Extension of research contract with Institute of Contemporary History to
investigate the history of “Stern” magazine
Bertelsmann guarantees independence of and full support for research work
Gütersloh / Hamburg, February 24, 2023 – Bertelsmann has commissioned an academic
review of the company’s handling of the forged Hitler diaries. To this end, the international
media, services and education company is expanding an existing research contract with the
renowned Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich.
Back in August 2022, the Bertelsmann Executive Board had commissioned the IfZ to conduct an independent review of the history of “Stern” magazine. The present historical analysis by the IfZ will take several years, and its results will be published in full. In the course of the research project, all historically relevant documents from Gruner + Jahr and “Stern” will be transferred to
Bertelsmann’s Corporate Archive in Gütersloh.
Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe said: “The publication of the forged Hitler
diaries in April 1983 forms a chapter of its own in the history of ‘Stern’. We believe it is
necessary to have the handling of the discovery, evaluation, and publication of the forged
diaries at Gruner + Jahr and Bertelsmann academically reviewed. I am very pleased that the
Institute of Contemporary History, in its capacity as an independent partner, is prepared to
devote special attention to this aspect as part of its research into the history of ‘Stern’ story
that is already underway. We will fully support this part of the IfZ’s scientific work as well.”
The IfZ is already investigating, on behalf of Bertelsmann, the period from the founding of
“Stern” by Henri Nannen in 1948 until his departure in 1983. With this analysis, Bertelsmann
seeks to make an objective, academic, and lasting contribution to the recently rekindled
discussion about longtime “Stern” editor-in-chief Henri Nannen (1913-1996). Now the
research period and subject matter have been extended to include a historical analysis of the
handling of the forged Hitler diaries, to obtain an objective picture of how and why it was
possible for the forgery to be published.
The research work is being carried out by the Deputy Director of the Institute of
Contemporary History, Prof. Dr. Magnus Brechtken, who is a recognized expert in examining
the legacy of National Socialism. The Institute of Contemporary History has already
successfully conducted numerous studies of this kind. On Bertelsmann’s side, the project is
being supported by the Corporate Archive, which is part of the Group’s Corporate
The first issue of “Stern” was published on August 1, 1948 by the newly founded SternVerlag Henri Nannen. Since 1965, Stern has been published by Gruner + Jahr GmbH & Co.
KG, which was newly founded at that time. Bertelsmann first acquired 25 percent of Gruner +
Jahr in 1969, and increased this stake to 74.9 percent by 1976. In 2014, Bertelsmann
acquired the remaining shares and became the sole owner. Since January 1, 2022, Gruner +
Jahr has been part of RTL Deutschland.
In 1998, Bertelsmann became one of the first media companies in Germany to commission
an Independent Historical Commission (IHC) to research the company’s history during the
National Socialist era. After more than three years of research, the IHC presented its report,
“Bertelsmann in the Third Reich,” which was published by C. Bertelsmann Verlag in 2002.
The IHC’s collection of files forms the cornerstone of the Bertelsmann Corporate Archive,
which was established in 2003.
Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in about 50 countries around the world. It includes the entertainment group RTL Group, the trade book publisher Penguin Random House, the music company BMG, the service provider Arvato, the Bertelsmann Printing Group, the Bertelsmann Education Group and Bertelsmann Investments, an international network of funds. The company has 145,000 employees and generated revenues of €18.7 billion in the 2021 financial year.