Kiepenheuer & Witsch

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Publishing house Kiepenheuer & Witsch GmbH & Co KG

legal form GmbH & Co. KG
founding 1948
Seat Cologne
management Kerstin Gleba , Claudia Häußermann
Branch publishing company

The publishing house Kiepenheuer & Witsch , founded in 1948, is a German general-interest publisher based in Cologne , which publishes critical and popular non-fiction books as well as literary works by renowned as well as young writers . The works of over 500 authors are currently being published. Since 1982 the publisher has had its own series of paperbacks , the KiWi Paperbacks , since 2000 as the regional imprint »KiWi Cologne«, a series specializing in books from and about the Rhineland , and since 2007 the Berlin imprint Galiani Berlin. The largest editorial company in publishing history is the text-critical and commented Cologne edition of the works of Heinrich Böll , which began in 2002 and the 27th and last volume of which appeared in autumn 2010.


The founding meeting of the publishing house took place on November 27, 1948 in front of the notary Walter Meyer in Hagen. Gustav Kiepenheuer was ill and had himself represented by a notary. The founders divided the shares in the share capital of DM 100,000 as follows: Gustav Kiepenheuer held 40 percent, Joseph C. Witsch 30 percent. Further shareholders with 10 percent each were Witsch's friend Fritz Breuer , the Hagen entrepreneur Adalbert Borgers and the British officer and local commander of the British military government F. Peter Alexander. After Kiepenheuer's death in 1949, the shareholders separated from the Gustav Kiepenheuer publishing house in Weimar . Witsch took over the shares in the Jena start-up. After changing offices, the publishing house acquired its own publishing house in Cologne-Marienburg in 1953 . In 1956 a theater publisher was affiliated, which operates in Berlin under the name Gustav Kiepenheuer Bühnenvertrieb.

Witsch's first publishing achievement was the new edition of the works of Joseph Roth , started in 1949 with his last novel, The Legend of the Holy Drinker , and (temporarily) completed in 1956 with the work edition edited by Hermann Kesten . The novel Marion by Vicki Baum was published in 1951 as the first book by Kiepenheuer & Witsch.

Shortly thereafter, Annemarie Selinko achieved her first major sales success with the novel Désirée and, alongside Wolfgang Leonhard, is a classic from the early history of the publisher with The Revolution Releases Her Children (1955) . Heinrich Böll became the publisher's author in 1953 with And Said Not a Single Word and its first Nobel Prize winner in 1972 , which was to be followed by more: Saul Bellow , Czesław Miłosz , Patrick White , Gabriel García Márquez , Dario Fo and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio .

In the 1960s, the publisher gained an ambitious poetry program, the New Realism proclaimed by the editor Dieter Wellershoff - himself both scientifically and literary - and with authors such as Rolf Dieter Brinkmann , Nicolas Born and Günter Herburger recognition as a leading publisher for contemporary German literature. The first non-fiction books have now also been published, initially in the New Scientific Library series , later reinforced by the Study Library .

After the death of Joseph C. Witsch in 1967, Reinhold Neven DuMont took over the publishing management. On April 19, 1969, Neven DuMont became the owner of the Kiepenheuer & Witsch publishing house, which kept the name and program. Almost all authors could be kept, and new authors were added in the course of the 1968 movement , e.g. B. Wilhelm Reich , Ronald D. Laing and Charles Bukowski . The pocket series was founded for the new socially critical literature (on topics such as anti-authoritarian education , life in communes , marginalized social groups ) . With the first books by Günter Wallraff and several black books as well as Böll's Bild - Bonn - Boenisch , the "small" publishing house took on the "Goliaths" of the German establishment , such as the Springer empire or the CSU under Franz Josef Strauss .

In the 1980s, on the one hand, the paperback series KiWi was launched (1982), and on the other hand, the cultural optimism in West and East was captured, not least with the new series Art Today , which helped to spread the ideas of Joseph Beuys , Georg Baselitz and other artists .

In the fall of 1989, the publisher, Neven DuMont, faced accusations of cowardice because he refused to publish Salman Rushdie's novel, " Die Satanischen Verse ", for fear of assault , whose German rights he acquired in the summer of 1988 would have.

After the fall of the Wall in 1989, the publishing house concentrated on maintaining its in- house authors (in addition to Böll, Roth, Wellershoff and García Márquez, for example Peter Härtling , Uwe Timm , Nathalie Sarraute , Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio , Don DeLillo ) with new editions of works To sharpen your profile through more critical selection and still keep your finger on the pulse: to hire good new authors in all areas.

The publisher brought out around 80 books a year and employed around 25 people.

Since 2002 Kiepenheuer & Witsch has belonged to the Georg von Holtzbrinck publishing group via Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart . The publisher has been Helge Malchow since 2002 . He was replaced by Kerstin Gleba in 2019 .

The publisher's archive was handed over to the Cologne City Archive; When the city archive collapsed in 2009 , most of the holdings were either lost or significantly damaged.


The fiction program by Kiepenheuer & Witsch was and is, in addition to those mentioned above, by authors such as Don DeLillo , Erich Maria Remarque , Breyten Breytenbach , Jean Giono , Ignazio Silone , Jerome D. Salinger , John le Carré , Erik Fosnes Hansen , VS Naipaul , Jean -Marie Gustave Le Clézio , Uwe Timm and Katja Lange-Müller .

In recent years, other English-language authors such as John Banville , Julian Barnes , Michael Chabon , Bret Easton Ellis , Dave Eggers , Jonathan Safran Foer , Nick McDonell , Nick Hornby , David Foster Wallace and Irvine Welsh have found their home in the Cologne publishing house as well as their young ones German-speaking colleagues Maxim Biller , Michael Kumpfmüller , Sibylle Berg , Malin Schwerdtfeger , Feridun Zaimoglu , Benjamin Lebert , Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre , Joachim Lottmann , Thomas Hettche , Katharina Hagena , Eva Menasse , Christian Kracht , Volker Kutscher and Kathrin Schmidt .

The non-fiction program includes other well-known names such as Ralph Giordano , Joschka Fischer , Heiner Geißler , Carola Stern , Alice Schwarzer , Gerd Koenen , Necla Kelek , Hans Weiss (with his bestseller Bitter Pills ), Helmut Schmidt , Christoph Schlingensief and Ranga Yogeshwar .

Audience favorites from the entertainment industry such as Mario Adorf , Senta Berger , Alfred Biolek , Renan Demirkan , Dieter Hildebrandt , Heike Makatsch , Helge Schneider , Elke Heidenreich , Christine Westermann , Jörg Thadeusz , Harald Schmidt , Manuel Andrack and Michael Mittermeier as well as the bestselling authors Frank Schätzing , Monika Peetz and Bastian Sick write for Kiepenheuer & Witsch.


A small, annually redesigned work of art, the translator's bar , was awarded by the Association of German-Language Translators of Literary and Scientific Works , VdÜ, in 2013 to a K&W editor, Bärbel Flad. For over 30 years she was responsible for world authors such as Don DeLillo, Gabriel García Márquez, Nathalie Sarraute, Julian Barnes and many others. Countless translators into German and their translations have benefited from working with her.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Frank Möller: The book Witsch: The dizzying life of the publisher Joseph Caspar Witsch. A biography . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2014, ISBN 978-3-462-30734-4 , pp. 346 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  2. Frank Möller: Joseph Caspar Witsch - As a librarian and publisher between Jena and Cologne , in: The big city: the cultural-historical archive of Weimar-Jena Vol. 2, 2009, pp. 117–142, here p. 130
  3. Curt Vinz et al. Günter Olzog: Documentation of German-language publishers. Olzog, Munich / Vienna 1983, p. 213.
  4. Religious warriors among themselves - SPIEGEL editor Willi Winkler on the "Satanic Verses" Spiegel, October 16, 1989
  5. Source: Reinhold Neven DuMont in conversation with Jochanan Shelliem in hr2-kultur (“Doppel-Kopf”), October 6, 2009
  6. Book Festival: Back to the Upper Class with Reinhold Neven DuMont's "Villa" , Schwäbisches Tagblatt, May 25, 2009 ( Memento from October 9, 2013 in the web archive )