessener Freie Presse, the Fränkischer Tag in Bamberg, the Neue Presse in Coburg, and the Isar Post in Landshut.

The Wetzlar paper had an initial circulation of 20,000 copies. It had a history that went back to 1872, when Ferdinand Schnitzler founded it as the Wetzlarer Kreisblatt. The ICD issued the license to Johann Eifinger, a Social Democrat, and Josef Hülsch, with the first issue appearing on January 1, 1946. Hülsch was to remain with the paper until 1950. The Schnitzler family was still in the area, but none of them had been found politically suitable to operate the paper. The paper had operated without difficulty into the last year of the war without having any difficulty with the Nazi regime. However, in 1952 the family managed to take over the new paper.

The Giessener Freie Presse was licensed to Adolf Weller and Julius Hahn, with the first edition appearing on January 8, 1946. Weller had been a member of the SPD since 1919 and had worked as an advertising agent for the Gießener Anzeiger, which had been founded in 1750 under the name Giessener Wochenblatt. Until he took over the paper, Weller had been the manager of the OMGUS’s administrative center in Giessen. Once again, one sees the ICD promoting from within. One could almost see the press license as being issued to someone they had grown to trust and perhaps as a reward for Weller’s work with the occupation forces. Of particular interest with this newspaper is the fact that Julius Hahn, the second licensee, was also a member of the SPD. This indicates a shift away from the initial policy of having a politically balanced directorate for the licensed press. Hahn had been a film and theater script writer before the Nazis came to power. Because he had actively opposed the Nazis, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1933 and spent 6 weeks in jail. Again in 1942, he was arrested and brought to a labor camp in Silesia, where the advancing Soviet army eventually liberated him. The two divided the task of running the paper along their administrative strengths; with Weller seeing to the physical production of the paper while Hahn took on the editorial duties.

The Fränkischer Tag in Bamberg, with a circulation of 60,000 copies, the Neue Presse in Coburg at 45,000 copies, and the Isar Post in Landshut with an allotment of 50,000 copies, were additional Bavarian newspapers licensed in January. These were followed on the 5th of February by the Passauer Neue Presse, which was permitted an initial circulation of 60,000. In their rush to license further, smaller newspapers, ICD officers in Bavaria seemed to become less discriminating in who was granted a publishing permit. For example, Hans Kapfinger, the licensee of the Passauer Neue Presse, had been recognized as a victim of the Nazi regime, because of his arrest by the Nazis in 1933. However, even a rudimentary background check should have raised questions in the minds of the ICD interrogators.

Kapfinger had worked as chief editor of the Straubinger Tageblatt until 1933 and was known for his strong views in support of political Catholicism, having written his dissertation on the topic at the university in Munich. Though he had been arrested in 1933, which was the basis of his claim as a victim of Nazi oppression, he was released shortly thereafter. More than this, he almost immediately started working for various publishing houses and continued to do so until the end of the war. In fact, the last paper he worked for, as interim chief editor, before Germany’s surrender was the Nazi paper Deutsche Werbung, a fact that, as reported in Der Spiegel in 1962, he spent considerable effort trying to camouflage.[31] All of this should have made Kapfinger persona non grata in Germany’s postwar media. However, in their desire to hand over control of the press to the Germans, he slipped through. On the other hand, if one is prone to conspiracy theories, one might even see the ICD officers in Passau as being sympathetic to this man who was later characterized as a “Kommunistenjäger.”[32]

Two licenses were issued in March for newspapers in Württemberg-Baden. The Badische Neueste Nachrichten in Karlsruhe was allowed a print run of 100,000 and Die Heilbronner Stimme was permitted a circulation of 35,000. Wilhelm Baur and Walter Schwerdtfeger were the licensees when the first edition of the Badische Neueste Nachrichten appeared on March 4, 1946. Baur had been a member of the Centrist Party and was a journalist for the Badischer Beobachter until the Nazis took power. After this he worked in the office of the Badenia Bausparkasse. When he was awarded the press license he was a supporter of the fledgling CDU which was the offspring of the earlier Zentrum Partei. Schwerdtfeger, on the other hand, is reported to have been a supporter of the SPD, who did not support stubborn partisan politics. Prior to 1936 he had been a journalist for ten years. In that year he was arrested by the Nazis and sentenced to life imprisonment. He had been incarcerated for about nine years, when he was freed by the French forces in April of 1945.[33] Schwerdtfeger left the paper in 1950.

The ICD's licensing policy changed in April 1946. Since the occupation zone was now deemed to have sufficient coverage of print news services, they began the task of open competing newspapers in the larger centers. This meant that for the first time since 1933 individuals would have unfettered access to competing viewpoints in the media. The first city to enjoy this new found freedom was Frankfurt am Main.  Frankfurter Neue Presse, with an initial circulation of 150,000 copies, began publishing twice weekly in competition with the Frankfurter Rundschau.  The new policy called for licensing second newspapers in all cities with populations of 100,000 or more.  However, Frankfurt was the only city to have two such newspapers by the end of June 1946.

Hugo Stenzel and August Berning, both supporters of the CDU, were the original licensees for this new paper. Initially, Bruno Stümpke, an SPD supporter, was to have been a licensee as well, but during the vetting process it was discovered that he had been a Kapo (trustee) in the concentration camp where he had been imprisoned.[34] Knowing how Alfred Toombs, the Head of Intelligence, felt about such individuals, it is not at all surprising that he was denied a license.[35] The paper was, however, to have further difficulties when Berning’s license was nullified after he had apparently had libeled and offended one of the ICD officers by suggesting he was an anarchist and certainly not a good American.[36] Apparently, it had been made clear to Berning by one of the ICD press officers that they were not going to tolerate two Catholic licensees at the same paper for long and that he was simply a placeholder until someone more suitable could be found. Interestingly, Berning, after leaving the paper, received a monthly stipend from the paper in the amount of 1000 DM for ten years following.[37]

While the Frankfurter Neue Presse was the most pressing of the projects at the time, a few other newspapers were licensed in some of the smaller cities. The Fränkische Landeszeitung in Ansbach began publishing on 24 April with a circulation of 60,000 copies and two further Bavarian newspapers were added in May. This brought the first phase of the licensing program to an end at 35, with the exception of second newspapers in Munich and Stuttgart.  The Südost Kurier in Bad Reichenhall was licensed on 10 May and Der Neue Tag in Weiden received its license on 31 May, with publication set to begin in June.

Throughout this time, the ICD considered all of the papers they had licensed to be potential dailies. However, the newsprint supply remained a constant problem. All of the papers, with the exclusion of Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin, had to sometime make due with not reaching their allocated circulation. That Der Tagesspiegel was exempt from these issues was a matter of the increasing political tension between the US and the Soviets. Berlin had now become the focus of a paper war between the two erstwhile allies.

The roster of licensed newspapers in the U.S.-occupied areas of Germany on 30 June 1946 showed 19 newspapers in Bavaria, 9 in Greater Hesse, 5 in Württemberg-Baden, and 1 each in Bremen and Berlin.[38]

While the ICD was willing to make compromises in the initial licensing of newspapers, they carefully watched how the editorial policy of the papers developed, how they were received by the reading public, and the difficulties the papers encountered as they established themselves as the arbiters of Germany’s new OMGUS determined political agenda.

Despite the fact that licensing of newspapers in the American zone of control was almost completed, it was never, at least initially, the intention of the ICD to completely exit the production of overt newspapers. As it did phase out its overt newspapers, it retained Die Neue Zeitung, under its full control.[39] The intention was, as indicated by the policies and aims established by Eisenhower, 1) to retain at least one official Military Government voice in the print media, 2) provide an example of how newspapers were to objectively and truthfully report the news, 3) widen the Germans’ view in regard to things they had not been exposed to during the Nazi regime. Edward Breitenkamp, a former ICD officer, in his brief outline of how the ICD functioned, noted a possible fourth reason for maintaining Die Neue Zeitung has a functioning newspaper. It was to remain in place in order to demonstrate to the Germans that their newspapers could be shut down at a moments notice and that the ICD could become the sole provider of news to the German people.[40] In other words, the newspaper could be shut down in a particular city and additional editions of Die Neue Zeitung could be produced and distributed to fill the void left by the newspaper that had been shut down.

In order for German newspapers to remain in good standing with the occupation forces, they had a few hard and fast rules that they needed to follow. The official policy regarding what German newspapers could not publish were:

1.there were to be no national socialist ideas contained in any of the stories “Völkisch” ideas which related to racism or race hatred were forbidden

3.fascist or antidemocratic ideas were forbidden

4.pan-German or opinions of an imperialist nature, which were considered militarist, were also forbidden.

5.No criticism of the Military Government’s policies or personnel were to be tolerated.[41]

While there were violations of the above noted ICD policies, most came in the form of not separating news from opinion and for the most part were considered to be minor infractions of the rules.

At the same time, the ICD did not leave their new publishers to work in isolation. On 20 October 1945 the ICD organized the first general meeting of the 45 licensed publishers and editors of the Western Military District, representing eleven newspapers, at a conference in Marburg. This was the first step in re-establishing an association of publishers and editors as existed before 1933.  The ICD considered this development of great significance; because it was the first time in 12 years that German newspapermen had been able to freely talk with one another about “their mutual problems and policies.”[42] The second day of the conference was devoted to the development of DANA and the training of new journalists. For this, representatives from the Eastern Military District joined the group. Press Control officers were also in attendance, but only as observers and providing advice when requested.

After this conference a further one was organized for the publishers from Bavaria.  On November 17, 1945 they met at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  Two days later, the Bavarian Publishers Association was proposed and its constitution and by-laws were approved by OMGUS on December 5.

It took a little longer for the newspaper association to get underway in Hessen and Württemberg-Baden.  The association for Hessen was approved on May 9 at Fulda, after meeting on April 7.  Publishers in Württemberg-Baden had already received approval on May 6 at Stuttgart. After a brief transition period, the three publishers' groups began “dealing with a number of matters which formerly had been referred to Military Government” at the end of June. Though the associations were ostensibly independent bodies, ICD officers were invited to participate. With these independent bodies in place for the first time since 1933, the German press became more and more able to deal with problems on their own without political or governmental interference.

Although by mid-1947 OMGUS no longer directly controlled newspapers, as had been the case early in the occupation, it continued to carefully screen and rescreen licensees and post-publication scrutiny of newspapers was the rule. Even after two years of a seemingly good working relationship with the licensed press, the ICD reminded US licensed publishers August 1947, “that they would be held fully responsible for the contents of their newspapers.”[43] Indeed this seemed to work as Ralph Willett suggests that German writers and artists in the US zone did pull their punches for fear of having their licenses or registrations revoked.[44]

This was not just an idle threat. In that same month the ICD revoked the licenses of four leading newspapermen.[45] One licensee each from the Frankfurter Neue Presse and the Frankfurter Rundschau and two licensees of the Bremerhaven Nordsee Zeitung were dismissed, when evidence turned up during the rescreening process “that their actions and policies were in conflict with the principles of a democratic press.”[46] In addition, Karl Vetter of Der Mannheimer Morgen was asked to tender his resignation in January 1948 because of his close association with the Nazi Propaganda Ministry.

This was not the only way in which licensees could run afoul of the authorities. There would also be instances in which one of the occupying powers might take offense at something appearing in a newspaper in one of the other zones and ask that the situation be addressed. Another way of dealing with the situation would be to ban the newspaper from appearing in one’s zone, as was the case with the French. French military government authorities suspended the distribution of the Rhein-Neckar Zeitung for three months, accusing the paper of having attacked French occupation policy. In this particular case, the ban was put in place without prior notice to OMGUS, a situation that apparently did not sit well with the ICD. In order to avoid a repeat of what must have been an embarrassing situation for OMGUS, since it made it appear as though they had sanctioned the views expressed in the paper, the French authorities were asked to bring future violations by US licensed newspapers to the attention of OMGUS before action was taken.

In addition to the problems that newspapers might encounter with the ICD officers, they also were confronted at times with a German bureaucracy that had an agenda of its own and tried to control what the papers reported on. Such was the case with the new licensees of the Nordsee Zeitung when they took over from the previous licensees. The Mayor of Bremerhaven ordered city officials not to grant interviews or to give statements directly to the press. He went even further and established a Central Press Bureau, which was to censor all official news releases. The paper found an innovative way of challenging the censorship decree when it began replacing the official municipal releases with recipes for housewives. They were not alone in taking action. The Weser Kurier of Bremen, in a show of journalistic solidarity, supported the actions of the Bremerhaven paper. It was not long before the censorship order was withdrawn.

As the newspaper media and the publishing houses in Germany gained more and more freedom from oversight and OMGUS turned more power over to local German authorities, an issue surfaced that could have undone everything the ICD had worked to establish in Germany. The problem was that the new publishers had little or no capital of their own to work with, other than the license and a clean political record. At the beginning of the occupation, the ICD had provided licensees with the facilities to print their newspapers and books, but this arrangement could have been nullified by a new German government that might turn the property back over to the original owners and the old guard could then have effectively shut down the new papers and restarted their own publications.

For this reason, OMGUS issued a regulation in September 1947, which provided security of property tenure for the US licensed newspaper publishers in Germany.  This regulation stipulated that, if the owner of a newspaper printing plant was unwilling to voluntarily execute a new lease with a licensed publisher, OMGUS would require that a five-year mandatory lease be extended. Moreover, if the publisher could not make new arrangements for a printing facility during the term of the first lease, it would be extended for an additional three years, essentially giving the newspaper a secure printing facility until 1955. As well, it ensured that the original owner, who had been deemed unsuitable in the new media established by the ICD, could not re-enter the newspaper industry until 10 years after the end of the war and would have to compete with solidly established media outlets. While this arrangement might appear draconian, it did provide for the payment of a fair rental to the owner of the printing plant. It also made accommodation for an annual review of the lease with the possibility of the terms being modified due to changing economic and financial conditions.

The ICD went even further to ensure the financial security of the newly established newspapers. In February 1948, the ICD began dispersing the more than 48,000,000 RM it had collected as the 20% fee on gross receipts of US licensed newspapers. While the fund’s primary purpose had been to provide a reserve fund in cases of financial exigency in the first few years, these funds had seldom been necessary to aid the licensed press. The first step in finally utilizing this fund was the establishment of Wirtschaftliche Genossenschaft der Presse with a grant of 25,000,000 RM from the ICD’s bank account. This new organization was to be administered by a German Board of Supervisors, who were in turn supervised by military government authorities. The purpose was to provide loans to newspaper publishers and news agencies licensed in the US occupied area and ensure that they could procure new facilities and equipment. The rest of the fund, some 23,000,000 RM, was divided among the existing newspaper publishers. With this sudden influx of cash, the papers were able to very quickly make improvements to their physical plants, purchase equipment, and build up the supplies needed to publish their papers. This last point was particularly important given the chronic issue of paper shortages, since it allowed newspapers to expand from semi-weekly papers to dailies.

There were, however, some problems associated with this fund that were out of the control of the ICD. Perhaps the most significant of these was the currency reform of June 21, 1948. By this date, the fund had increased to about 36,000,000 RM, but this was now reduced to approximately 3,600,000 DM. While one could argue that the fund was now capitalized with a currency that had real value, the psychological impact of the now much smaller number was significant and soon the fund had been exhausted in the form of loans to its members. While assistance did come from money made available through the Marshall Plan, this new money was also available to the approximately 650 new papers that were started between June and September of 1949 as a result of the of the lifting of licensing requirements in June.

In the third year of the occupation, German newspapers began extending their reach and were reporting far more on: world political and economic developments, American foreign policy, the European recovery program, several of the conferences held in London, the world food crisis, the political crisis in Czechoslovakia in February, and the April elections in Italy. These stories were an important proving ground for the German papers and the ICD watched their reporting and commentary carefully. Of special importance was not so much what the papers reported or their political take on the stories, but rather whether the papers were adhering to the ICD policy of clearly differentiating between reporting on the news story itself and editorial comment. The ICD also carefully monitored newspaper reporting on Allied conference decisions on Germany. These received full coverage in the papers, especially when the new industrial plans for the US and British zones were announced in August 1947. The papers carried the full text of the decisions with explanations following on the editorial pages and not mixed in with the text of the news story, as had been the practice prior to the occupation.

A further meaningful step for journalism was taken in November 1947. In London a conference of Foreign Ministers was held and for the first time German journalists were to cover the story and not simply pick up whatever came across the wire service. OMGUS managed to secure the cooperation of the British Foreign Office and two German journalists were authorized to cover the story for the licensed press and radio in the US zone. Erik Reger, one of the licensed publishers and editor in chief of Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin and Hilda Brockhoff, the assistant foreign editor of DENA, where the first representatives of the US licensed press permitted to cover an assignment outside of Germany. Together, the two managed to file an average of 1000 words daily to DENA. Reger also broadcast a number of reports direct from London through the facilities of RIAS in Berlin. This gave the Germans, for the first time in many years, firsthand reports on the discussions important to their future without them first being filtered through foreign sources. 

Reger’s excursion into the journalistic outside world was not to end there. The German papers had closely followed the progress of the European Recovery Program (ERP) and the German population had been kept up to date on all of its various developments.  So, during final congressional discussions of the program in March of 1948, Reger was given special permission to travel to the United States and report on the final hearing.  Twice a week he sent commentaries to Berlin by radio, with these being rebroadcast by the five US controlled radio stations and printed in the US licensed papers. The German press devoted considerable space to covering the Foreign Assistance Act and highlighted the subsequent Paris conference of the participating nations. German editorial writers hailed Germany’s inclusion in the program as a sign that the German people were truly on the road to rehabilitation in the eyes of the rest of the world.

The ICD not only used the newspapers in the US zone to deliver its message to the German people, but also used them to gauge the mood and anxiety of the Germans, especially over the tension in Berlin leading to the blockade. They not only read the editorial pages of the German press, but paid close attention to reader letters to the editors.

Die Neue Zeitung also took an active role in disseminating the US political program during this time. One of the most significant was John Gilbert Winant’s A Letter from Grosvenor Square, which is a retelling of the war as seen through the eyes of the American ambassador to Great Britain during the war years. It was intended to bring home to the Germans, in a rather gentle way, the struggle of Great Britain to survive. Winston Churchill's memoirs were also serialized in the paper and were a means of showing the determination of the British during even the darkest period of the Blitz.

The means of reaching out to the German people was not just through political memoires. The paper showed a surprizing breadth of field in what it included in its pages and did not confine itself to American or British writers. The cultural pages of Die Neue Zeitung included reprints of works by: Irving Stone, Andre Gide, José Ortega y Gasset, Louis Bromfield, William Saroyan, Thomas Mann, Carl Zuckmayer, Stefen Zweig, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Somerset Maugham.

During the third year of its publication, Die Neue Zeitung increased its circulation from 1,200,000 copies to 1,905,000 copies. Part of the reason for this was to more fully penetrate the readership in the Soviet zone. This, however, was not the only area that it thought vulnerable. The Ruhr, which contained a considerable left-wing element that was sympathetic to the Soviets, also received extra papers. In this way the paper was used to stabilize support for the Americans in the western part of Germany, because the Americans saw the Ruhr as being crucial to the revitalization of western Germany. With the Die Neue Zeitung one can see the special effort that the Americans made in shoring up their support in Berlin through the special Berlin supplement that was printed in semi-weekly editions of 400,500 copies.

The ICD also took some of its final steps in completing the task of licensing newspapers in its zone during the period July 1947 to June 1948. To this end, a further five newspapers were licensed, bringing the total to 51.

The Nordsee Zeitung had been founded 1866 (North Sea Newspaper), but the publisher of the paper during the Nazi period, Kurt Ditzen, had taken out a membership in the Nazi party in 1938 and was disqualified as a publisher. The license was instead issued to Bruno Stöwsand and Walter Gong. Stöwsand had spent 4 years in various concentration camps from 1935 to 1939 due to his opposition to the Nazis. After the war he worked as an editor for DENA until he was granted a license as a newspaper publisher.  The paper was published three times a week in Bremerhaven and had a circulation of 50,000.  Though the paper was licensed on 18 July 1947, its first issue did not appear until October 27 due to what was simply termed “internal personnel problems.” In 1948, Ditzen was cleared by the denazification tribunal and took over in 1949 as publisher, with Stöwsand remaining as chief editor and in an executive position.

Johann Brandenburg and Felix Richter were authorized to publish the Süddeutsche Allgemeine in Pforzheim on July 29, 1947. Brandenburg, a lawyer by trade, was a Catholic supporter of the FDP. His ownership of the paper, however, was short-lived, since he had to give it up when he became mayor of Pforzheim in 1948. Richter, who was a supporter of the SPD, but not a member of the party, served as the editor of the paper. The Süddeutsche Allgemeine had a modest circulation of 39,000. The paper underwent a number of name changes since its inception and indeed, like some of the other papers, could call upon a longer tradition of having been published under various names prior to 1945. As with the Nordsee Zeitung there was a former publisher of the newspaper, Jakob Esslinger, waiting in the wings to take over, once the ICD restrictions were lifted. Though there was no indication that Esslinger had been complicit in delivering Nazi propaganda and had even been shut down by the Nazis in 1943, ostensibly due to paper shortages, he was not allowed to operate the paper when the ICD decided to reopen it. So it was that on December 1, 1949, Richter left the paper and allowed Esslinger to once step in as publisher of the paper.

On August 28, 1947, the Niederbayerische Nachrichten began publishing under the license granted to Albert König, who was a supporter of the SPD, and Hans Wetzel, a supporter of the CSU. Initially, they had no plant in which to publish the paper, but the ICD quickly stepped in and forced Georg Huber of the Huber’schen Verlag to sign a printing contract with König and Wetzel. The paper was published in Straubing twice weekly with a circulation of 50,000. The Straubing paper is another good example of what happened after ICD licensing of newspapers was ended. In this case it was, however, not a matter of the old publisher, who may have be tainted by a connection with the Nazi, but another existing licensee that created a problem for the paper.

Though Huber was “just” the printer of the newspaper, it seems that he took a far greater leadership role in running the paper than might have been evident from the license issued by the ICD. It was he who would eventually lock horns with Hans Kapfinger, who already held a license for the newspaper in Passau, but was looking to expand into the Straubing area. Kapfinger had even reached an agreement with König and Wetzel to take over the paper on June 3, 1949. This, however, caused the printers to go on strike and they refused to print the paper. This, in turn, caused the printing for the Straubing paper to be transferred to the Passau plant. At the same time, Huber was preparing to publish a new paper called the Straubinger Tagblatt, which was at that time still unsellable due to the licensing requirements still being in force. Huber went so far as to print a test run in August 12. One might guess that Huber had insider information about what was going to happen, because ten days later licensing was ended in the US zone.[47]

The Werra Rundschau, published in Eschwege, Hessen on a weekly basis, had a circulation of 20,000. Peter Kluthe, who, according to the ICD was affiliated with the Liberal Democrats (LDP), was authorized to publish the paper in January 1948. This paper seemed to run without any of the dramatic episodes experienced by some of the other papers and Kluthe appeared to work well with his two editors, Max Klier and Alfred Nagel, as well as the rest of the team that he had assembled.

According to the ICD reports, the Schwäbische Post was licensed on February 25, 1948 to Karl Eduard Conrads, who was the political editor of the paper and not affiliated with any party, and Johannes Binkowski, who acted as the publisher and was a member of the CDU.[48] It seems that shortly after the paper’s founding, Konrad Theiss replaced Conrads as Binkowski’s co-licensee. The paper was published in Aalen (Württemberg-Baden) at a rate of two issues per week and a circulation of 33,000 per issue. Binkowski held a doctorate in theology and had published a book about religious education for adults in 1940. The contents of this book, however, caused the Nazis to issue a ban on his writing, though he does not appear to have been arrested. Instead, he was drafted into the army and subsequently became a prisoner of war with the Americans.

The last newspaper to be licensed in Hessen was the Waldecker Kurier on June 9, 1948. It was published in Korbach twice a week and had a circulation 17,000. Ludwig Steinkohl, a member of the CDU, acted both as editor and publisher of the paper. The Waldecker Kurier is an unusual newspaper in that it only published until May 31, 1950. Almost all of the other papers had become so well established that their market position had become unassailable by any of the other papers that were started after the licensing requirement had been done away with. In the case of the Waldecker Kurier the problem may have been the so-called Dietz Affair, in which it was virtually the only Hessian newspaper that took the side of Fritz Dietz, who was eventually found guilty of misusing his power as minister in charge of food distribution to his benefit. Steinkohl upheld the principle of not declaring Dietz guilty before he had been found so, while the other papers doggedly went after him. In this case, Dietz was found guilty and was sentenced to two 90-day prison terms. While Steinkohl may or may not have taken a principled stand, it cost him credibility in the eyes of his readers. Another reason could well have been the fact that Steinkohl envisioned the paper as a true local paper, published for those who call Waldeck home. The problem was that at least 33% of his readers, or those residing in Waldeck, were now from elsewhere and thus the attraction for local news being at the forefront was not a particularly strong selling feature.

The newspapers in the US zone, though working on their own, also undertook projects that saw them cooperating with one another and treating the newspaper as being more than a news reporting device and as an organ for a greater sense of unity as well. In the spring of 1947 the Verband Bayerischer Zeitungsverleger (Bavarian Newspaper Publishers Association), enlisted the support of OMGUS and other agencies to put on an international press exhibit. This show outlined the early history and development of newspapers not only in Germany but worldwide. As could be expected, special emphasis was given to how German newspapers had developed under the occupation.  The exhibit ran from 5 May to 15 June 1948 and was the first such event in US-occupied Germany. The first day saw about 10,000 people attending the opening ceremonies. What followed was quite remarkable and during the six weeks of the exhibit more than 220,000 visitors attended.

Some of the displays tried to recreate a sense of history and tradition for the newspaper industry in Germany. In the German section of the exhibit, the history of German newspapers from 1848 to 1933 was chronicled.  A further display, “The Press in Chains,” demonstrated the conditions encountered by the press during the Nazi regime. This was then contrasted with presentation of the German press in the postwar period, with samples of newspapers from all of the occupation zones. They also did not shy away from the mission the ICD had given the German press. They were quite forward in stating that the press was there to in aid in re-educating and reorienting the German people. Moreover, their task was to expose and remove any signs of Nazism and militarism. This was emphasised through a display including many recent editorials that attacked these ideas. DENA was also present and Die Neue Zeitung, the official OMGUS newspaper also presented their stories.

The Americans had a section of the exhibition devoted to presenting a complete history of the press in the United States. It stressed the importance of the public service function of the American newspaper.  The demonstration material was, for the most part, on loan from American newspapers, universities, and libraries. They even made special arrangements to show the motion picture Call Northside 777, which had been released February 1, 1948 starring Jimmy Stewart. The film dealt with the role of the press as a check to the power of the government and its officials. In the film, Jimmy Stewart plays a reporter who grudgingly takes an assignment to report on a woman who placed an ad in the paper to help catch the murderer of a police officer in 1933. The woman’s son was found guilty of the murder, but she was convinced that he was innocent. As the reporter digs into the story, he begins to believe in the young man’s innocence as well. The further he investigates, the greater the resistance he encounters.

In addition to the feature length film, other short films were also shown. The most significant of these was on the case of the German born John Peter Zenger and his fight for freedom of the press in colonial America. Zenger owned the first independent newspaper in New York and was famous for running satirical pieces aimed at the Governor of the colony. He was finally brought to trial and in 1735 was acquitted of seditious libel, though what he had been printing fit the legal description of libel at the time. This film was clearly aimed at drawing a connection between the United States, Germany, and freedom of the press. Further films, such as The New York Times, were more instructional in nature and showed the methods and techniques of American journalism.

Other countries participating in the exhibition included Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Austria. Perhaps the most significant was the display of newspapers published during the war by resistance groups in occupied countries.

The exhibition also featured its own newspaper, the Tageszeitung, which was the brainchild of the ICD officer Ernst Langendorf. This newspaper was written, typeset, and printed in full view of all of the visitors to the exhibit. In the view of the ICD, the Tageszeitung combined the best features of American and German journalism and presented up to the minute news in a popular way. Each day, 70,000 copies were printed and then distributed throughout the US zone. The copies kept for sale at the exhibition sold out almost as soon as they came available.

The paper proved to be so popular that it was continued for another three months as Die Abendzeitung (The Evening Newspaper), with a daily circulation of 25,000 copies under a licence granted to Werner Friedmann, who was already one of the licensees of Die Süddeutsche Zeitung. Friedmann was half Jewish on his father’s side and, despite this, had been drafted into the Wehrmacht. Prior to the Nazis taking power, he had worked as a journalist for the Süddeutsche Sonntagspost. Upon being released from incarceration in a British prisoner of war camp, he was employed by the Die Süddeutsche Zeitung in 1945 and made one of the four licensees in 1946. Initially, the Die Abendzeitung was to be published on a non-profit basis, being sponsored by the Bavarian newspaper publishers association and used as a training ground for young journalists. The newspaper, however, went on to be successful and, though it still fulfilled its role as a place for young writers to cut their teeth, very quickly became independent and turned a profit.

The exhibition was more than just a showcase for the newspapers. Attached to it was a three-day International Press Convention. This was an opportunity for more than 50 journalists from the United States, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Austria, and about 200 representatives of German newspapers of the four occupation areas to discuss the techniques and trends of modern journalism.

            While the Bavarian Exhibition was the largest and most obvious of the efforts on the part of the ICD to promote their vision what Germany’s newspapers should look like, there were many other smaller events that helped point the German newspapermen towards the American model of how the press relates to its environment. For example, German correspondents were encouraged to attend three-week intensive journalism courses conducted by the American military’s Stars and Stripes newspaper, which was headquarters in Pfungstadt just south of Darmstadt.

            The ICD also encouraged a strong working relationship between Swiss newspapers and the licensed papers in Germany. Such was the case when the Swiss agency Kosmospress was licensed to sell its services directly to US licensed newspapers in December 1945. A further initiative undertaken by the Swiss, and permitted by the ICD, was the visit of Bavarian newspaper representatives to Switzerland sponsored by the Swiss Newspaper Publishers Association in March 1946.

There were also visits from newspapermen from further afield. At the Coburg newspapermen’s conference there were high-ranking American newspaper publishers in attendance for the first time since the end of the war. Eugene Meyer, publisher of the Washington Post and who was to shortly become the first President of the World Bank, and Geoffrey Parsons, editor of the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune encouraged and admonished the German publishers on the responsibilities and duties of a free, democratic press.

[1] History I.

[2] The New York Times. June 28, 1945.

[3] Time. July 9, 1945.

[4] History I.

[5] Bark and Gress 155.

[6] Ziemke 371.  His source is History of Military Government in Land Wuerttemberg-Baden, vol. I, p. 1316. (History of Military Government in Land Wuerttemberg-Baden, 8 May 45-30 Jun 46, in OMGUS 410-1 /3. (2) Hist Rpt, Eastern Military District, 15 Dec 45-14 Jan 46, in OMGUS 76-3/10)

[7] Elizabeth Janik, “‘The Golden Hunger Years’: Music and Superpower Rivalry in Occupied Berlin.” German History 22:1, 76-100. (p. 87).

[8] NARA RG 260 390/42/16/7 Box 140.

[9] NARA RG 260 390/42/15/2 Box 29.

[10] History I. The information on the licensees has been compiled from an intelligence report entitled “Licensed Personnel of the Frankfurter Rundschau” (October 23, 1945) NARA RG 260 390/42/15/2 Box 29.

[11] “Intelligence Report on Wilhelm Gerst” by Phillips Davison (October 1946), “Word Picture on Karl Wilhelm Gerst” by Robert Schmid (September 30, 1946), “Memo to Kinard on Gerst” by Eggleston (October 9, 1946), NARA RG 260 390/42/15/2 Box 29.

[12] Welsch 77.

[13] History I.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] It is noted that Heuss spoke out against voting for the enabling act within his party caucus. In the end, he decided to maintain party discipline and voted for the Enabling Act.

32 The ICD indicated him as having leaning toward the Bayerischer Bauernbund, but this party had been dissolved in 1933, with the leadership urging members to join the NSDAP. After the war, its former members gravitated towards the CSU.

[18] Deutsche Briefe der Liebe und Freundschaft and Briefe und Gedichte.

[19] History I.

[20] Ibid..

[21] OMGUS, ICD Functional Annex to the Monthly Report of the Military Governor, No. 4 (20 Nov 45), Press, p. 3.

[22] OMGUS, ICD Functional Annex to the Monthly Report of the Military Governor, No. 6 (20 Jan 46), Press, p. 2

[23] OMGUS, ICD Functional Annex to the Monthly Report of the Military Governor, No. 7 (20 Feb 46), Press, p. 3.

[24] OMGUS, ICD Functional Annex to the Monthly Report of the Military Governor, No. 8 (20 Mar 45), Press, p. 4.

[25] History I.

[26] Ibid.

[27] OMGUS, Weekly Information Bulletin, NO. 66 (4 Nov 46)

[28] History I.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Figure does not include Die Neue Zeitung.

[31] Der Spezi,” Der Spiegel 11, 1962, 14.03.1962, pp. 26-34.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Kathleen Nawyn “‘Striking at the Roots of German Militarism’: Efforts to Demilitarize German Society and Culture in American-Occupied Württemberg-Baden, 1945-1949,” Diss. Chapel Hill, 2008. P 327.

[34] Ibid 290.

[35] See page 63 for further details.

[36] Nawyn 297.

[37] Ibid 298.

[38] For a complete listing, see Appendix E.

[39] In this text the terms interviewed and interrogated are used interchangeably, though in the Intelligence Summary “interrogated” is used most often to describe the how the ICD obtained its information from German subjects.

[40] “Information Control: Intelligence Summary,” January 26, 1946, NARA, College Park, RG 260 390/41/10/1 Box 454.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Ibid.

[61] “Information Control: Intelligence Summary,” January 26, 1946, NARA, College Park, RG 260 390/41/10/1 Box 454.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Ibid.

[69] Die Neue Zeitung was published in Munich from October 17, 1945 until January 30, 1955 and included in its banner the phrase “Eine amerikanische Zeitung für die deutsche Bevölkerung.

[70] Breitenkamp 39.

[71] History I.

[72] Ibid.

[73] History III.

[74] Willett 4.

[75] History III.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Historisches Lexikon Bayerns Online.

[78] “The German Press in the US Occupied Area 1945-1948,” Special Report of the Military Governor November 1948. Online.