War history recast

Bertelsmann's report finds closer Nazi ties

BERLIN — Interim findings from a report on the ties between German media conglom Bertelsmann and the Nazi regime have revealed that there were tighter connections than previously known.

The report, which was commissioned by Bertelsmann itself, in an attempt to clarify its corporate history in the wake of a controversial report by a German journalist, was led by the Israeli historian Saul Friedlaender.

One myth dispelled through the findings is the Bertelsmann assertion that the company was shut down in 1944 due to the publishing of religious texts that ran contrary to Nazi beliefs.

According to the report, the company was more likely shut down due to war-time shortages.

Bertelsmann regrets

Bertelsmann responded by saying it was sorry that this fact was not known before and that, as a result, its corporate history had been, in part, misinterpreted.

According to the report, Bertelsmann provided Hitler’s army with over a quarter of the publications used by soldiers, and thus attained its goal of becoming the biggest provider to the Wehrmacht.

Top-ranked Bertelsmann officials were Nazi party members, and the then-chairman Heinrich Mohn was a backer of the SS.

It remains unclear if this was through necessity. Mohn was not required to swear allegiance to Hitler or be an active party member.

One historian working on the report concluded that Bertelsmann published texts that ran against the Nazi creed, but it also published some that sought solidarity with it.

Bertelsmann said, in a statement, that it regrets not having had the facts earlier.

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