Lettre International

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Lettre International
Lettre Logo.jpg
description Culture magazine
publishing company Lettre International Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
First edition May 26, 1988
Frequency of publication quarterly
Sold edition 16,000-23,000 copies
Editor-in-chief Frank Berberich
Web link lettre.de
Article archive no full text, only selective keyword index

Lettre International is the German edition of the French publication Lettre Internationale, founded by Antonin J. Liehm in Paris in 1984 by Antonin J. Liehm , published by Frank Berberich as a cultural magazine since May 1988 in Berlin .


The first edition of the German Lettre International was presented on May 26, 1988 in West Berlin at the international writers' congress Ein Traum von Europa . Since then, the magazine has been published quarterly with a circulation of 23,000 copies, with special editions and special issues with up to 33,000 copies.

Frank Berberich and Antonin J. Liehm were joint editors-in-chief until autumn 2003 (issue 62) . Since then, Berberich has been the sole editor-in-chief and managing director of Verlags GmbH. For the first twelve issues, up to the spring of 1991, “Advertising and Advice” were in the hands of Michael Schirner's Düsseldorf advertising and project agency .

The magazine is 100% owned by Lettre International Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and is self-published. Lettre International was brought into being by Frank Berberich with start-up funding from taz, which he co-founded .

Content and profile

The "Lettre-Mobil" in a promotion campaign in 2009

On the basis of the basic understanding shared by all Lettre editions, the German edition developed conceptual components and an independent profile:

Journal as a forum and combinatorial science of the arts

Each edition of Lettre International is conceived as a combination of different types of text, art forms and themes, a composition of textual and visual contributions, an “attempt to think visual arts and politics together”.

World politics and history, philosophy and religion, literature and theater, film and opera, music and art, science and research, psychoanalysis and ethnology, ecology and economics are just as much a part of Lettre International's topics as architecture, astronomy, sport, nature, media, Eroticism, network culture or life style.

The articles published in Lettre International are generally German first publications; around 80 percent are translated from other languages.

Lettre International has published numerous authors for the first time in the German-speaking area, including Liao Yiwu (2007), Slavoj Žižek (1991), Eliot Weinberger (1995), Halford J. Mackinder (2018), Abdelwahab Meddeb (1989), Urvashi Butalia (1997 ), Suketu Mehta (1997), Wiliam Langewiesche (2001), Nicholas Shakespeare (1988), Mark Danner (2005), Zhoug Qing (2006), Michail Ryklin (1991) and Gohar Homayounpour (2013). Lettre's authors who regularly publish also include a. Bora Ćosić , Régis Debray , Volker Demuth , Svetlana Alexijewitsch , Marcel Hénaff , Pankaj Mishra , Enrique Vila-Matas , Yang Lian , Georges Nivat , Frank Raddatz , Jacques Rupnik , Priya Basil , Wallace Shawn , Jean-Luc Nancy , Tom Engelhardt , Georg Stefan Troller , Karl Schlögel , Raoul Schrott , Elif Batuman , Philippe Videlier , Roberto Scarpinato , Olga Slawnikowa , Patricia Görg , Alfred McCoy , Nedim Gürsel , Péter Nádas , Boris Groys .

Collaboration with artists

Cover pictures and other pages inside are designed exclusively by artists. Numerous international artists have shaped the magazine visually, including Jörg Immendorff , who designed the first issue, Miquel Barcelò (2004), Ai Weiwei (2009), Georg Baselitz (1989 and 2008), Sigmar Polke (1989), Rebecca Horn (1990) , Rosemarie Trockel (1994), Tobias Rehberger (2012 and 2018), Ilya Kabakov (1990), Marina Abramović (1993), AR Penck (1988), Jorinde Voigt (2015), Gerhard Richter (1996), Max Grüter (2003 and 2009) and Valérie Favre (2016).


The generous positioning of photography, photo portfolios and the use of conceptual, artistic, essayistic, documentary or reportage photography is one of the essential visual components of the magazine.

Contributions come from internationally known photographers such as Quentin Bertoux, Daniel Schwartz, Cristiana Garcia Rodero, Sebastião Salgado , Massimo Berruti, Rodrigo Abd, Graciela Iturbide , Tian Doan Na Champassak, JR , Hans Hansen , Paolo Pellegrin , Olafur Eliasson , Juan Manuel Castro Pietro, Matt Black, or Robert Longo .

Literary reports

The paper maintains the accentuation of the "stunted literary genre" in the German-speaking area, the literary travel report. Lettre discovered well-known representatives of this genre for the German-speaking area, including Amitav Ghosh , Nicolas Shakespeare , Isabel Hilton, Liao Yiwu and William Langewiesche . Between 2003 and 2006, on the initiative of Lettre and in partnership with the Goethe Institute , a world prize for the best literary report, the Lettre Ulysses Award , was presented for the first time .

Lettre Ulysses Award

In cooperation with the Aventis Foundation and the Goethe-Institut , Lettre International established an annual world prize for the best literary reports, the Lettre Ulysses Award, in 2003 . The prize, endowed with a total of 100,000 euros, was awarded four times until 2006 and has been suspended since then. Jury members from eleven language groups (German, English, French, Spanish, Turkish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, Chinese, Japanese) selected the best achievements in reportage literature.

  • In 2003 the Anna Politkovskaya Prize was awarded for her book Tchétchénie: Le déshonneur russe about the war in Chechnya .
  • In 2004, the Chinese author couple Wu Chuntao and Chen Guidi won the first prize endowed with 50,000 euros for the book A Survey on Chinese Peasants (on the situation of Chinese farmers).
  • In 2005, British author Alexandra Fuller was named for her book Scribbling the Cat. Travels with an African Soldier awarded first prize.
  • In 2006 the British writer Linda Grant received first prize for her book The People on the Street. A Writer's View of Israel .

Controversy over Sarrazin interview

The interview with Thilo Sarrazin , placed in LI 86, generated a lot of media attention and led to heated debates about the supposed racism of some of the statements made by the then Bundesbank executive board. In an interview for the magazine der Medienmacher, the editor, Frank Berberich , criticized the reaction of the mass media as “ dilettantism , politically correct phrases, misleading, big slogans.” The scandal that arose was caused by media interests and “the sensationalization and scandalization came before mainly staged by media who wanted to earn money with it, ”says Berberich. The interview was one of more than 40 contributions on the main topic “Berlin” and was not particularly highlighted either by explicit references in the editorial or to the press or by its placement - the interview can be found on page 197 of the 258-page booklet. The function of a sensationalist lead was only assigned to him after being scandalized from outside. Lettre International also got into a copyright conflict with Springer Verlag and its daily newspapers published in Berlin, which had made the interview a scandal. The Bild and other Springer newspapers not only used the interview several times for headlines, but also largely printed the text without permission, copied it and made it available online in full. Lettre International obtained an injunction and prepared a lawsuit for damages. On March 8, 2011, Springer-Verlag and Lettre International agreed on damage compensation of 60,000 euros. Patrick Bahners , at the time the head of the arts section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, complained: “As Sarrazin told his interviewer Frank Berberich in all seriousness, Berlin should be restructured by pushing the non-integrated away. 'The schools must be designed differently from bottom to top. This includes conveying to the underperformers that they should just as happily do nothing elsewhere. '”The writer and orientalist Navid Kermani claimed in 2012 that the cultural magazine had given an economic expert a forum“ with its completely consistent interview ”whose statements turned out to be“ true Treasure trove for the political work of the national-identity right “emerged. As a result, Lettre International achieved “more for the popularization of the nationalist nationalism to which Uwe Mundlos adhered than the National Socialist underground ”.

Art editions

With the sale of art editions, the publisher tried to support the editorial work financially. An art edition was created in 1992, 2011, 2012 and 2013.


Lettre International has received several awards for services to the international press landscape :

  • In 1997 the Lettre founder Antonin J. Liehm received the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding at the Leipzig Book Fair on behalf of the entire network .
  • In 2010, editor-in-chief Frank Berberich received the Prize for Culture Journalist of the Year 2009 from Medium Magazin .
  • On March 18, 2010, Frank Berberich received the Will Grohmann Prize from the Berlin Academy of the Arts .
  • In 2012 Stavros Papadopoulos received the LeadAward in bronze in the category “Reportage Photography of the Year” for his photo portfolio “Greece”, published in Lettre International 95 .
  • In 2018 Lettre International was awarded the Konrad Wolf Prize of the Berlin Academy of the Arts .


  • Roman Léandre Schmidt: Lettre internationale: History of a European magazine . Paderborn: Fink, 2017 ISBN 978-3-7705-6051-6

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Imprint, in: Lettre international: Europe's culture newspaper . (No. 1 ff.), Berlin 1988-2015.
  2. a b Sara Hoegen u. a .: Friedrichstrasse / Baltic Sea for Lettre International , Berlin 2006, pp. 41–51.
  3. ^ Journalistic madness . In: taz , June 2, 2008
  4. Nina Apin: "Lettre" magazine turns 20: Journalistic madness . In: The daily newspaper: taz . June 1, 2008, ISSN  0931-9085 ( taz.de [accessed October 10, 2018]).
  5. ^ "Lettre International": Arsenal of the Spirit . August 21, 2013 ( woz.ch [accessed October 10, 2018]).
  6. letters for the world . In: Der Tagesspiegel Online . June 12, 2008, ISSN  1865-2263 ( tagesspiegel.de [accessed October 10, 2018]).
  7. Gerrit Bartels: "Lettre International" celebrates its 30th anniversary . In: Der Tagesspiegel Online . June 12, 2018, ISSN  1865-2263 ( tagesspiegel.de [accessed October 10, 2018]).
  8. a b Online Archive Lettre International
  9. ^ "Lettre International": Arsenal of the Spirit . August 21, 2013 ( woz.ch [accessed October 10, 2018]).
  10. Gerrit Bartels: "Lettre International" celebrates its 30th anniversary . In: Der Tagesspiegel Online . June 12, 2018, ISSN  1865-2263 ( tagesspiegel.de [accessed October 10, 2018]).
  11. letters for the world . In: Der Tagesspiegel Online . June 12, 2008, ISSN  1865-2263 ( tagesspiegel.de [accessed October 10, 2018]).
  12. For pleasure readers and masochists. Retrieved October 10, 2018 .
  13. Overcoming the Boundaries | NZZ . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . April 9, 2013, ISSN  0376-6829 ( nzz.ch [accessed October 10, 2018]).
  14. ^ Deutsche Welle (www.dw.com): The best report in the world | DW | 07/10/2003. Retrieved October 10, 2018 .
  15. a b c V.iSdP, amateurism, phrases, deception, slogans. October 26, 2009, accessed June 6, 2018 .
  16. Sarrazin interview: "Lettre" magazine demands compensation from "Bild" . In: Spiegel Online . October 27, 2009 ( spiegel.de [accessed June 6, 2018]).
  17. 60,000 euros for a stolen Sarrazin interview - BILDblog. Retrieved June 6, 2018 .
  18. DWDL.de GmbH: Interview-Klau: "Image"; must pay 60,000 euros - DWDL.de . In: DWDL.de . ( dwdl.de [accessed on June 6, 2018]).
  19. Patrick Bahners: The alarmists. The German fear of Islam - a polemic. CH Beck, Munich 2011, p. 24. ISBN 978-3-406-61645-7
  20. Navid Kermani, Forget Germany! A patriotic speech at the opening of the Hamburg Lessingtage 2012. Ullstein, Berlin 2012.
  21. The Journalists of 2009 . In: Medium Magazin online on December 21, 2009, accessed on January 14, 2010.
  22. ^ Akademie der Künste , accessed February 1, 2013
  23. Lead Award winner 2012