License newspaper

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A licensed newspaper was a newspaper that had the necessary publication permit ( license ) from the military administration in Germany after the Second World War .

Newspaper type

In contrast to the Army Group Press, which was initially published by the military in 1945/1946 , licensed newspapers were once again responsible and published by Germans for the first time after the war. These sheets mark the resumption of German press activities. However, unlicensed newspapers remained banned until freedom of the press was granted in 1949.

The fact that a license was absolutely necessary to publish a newspaper was intended to prevent the uncontrolled creation of newspapers. In this way, should journalists and publishers of the media are kept away, already during the Nazi worked there and therefore in disseminating as complicit Nazi - propaganda had been classified. Since the license could be withdrawn at any time without any problems, the license obligation also opened up good opportunities to discipline and control the licensed newspapers or their editors and publishers .

While the French allies made use of their pre-censorship rights until 1947, the Americans and British waived it towards the end of 1945. However, the newspapers had to be submitted to the responsible press officers for re-censorship (see also censorship and self-censorship ). This also applied to the Soviet occupation zone and later in the GDR , where the license requirement was supposed to prevent the publication of unwanted newspapers (see also: Censorship in the GDR ). Since the license was also accompanied by specifications on the number of newspaper editions and the number of copies, the GDR press office, as the core authority of the state media administration, also had control over the expansion possibilities of the GDR daily newspapers . Above all, this limited the importance of the newspapers of the bloc parties . Although licenses were also required for the GDR newspapers, these newspapers are not referred to as licensed newspapers to distinguish them from the western zonal press (presumably for political reasons) .

Because of the shortage of paper after the Second World War , the newspaper size was very limited (4–8 pages). Often the newspapers appeared only two or three times a week. For reasons of space, they mostly contained only a few advertisements . In addition to newspapers, magazines and other media also required a license.

First licensed newspapers


Even before the capitulation of the German Reich, the American occupying power made the first attempt to install newspapers published by Germans in the occupied part of Germany. After the conquest of Aachen in mid-October 1944, the US Army began preparing for the licensing of a newspaper: the printing works of the former Aachen daily newspaper Aachener Anzeiger - Politisches Tageblatt was confiscated. The 68-year-old Social Democrat Heinrich Holland received permission to publish the Aachener Nachrichten , which first appeared on January 24, 1945. However, the editorial team initially consisted exclusively of members of the army.

The experiment found no imitators in the last days of the war. The only print medium in the occupied territories was the “notifications” of the respective army groups and later those of the local army group newspapers, each of which was produced without German responsibility.

First licensed newspapers in the occupation zones

Soviet occupation zone : The first license was issued to the Berliner Zeitung in May 1945 . Furthermore, there were the first licenses for the newspaper of the KPD Deutsche Volkszeitung (June 13, 1945) and the people (July 7, 1945), from which the New Germany emerged on April 23, 1946 .

American occupation zone : The Frankfurter Rundschau followed on August 1, 1945 , the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung in Heidelberg on September 5 , the Stuttgarter Zeitung on September 18 and the Weser-Kurier on September 19 . With license no. 1 (the news control of the Military Government East ), the Süddeutsche Zeitung appeared in Munich for the first time on October 6, 1945 .

British occupation zone : Here the first license was given by the Aachener Nachrichten (already formlessly approved by the US Army on January 24th , 1945), the next licenses followed six months later, namely on January 8th, 1946 by the Braunschweiger Newspaper and on January 15th the Lüneburger Landeszeitung (today the regional newspaper for the Lüneburger Heide ).

French occupation zone : Here on August 8, 1945 the Badener Tagblatt (Baden-Baden) was the first to receive a license, followed by the Saarbrücker Zeitung (August 27, 1945) and the Südkurier from Konstanz (September 7, 1945).


While the licensees in all zones of occupation had in common that they - with rare exceptions - were not allowed to work for the Nazi media between 1933 and 1945 and were therefore unencumbered in the new post-war press, the individual allies also pursued different goals when awarding the licenses . In particular, these should serve for re- education .

The USA set up an independent, non-partisan press and therefore issued the licenses to a small group of publishers with different political backgrounds (so-called “group newspapers”).

The British military government wanted the German population to practice democracy by comparing newspapers with different political colors. For this reason, newspapers with different party commitments (“party direction newspapers”) were approved. As with the party-affiliated newspapers in other zones, party-affiliated personalities acted as licensees, but not the parties themselves. (This affiliated press re-established the SPD's media ownership - previously interrupted by the NSDAP (see DDVG ).) Regions as well as at the beginning and towards the end of the license phase, however, also non-partisan newspapers (such as Lüneburger Landeszeitung or Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung ) were given a license.

The French approved both non-partisan and pro-party newspapers.

In the Soviet occupation zone, mainly party-affiliated newspapers were produced, but some non-partisan papers (e.g. the Abendpost in Erfurt or the Tagespost in Potsdam) were approved, but the latter, unlike the party papers, was discontinued by the early 1950s at the latest.

End of license requirement

In West Germany the general license was issued on September 21, 1949, and anyone with the necessary resources could start a newspaper again . In the Soviet Zone and the GDR , a state license was required to publish a newspaper until the fall of 1989 .

After the license requirement ended, there was a strong, but only brief, increase in the number of newspapers from 1949 in the young Federal Republic as well as in East Germany from 1989 and thus to a variety of press.

In West Germany, most of the newspapers that were (re) created after the license obligation ended were founded by the so-called old publishers . These newspaper entrepreneurs were considered by the occupying powers to be burdened and unsuitable for publishing tasks because of the publication of newspapers during the 3rd Reich. Between 1945 and 1949 they were automatically excluded from licensing and were banned from working .

The fact that the licensed newspapers were on the market earlier than the start-ups gave them a decisive competitive advantage both in the 1950s in West Germany and in the 1990s in East Germany, so that they were usually able to prevail against later start-ups.

From the 1990s onwards, mainly new foundations were made in East Germany by members of the citizens' movement and / or West German local publishers.

“License press” as a right-wing radical battle term

In right-wing and right-wing extremist circles, the word “licensed press” is used to this day for the German media landscape. It is meant to suggest a continuity of intentions and responsible for managing the occupation to this day and the free press so as a further directly or indirectly by the victorious powers supposedly or behind those standing masterminds ( "International plutocracy ", " east coast ") controlled, the " re-education " represent serving apparatus .

Licensed newspapers in Austria

In Austria, too, the Allies tied the reappearance of a domestic press to the receipt of licenses (also referred to as "permits" in Austrian press historiography). Licensees were in each case - also with the party newspapers - individuals or small groups.

Unlike in Germany, however, party newspapers were approved in all occupation zones. In addition, the remaining army group papers Wiener Kurier , Salzburger Nachrichten , Oberösterreichische Nachrichten and Tiroler Tageszeitung were converted into non-party newspapers by the Americans and French. In the US and French zones, the three party newspapers of the SPÖ , KPÖ and ÖVP were each given an independent paper in the individual federal states . In the British and Soviet zones, there was no bipartisan press approval. The British occupying power had tried to put its army group papers Neue Steirische Zeitung and Kärntner Nachrichten in Austrian hands as a supplement to the party press, but failed with this plan due to the resistance of the parties. On the other hand, both non-partisan and party newspapers emerged in all allied sectors of the capital Vienna.

Overall, the development of the Austrian license press is still awaiting research. Responsibility for the issuing of licenses was transferred - differently in the individual zones - by the Allies from November 1946 (British zone) to Austrian authorities. (In the US zone this happened on June 30, 1947.)


  • Konrad Dussel : German daily press in the 19th and 20th centuries. LIT-Verlag, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-6811-7 ( Introductions. Communication Science 1), In Google Books .
  • Ulrike Harmat: The Allied Media Policy and the Austrian Daily Press 1945–1955. In: Gabriele Melischek et al. (Ed.), Josef Seethaler: The Vienna daily newspapers. A documentation. Volume 5: 1945-1955. With an overview of the Austrian daily press of the Second Republic up to 1998. (Series title: Publications of historical press documentation ). Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1999, ISBN 3-631-33036-7 , pp. 57-96.
  • Harold Hurwitz: The zero hour of the German press. American press policy in Germany 1945–1949. Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1972, ISBN 3-8046-8450-5 .
  • Kurt Koszyk: Press Policy for Germans 1945–1949. Colloquium Verlag, Berlin 1986, ISBN 3-7678-0663-0 ( History of the German Press 4 = treatises and materials for journalism 10).
  • Stefan Matysiak: The development of the East German daily press after 1945. Break or transition? Diss., Göttingen 2004, here as download (7.2 MB; PDF).
  • Hermann Meyn : Mass Media in Germany. New edition. UVK, Konstanz 2001, ISBN 3-89669-299-2 .
  • Eva-Juliane Welsch: The Hessian license holders and their newspapers. Diss., Dortmund 2002, here as download (1.2 MB).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Eva-Juliane Welsch: The Hessian licensees and their newspapers, Diss. 2002, pp. 17-25
  2. Märkische Oderzeitung 1./2. August 2015, p. 8

Web links