ARCHIV - Undatierte Aufnahme, Hamburg: Der Publizist, Herausgeber, Chefredakteur, Gründer des Hamburger Magazins «Stern» und Kunstmäzen Henri Nannen mit einer Ausgabe seiner Zeitschrift an seinem Schreibtisch. 1948 ist in Deutschland ein wichtiges Gründungsjahr für Zeitungen und Zeitschriften. Auch Henri Nannen bringt seine Illustrierte an den Markt. Jetzt wird der «Stern» 70. (zu dpa «Menschen und was sie bewegt» - der «Stern» wird 70») Foto: Fotoreport Stern Hamburg Bokelma/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The debate about Henri Nannen’s (1913-1996) Nazi past continues unabated. Now the former “Zeit” editor Theo Sommer is protecting the “Stern” founder. “I think Henri Nannen’s inner conversion is exemplary, his open-hearted penitence, his commitment to the rule of law, inner liberality and humanity,” Sommer wrote in an article for “Zeit”.

Nannen was one of those “who made the second German republic the most free and livable state that our history has ever produced”.

After research by the YouTube channel “Strg_F” belonging to the NDR about anti-Semitic leaflets, in which Nannen is said to have been involved in a leading position, a new discussion about his attitude to the Nazi regime flared up. The Gruner Jahr publishing house has Nannen’s biography examined by a commission.

The previous Nannen Prize was awarded as a “star” prize this year, the deletion of the name from the imprint of the magazine and a renaming of the Henri Nannen School are on the agenda. Nannen was the founder, long-time publisher and editor-in-chief of “Stern”.

Media lawyer Christian Schertz meanwhile sent a letter to NDR director Jochen Knuth on behalf of the Nannen family. The specific reporting in the NDR report on “Zapp” and “Strg_F” is “simply to be regarded as a false statement of fact,” writes the lawyer.

The NDR is asked to provide the contributions in the future with the note “that there is no evidence that Henri Nannen was involved in the leaflets that were actually displayed”. In addition, the claim “Nannen: His role as head of an SS propaganda unit” with the associated visual design had to be taken offline. Otherwise there will be a legal dispute, the lawyer announced.

The NDR is currently examining the Schertz letter, said an NDR spokeswoman. “NDR’s articles on Henri Nannen and his responsibility for the propaganda work of the ‘Südstern’ are based on our own legally verified and extensively documented research,” she emphasized.

“Nannen’s responsibility for the propaganda work of the ‘Südstern’ is undisputed.” Even the “Stern” wrote in 2014: “Sir Henri was the boss.” Other sources confirmed this, according to the spokeswoman.

Sommer, who was editor-in-chief of the “Zeit” until 1993 and one of the publishers of the weekly newspaper until 2000, writes that Nannen was not the only one who made an inner change after 1945, “but he turned his back on the criminal brown folly in words as in deeds”. “He didn’t hide his own role. He confessed early on that he knew that defenseless people were being exterminated in Nazi Germany,” Sommer writes.