Gregor Peter Schmitz’s tenure as editor-in-chief of “Stern” begins with a tremendous challenge. The former editor-in-chief of the “Augsburger Allgemeine” only moved to Hamburg in April. But instead of calmly preparing for the upcoming 75th anniversary of the publication of the magazine founded on August 1, 1948 next year, the “Stern” now has to face the past for a completely different reason.
It’s about the allegations against its founder Henri Nannen. The magazine now wants to face them. “On the occasion of the 75th birthday of the ‘stern’, we will have all facets of his (Nannen’s) activity during the Nazi years examined by experts,” announced Gregor Peter Schmitz. The “Stern” was once one of the most successful magazine foundations after the Second World War. In the mid-1990s, the circulation was 1.25 million copies, by 2021 the circulation had fallen to around 360,000 issues.
The public youth channel “Funk” published research on Henri Nannen in the last years of the Second World War last week. It was not just about Nannen’s work as a war correspondent and his work in a propaganda company in Italy, which Nannen had made no secret of.
The publication through the research format “Strg_F” is explosive because it blames the later “Stern” founder for anti-Semitic, racist and sexist leaflets. She also accuses Nannen of having employed former members of the company “Südstern” either directly at “Stern” or in its environment after the war.
Even if the article does not contain any “fundamentally new findings”, it does provide pictures “which the ‘Südstern’ department with Nannen in a leading position published, probably in order to undermine the fighting spirit of the Allies and also to stir up hatred of Jews among them”. , writes the new “Stern” editor-in-chief. “These pictures are disgusting, they are disgusting, above all they serve many anti-Semitic clichés”. It is thanks to the NDR researchers that they can now be seen and thus make history vivid.
The Nannen biographer Stephanie Nannen, granddaughter of the “Stern” founder, had emphasized in the Tagesspiegel last week that her grandfather had never been a member of the NSDAP and SS, but was a member of a Wehrmacht propaganda company involved in psychological warfare in Germany Italy to have been involved. In 2014, Nannen prize winner Jacob Appelbaum distanced himself from the namesake of the award and announced that he would have the prize sculpture melted down because of Nannen’s Nazi past.
A good week after the “Funk” release, “Stern” is now going on the offensive. “Every new finding, every new detail must lead to previous assessments being called into question again and again,” Schmitz sums up and announces: “That’s why we will be openly wrestling with the question in ‘Stern’ in the coming weeks as to how we can Person Nannen evaluate whether he can continue to be the namesake of a school where young journalists are trained, whether one of the most renowned media prizes bears his name and whether Henri Nannen should remain our founding editor in the imprint”.
The results of this research will be followed with at least as much interest as the reappraisal of the biggest Stern scandal to date, first with the podcast “Faking Hitler” and later with a TV series.