Dr. René Moehrle - German Leitmedien and the suppressed nationalsocialist heritage. Journalists between continuity, paradigm changes and a new start

Dr. René Moehrle - German Leitmedien and the suppressed nationalsocialist heritage. Journalists between continuity, paradigm changes and a new start
Activity Date: 
Monday, May 8, 2017

German publishers, editors and journalists, who had made a carrier in the nationalsocialist era, continued their work after 1945. The old elite remained the new elite. Even though continuity is a known fact in the history of system changes, it has a special significance for the democratic process in Western Germany 1945-1962. Because only at the end of this timeframe and with the famous Spiegel-Affair, leading German newspapers (Leitmedien) substituted former NS-propagandists and journalists with a young and critical generation, initiating the ´68 movement. However and until this moment, the democratic process had been a success already.
How was it possible that SS-officials, employees of the Propaganda Ministry as well as NSDAP-members made newspapers as Spiegel, Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung etc. the liberal, democratic and investigative journals they are today while cherishing parts of the “former” nationalsocialist ideology?
The analysis, both of the staff and the language of German Leitmedien, shows that for example antisemitic stereotypes were rarer but almost as accepted as anticommunist slogans that continued existing under the new political conditions of the Cold War. At the same time, case studies in the mentioned print media underline the ambivalence of the democratic integration process in Western Germany after 1945, which offered continuities as well as democratic changes for its readers. The freedom of press in Germany is well accepted and represented by the high quality of the leading journals that nevertheless continue to block every serious attempt of elaborating their nationalsocialist past that made them the most selling and profitable papers of their kind in Germany of today.