Anton Betz

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Anton Betz

Anton Betz (born February 23, 1893 in St. Ingbert , † December 11, 1984 in Düsseldorf ) was a German journalist , publisher and publicist .


Anton Betz comes from a Catholic working-class household in St. Ingbert , then Bavaria (Palatinate) , to which he has always remained connected. According to his words, people in his hometown stick to their old ways, are robust and open, like to make big plans that they can forget painlessly the next day. [...] He is undemanding and very pious ”. Looking back, he describes his father and trained mastermind Hansjoseph Betz (1859–1925) in a similar way. Hansjoseph Betz became head master at the St. Ingbert iron works at the age of 45 and was close to the Catholic center . Betz's mother, Anna Betz (1865–1932), was tasked with caring for her own three children and then six foster children with the low earnings that the father brought home.


In these financial circumstances, a higher education was actually out of the question. After a very well completed elementary school , a chaplain took him on and encouraged him to be accepted into the St. Ingbert Progymnasium , where he stayed until he was one year old. Afterwards, he tried to get him to work in the administrative office of the ironworks, as his father tried, but failed because of his politically contrary attitude towards the Protestant factory management.

It is thanks to a Capuchin priest that the now 18-year-old was able to switch to the humanistic Ignaz-Günther-Gymnasium in Rosenheim after the 1911 summer vacation . In Rosenheim he discovered the “fascination of newspapers” by buying several newspapers of the most varied colors at the train station every Saturday and studying them carefully. During the summer vacation of 1913 he was able to represent a sick editor of the Westpfälzische Zeitung in his hometown of St. Ingbert .

On December 1, 1914, Betz was called up to war. In February and March 1915 he took part in the winter battle in Masuria and, as he did later on the Western Front, learned about the horrors of war. Of the 19 comrades who graduated from high school, 13 had died. But the political upheavals with workers 'and soldiers' councils also made him think. He later confessed: "That was no longer the old world".

Between the Abitur and the draft, Betz was still able to enroll in Würzburg to study law and political science, where in June 1916 he was also a member of the Catholic student association KDSt.V. Gothia Würzburg in the CV . In the summer semester of 1920 he continued his studies in Freiburg , now in the subjects of constitutional and administrative law, legal history and legal philosophy. In 1924 he received his doctorate in Bonn . In addition to his studies, he also managed to work as a journalist by starting as an editorial trainee at the "Saarbrücker Landeszeitung" and was taken on as assistant editor a little later. His marriage on March 29, 1921 earned him a full job.


First steps

Betz soon realized that politically one-sided newspapers like "his" Saarbrücker Landeszeitung were no longer up to date. Many papers, especially Catholic ones, had perished. In his view, journalistic quality was more important than political orientation. He felt the political line of these papers as "penetrating, journalistically unprofessional and monotonous". He also refused to accept the charge that a newspaper that provided information beyond the narrow boundaries of party and church was fundamentally lacking in character. He published his opinion on this topic in the brochure "Inhibitions in the construction of the central press of the Saar region".

His professional advancement began when he left the regional newspaper in 1923. Now, at the age of 30, he felt enough strength and experience to be able to survive as editor-in-chief of the "Saar-Zeitung" in Saarlouis , which was also founded in 1872 and is also close to the center . He brought the paper, which had become French during the French occupation, back on the German course and switched to modern rotary printing .

Bavarian stations

In September 1925 he was appointed to the board of directors and publishing director of the "United Printing, Art and Publishing Companies AG Dillingen-Munich" in Dillingen an der Donau , which operated several printing works in Dillingen and Munich . Chairman of the supervisory board was Dr. Georg Heim. In 1929 the stock corporation was bought by Manz AG in Munich. This strictly Catholic house published almost exclusively Catholic literature such as the monthly “Prediger u. Catechist". As a member of the Management Board of Manz AG, Betz now managed the merged printing works with over 400 employees. In the following year, the neighboring and much larger company Knorr & Hirth-Verlag noticed Betz during the funeral speech at the funeral of the publishing director of Manz AG and was spontaneously poached. There he became managing director and publishing director, i.e. successor to Dr. Otto Pflaum , who died in June 1930. Betz also became a member of the supervisory board.

Knorr & Hirth had 1,400 employees and Betz's work now had the generous scope that he had always wanted. He also got direct contact with the Ruhrlade , a largely secret union of 12 large industrialists in the Rheinisch-Westphalian industrial area . The members of the supervisory board of Knorr & Hirth were Paul Reusch , Gutehoffnungshütte in Oberhausen , Karl Haniel , Düsseldorf, and Ernst Brandi , Gelsenkirchener Bergwerks-AG . Two thirds of the Bavarian newspaper was determined by men from the Rhenish-Westphalian industry .

These men had little knowledge of newspaper making. The reduction of the publisher's debt burden in the years 1930-1932 from 10 million to 2.8 million Reichsmarks created a lot of trust for Betz; they gave him a free hand in shaping his work. In 1931, at a conference in Vienna, he was also appointed chairman of the Reich Association of German Newspaper Publishers .

time of the nationalsocialism

With the seizure of power of the Nazis fluctuated mainly in the Supervisory Board set the mood for the "neutral" publishing house. The first important editors were arrested on the night of March 10th to 11th, 1933. Editor-in-chief Büchner, one of the most important pillars for Betz in the editorial office, was arrested shortly afterwards; Betz himself was initially spared.

As of mid-March, the editorial team split in two: the majority wanted to continue as before and stood firmly by Büchner, the smaller number of editors wanted to work with the new rulers. The driving force behind the turnaround was Karl Haniel, who visited Himmler in Munich at the end of March and assured him that the supervisory board would work together. The next day, Betz was arrested, his office and study were searched, and correspondence was confiscated. The arrest warrant was personally signed by Himmler. In a public lecture in 1958, Betz retroactively attacked large-scale industry: “The two do not match. ... It was clear to us that the industry could not stop March 1933, but it did not even try to use its great personal and material connections for us. "

While in custody, he was given immediate notice by the publisher, which had since been closed. When he was released from prison in November 1933, he had a personal release interview with Himmler, who told him: "You have backed the wrong horse."

After his imprisonment, he first went to Gersheim in the Saarland (then Saarland ), where his wife lived with their parents with their two oldest daughters. Three years later he moved with her to a newly built house in Rohrbach , the birthplace of Betz's mother. The youngest daughter was born here in 1936. Betz was initially unemployed; In mid-1936, because of his good contacts, he received a job offer in the advertising and sales business of the Frankfurter Zeitung for the Rhineland-Westphalia area - at 600 Reichsmarks per month, well below his previous income. His good contacts with his former colleagues on the supervisory board, Brandi, Haniel and Reusch, brought him lucrative advertising contracts that would have been unattainable for a pure advertising seller. His reputation with the Frankfurter Zeitung rose so tremendously.

Betz moved with his family to Essen in 1937 and a year later to Düsseldorf-Derendorf , where he found a new home in the long term.

At the beginning of the Second World War, Betz was also called up. Due to his age, he was deployed to the motor vehicle procurement commission in Düsseldorf; Later he switched to the armaments industry at the United Steel Works , where he administered donations and worked in the "Aircraft Damage Removal" department. In September 1944 he was sent to the Western Front for a few days in the Volkssturm . American soldiers captured him in Wuppertal-Dornap .

New sphere of activity in Düsseldorf

After interrogations with American and English press officers , there were soon talks about the establishment of new German newspapers. Betz was politically unencumbered and already in July 1945 got the editorial office of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in Düsseldorf, which was published by the British . This made Betz one of the first German press representatives after the war.

The management team of the newspaper, the later North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Karl Arnold , the lawyer Erich Wenderoth , editor-in-chief Friedrich Vogel and the publishing director Anton Betz created their own newspaper, which worked without British control and soon became its license holder. On February 26, 1946, the British Major General WHA Bishop issued the first newspaper licenses in the British zone at a ceremony, including the one for the CDU-affiliated Rheinische Post (RP). The first edition of the RP appeared on March 2, 1946.

Further stations of his professional and political work:

Betz was President of the Association of German Newspaper Publishers from 1963 to 1967 .


Anton Betz Foundation

The Anton Betz Foundation was set up in 1971 by the Rheinische Post. It promotes science and research ideally and materially and networks them with the public. It also promotes civic initiatives for local history research and the preservation of cultural heritage. Since 1985 it has been run by Betz's daughter Esther Betz .

Street name

One street in Düsseldorf-Bilk has been called Anton-Betz-Strasse since August 2005 .

Web links


  • Karl Bringmann, Max Nitzsche , Fritz Ramjoué (eds.): Festschrift for Anton Betz. Rheinisch-Bergische Druckerei- und Verlagsgesellschaft, Düsseldorf 1963.
  • Anton Betz: The tragedy of the “Münchner Neuesten Nachrichten” 1932/33 ; in: Emil Dovifat: Karl Bringmann (Ed.): Journalism . Düsseldorf, 1961, volume 2, page 34 ff
  • Peter Henkel: Anton Betz: A publisher between Weimar and Bonn, düsseldorf university press, Düsseldorf 2011; ISBN 978-3-940671-48-6


  1. a b c d Ulrich Fohrmann: Anton Betz; in: Saarländische Lebensbilder, Volume 4, edited. by Peter Neumann, Saarbrücker Druckerei und Verlag, 1989, ISBN 3-925036-20-2
  2. cf. on this: Richard Baumann: Gothia sei's Panier. 100 years of KDStV Gothia zu Würzburg in CV 1895-1995, Würzburg 1995.
  3. ^ Anton Betz: Zeit und Zeitung: Notes from eight decades, 1893-1973, Droste-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1973, page 133
  4. ^ Auction house Gutowski , description of lot 990 from July 2007.
  5. ^ Peter Henkel: Anton Betz: A publisher between Weimar and Bonn , Düsseldorf 2011
  6. Rheinische Post press report of August 24, 2005  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /