Ullstein publishing house

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Ullstein book publishers are based on Friedrichstrasse in Berlin-Mitte

The Ullstein publishing house in 1877 by the publisher Leopold Ullstein in Berlin founded. Originally a pure newspaper publisher, since 1903 it has also included books in the fiction and non-fiction area. Today two companies operate under the name Ullstein: newspaper publisher BZ Ullstein GmbH as a subsidiary of Axel Springer SE and Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH as a subsidiary of the Swedish media company Bonnier .


The time of the Ullstein family

The owl from Ullstein Verlag, Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse 52, in Berlin-Kreuzberg

Leopold Ullstein , born in Fürth in 1826 , moved to Berlin in 1855 and founded a paper wholesaler there. In 1871 he was elected to the Berlin city council as a local politician for the liberal progress party. He regretted that the Progress Party in the Reich capital did not have any well-disposed publication organs and seized the first opportunity to buy a newspaper: on July 14, 1877, he bought the Neue Berliner Tageblatt , an unsuccessful offshoot of Rudolf's upper -class, liberal Berliner Tageblatt Mosse . Its authors included journalists such as the columnists Alfred Kerr and Theodor Wolff . Three months later he converted the daily newspaper into the evening paper Deutsche Union , before he gave it up and from January 1, 1878 let it go into the Berliner Zeitung , which he had taken over shortly before from its founder Peter Langmann.

In 1891 Ullstein created a type of press that was previously unknown in Germany: the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung . With lots of drawings and photos, she addressed women in particular, but also delighted their men with love-and-crime stories. Ullstein also started the Berliner Morgenpost , which grew to become the largest daily newspaper in Germany. In 1899, the year Leopold Ullstein died, the Morgenpost had around 160,000 subscribers on the Berlin press market. Contrary to custom, they did not pay their delivery fee monthly, but weekly and received receipts that consisted of a series of pictures and were therefore very popular with the children. After Ullstein's death in 1899, his five sons took over the company.

“Their motto was political liberalism and modern culture,” wrote Arthur Koestler about the Ullsteins. “They were anti-militaristic, anti-chauvinist and European in the best sense of the word; the great wave of Franco-German friendship of the Briand-Stresemann era was partly due to the influence of the Ullstein press. The Ullstein house was a political power and at the same time the embodiment of the progressive and cosmopolitan spirit of the Weimar Republic . "

After the street sale of newspapers was permitted in 1904 and Louis Ullstein had modernized the production processes based on the American model, the basis for a new type of newspaper was laid in Germany: BZ am Mittag (BZ) is Germany's first tabloid and the “fastest newspaper of the world".

Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, the sons succeeded in taking over the 210-year-old Vossische Zeitung , which was considered a serious paper and had a readership among civil servants and intellectuals. It was considered to be politically inclined towards the Democratic Party, while the Berliner Morgenpost, founded in 1898, was more closely related to the Social Democrats.

The Mopo maintained a high level of reader loyalty, particularly through intensive use of reader surveys and discussions, as well as columns with Berlin snout. One of the employees who made a contribution to popularizing the natural sciences at the time was the humble astronomer Bruno H. Bürgel .

Foundation of the Ullstein book publishing house

After initial success in the newspaper business, the Ullstein brothers founded Ullstein Buchverlag in Berlin in 1903, which quickly rose to become one of the leading German publishers under the management of Emil Herz . Emil Herz formulated his publishing program with a clear commitment to diversity in terms of content: "In this house, all currents were captured, all voices heard, registered and, as if from a huge soundboard, increasingly returned to the public."

In 1909 the first great world history appeared, edited by Julius von Pflugk-Harttung . Propylaen Verlag was founded in 1919 for such demanding, multi-volume works . Authors such as Bertolt Brecht , Carl Zuckmayer , Lion Feuchtwanger , Ödön von Horváth and Heinrich Mann have published with Ullstein. Two bestsellers of the 1920s were Erich Maria Remarque's Nothing New in the West and Vicki Baum's People in the Hotel . In contrast, the low-price book series Rote Ullstein-Bücher appeared from 1910 onwards ; the books cost one mark each and caused a sensation.

The concept of the Ullstein newspaper publisher since the 1920s was to retain successful writers, be it as editors and proofreaders - e.g. B. Vicki Baum , Benno Reifenberg , Franz Blei - or as novelists. It was common for the purchase incentive from readers and subscribers with serialized novels to increase, which were specially written for Ullstein and which were subsequently published in the house publishing as a book. A news and picture agency also belonged to the company, today's Ullstein picture service , which belongs to the Springer group . In the 1920s, the Ullsteinhaus in Berlin-Tempelhof was built directly on the Teltow Canal especially for the numerous Ullstein companies . There were the editorial and publishing rooms as well as their own print shop. The building is still standing today, but is no longer used by newspaper publishers; It was last sold in 2015 by the real estate company Becker & Kries to the family company Ullsteinhaus GmbH of the Samwer brothers ( Rocket Internet ). The newspaper editors stayed in Kochstrasse in the so-called newspaper district .

On April 10, 1927, the magazine Die Grüne Post appeared . The Sunday newspaper for town and country was originally designed for the rural population. However, the weekly paper soon enjoyed great popularity among all sections of the population and reached a circulation of over a million copies. Editor-in-chief was initially Ehm Welk , who became known as a writer through his Heiden von Kummerow . Under the pseudonym Thomas Trimm , he wrote an editorial in 1934 entitled Mr. Reichsminister - one word please! wore. Joseph Goebbels had him released, Welk was sent to the Oranienburg concentration camp and after his release was banned from working as an editor.

Berlin memorial plaque on the house, Bettinastraße 4, in Berlin-Grunewald
One of the two specially made Rumpler trucks

The Green Post later became the model for the weekly post, which gained cult statusin the GDR . Other magazines that belonged to the Ullstein Group at the time were Die Dame and Der Silberspiegel , the Uhu magazine, the journal Der Cross- Section, The cheerful Fridolin , a children's magazine, and the weekly illustrated Koralle .

time of the nationalsocialism

After the National Socialists came to power in 1933, the Ullstein family had to part with their company in 1934 and it was “Aryanized” . The company was renamed Deutscher Verlag in 1937 and became part of the central publishing house of the NSDAP ( Franz Eher Successor GmbH ). Louis Ullstein died in 1933, his older brother Hans two years later - both in Berlin. The other three brothers saved their lives by emigrating.

With the editorial occupation and the economic appropriation of Ullstein Verlag by the Nazi regime, as well as the renaming, the offer was changed significantly. The following papers were discontinued as early as 1933/1934: Vossische Zeitung , Zeitbilder , UHU , Der Cross-Section , Die Koralle and Tempo . The other newspapers and magazines remained: Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung (1894–1945), Berliner Morgenpost (1898–1945), BZ Am Mittag (1904–1943), Berliner Allgemeine Zeitung (1909–1943), Die Dame (1912–1943) , Berliner Montagspost (1920–1945) and Seven Days (1931–1939). The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung was published until April 1945, the Nazi propaganda magazine Signal until 1945, the weekly Das Reich 1940 to 1945 and the front newspaper Der Panzerbär from April 23 to 29, 1945.

Post-war years

Hermann Ullstein died in New York before the end of the war in 1943 , Franz Ullstein in 1945 there. Rudolf Ullstein, who in his late sixties was earning a living for himself and his wife in a London car repair shop, was the only one of the brothers to return to Berlin. In 1952 the family got their company back after lengthy negotiations. The house on Kochstrasse was largely destroyed; authors had died, lost or moved to other publishing houses. Immediately after the end of the war, branches were set up in Vienna , Berlin and Frankfurt am Main . They were merged in 1952, and one year later the Ullstein Taschenbuchverlag started production in Frankfurt. Heinrich Harrer's Seven Years in Tibet and Françoise Sagan's novel Bonjour Tristesse were great successes in those years .

Takeover by Axel Springer

In the mid- 1950s , Ullstein got into a serious financial crisis. Axel Springer acquired a 26 percent stake in Ullstein AG in 1956. The purchase went hand in hand with the agreement to increasingly use the printing and sales capacities of the Ullstein and Springer companies jointly. In 1959, Axel Springer acquired the majority of the shares and thus also the book publisher under the direction of Albrecht Knaus and later Wolf Jobst Siedler. The program was successful with German and American literature, with Christine Brückner and Arthur Hailey among the top authors .

In May 1959 the foundation stone for the new printing and publishing house was laid in the middle of the former Berlin newspaper district . Construction work began on August 13, 1961, under the eyes of GDR border soldiers behind the wall that was erected in the immediate vicinity . Months before the official inauguration of the Axel Springer high-rise in October 1966, the editorial offices of BZ and Morgenpost moved from the Tempelhof printing house into the new building. Propylaen Verlag also moved into its offices on the 16th floor of the Axel Springer high-rise , while Ullstein Buchverlag was housed in its own building across from Lindenstrasse .

Ullstein newspapers at Axel Springer

Since the takeover by Axel Springer , the reporting in the two Ullstein newspapers has been conservative and anti-communist . The BZ was also converted from an evening newspaper to an Anglo-Saxon style tabloid .

Book alliance with Langen Müller (1985–1995)

Shortly before Springer's death in 1985, the Ullstein book publishers merged with the Munich publishing group Langen Müller Herbig in January 1985 . At the request of Springer's CEO Peter Tamm, the Langen Müller publisher Herbert Fleissner became managing director . Springer himself no longer got to know Fleissner personally.

Under Fleissner, the Ullstein group followed a right-wing conservative course. The first arguments within the publishing house arose when Fleissner assigned the Herbig material on contemporary history to the paperback publishing house at the end of 1985 . The series of publications, which had been observed for years by the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution because of right-wing extremist connections, provoked open protest on the part of the Ullstein workforce because it relativized Nazi crimes and removed the causality of war and its consequences in favor of the German expellees from the East . As a result of these conflicts, managing director Viktor Niemann , later publisher at Piper , submitted his resignation.

In 1988 there was another scandal: Fleissner had Franz Schönhuber's I Was There appear as a Ullstein paperback, which was published by Langen Müller in 1981. The memories of the then federal chairman of the extreme right-wing republicans of his military service as a volunteer in the Waffen SS glorified Hitler's elite troops, played down their crimes or denied them. Despite the threat of consequences under labor law , the Ullstein manufacturers then opposed the instruction to have the new edition reprinted. At the beginning of February 1989, 42 employees of the publishing house sent a joint letter to group management asking that the book be removed from the program immediately and that similar publications be prevented in the future. After a lot of media coverage, the book disappeared from the Ullstein range, but remained available from Herbig in Munich.

After the fall of the wall

After the Springer House, which was primarily interested in magazines, acquired the Sportverlag Berlin from former GDR state ownership , Herbert Fleissner bought the Gesundheit Verlag and the property belonging to it. There were also the book editions of Zeitgeist Verlag , which Ullstein took over distribution in 1993.

Fleissner maintained his right-wing conservative course even after reunification . The editor-in-chief Rainer Zitelmann , who he hired in 1992, published books by Jörg Haider and finally Karlheinz Weißmann , whose book Der Weg in den Abgrund in 1995 caused a scandal similar to that of Schönhuber.

Shortly afterwards, the two contractual partners Springer (since 1994 under Tamm's successor Jürgen Richter ) and Fleissner decided to dissolve the alliance. On January 1, 1996, the merger was separated after exactly eleven years. The publishers were again divided between the two partners. The new publisher at Ullstein was Wolfram Göbel, who wanted to turn Ullstein Verlag into a liberal, cosmopolitan company again.

Takeover of the Goethestrasse publishing house and the Heyne Verlag

In order to establish itself as a "third force" alongside the major publishing groups Bertelsmann and Holtzbrinck , Axel Springer AG took over the Munich "Verlagshaus Goethestrasse" and in 1998 became a 95 percent majority shareholder in the publishing group " Econ & List ", with the book publishers Bucher, Econ, Claassen, List, Marion von Schröder and Südwest. Five percent remained in the hands of the Munich publishing director Christian Strasser , who became managing director of the new publishing group in 1999.

At the beginning of 2000 the head office of the book group and parts of the Ullstein publishing house were relocated to Munich . In 2001, Heyne Verlag in Munich was taken over, which - measured in terms of circulation - was almost as big as the whole Econ Ullstein List group put together. The group was renamed Ullstein Heyne List and now united 22 publishers. Best-sellers from this period appeared, for example, by the authors Charles Frazier , Leslie Forbes , John le Carré , Stephen King and Rita Mae Brown . New discoveries include Jo Nesbø and Åke Edwardson . The bestsellers by Islam expert Peter Scholl-Latour have also been published by Propylaen Verlag since 2002 . Despite these successes, the publishing group did not manage to operate profitably.

Sale of the publishers to Random House and Bonnier

In 2003, Axel Springer AG sold the publishing group to Bertelsmann / Random House, subject to the approval of the Federal Cartel Office . This merger was one of the most important on the German book market since 1945. The Federal Cartel Office did not approve the original plan to fully integrate Ullstein Heyne List into Random House, as the dominance of the Random House group as a whole and in particular in the paperback segment was too great would.

Bertelsmann then proposed to the Cartel Office that Heyne, Südwest and Diana should be separated from the publishing group and integrated into Random House, and that the (remaining) Ullstein group should be sold on. The Cartel Office agreed, although Bertelsmann took over half of the Ullstein Group at the time (according to edition) and, with the publishers Goldmann and Heyne, took a clear market-leading position in paperbacks with 40%.

The purchaser of the remaining Ullstein group (Ullstein, Claassen, Econ, List, Marion von Schröder and Propylaen) was the Swedish media group Bonnier in 2003 ; the group was renamed to its current name Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH . Since Bonnier already owned the publishers arsEdition , Carlsen , Piper and Thienemann in Germany , the company moved into the top of the German publishing groups with the purchase.

The newspaper publisher founded by Leopold Ullstein continued to be part of the Axel Springer Group.

Realignment of the Ullstein book publishers since 2003

For the new beginning after eventful years caused as publisher Viktor Niemann , who Herbert Fleissner had resigned and now returned to Ullstein. In the same year, Niemann arranged the return of the Munich branch to Berlin - Ullstein was to become the “mirror of the cultural and political life of the capital” again. The new publishing house was a listed school building, built in 1848 under Friedrich Wilhelm and restored in 2003/04 under the direction of British architect David Chipperfield , on Friedrichstrasse in Berlin-Mitte , in which the Ullstein book publishers have been located ever since.

Stand of Ullstein Verlage at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2013

In 2007 Siv Bublitz took over the publishing management of Ullstein Buchverlage. The program was realigned and the number of new publications reduced from approx. 500 to approx. 300 titles in order to attract more attention to the individual books and authors. The Ullstein Verlag in particular, after many years of primarily commercial orientation, was again opened up more to literature, following on from Emil Herz 's thoughts on the diversity of content. The authors include Joan Didion , Atiq Rahimi , Yahya Hassan , Oskar Roehler , Ulrich Tukur and classics such as Wassili Grossmann and Eileen Chang . The suspense literature continues to play an important role in the program. These include John le Carré , Jo Nesbø , James Ellroy , Liza Marklund , Åke Edwardson and Nele Neuhaus . The non-fiction program of recent years has been shaped by authors such as Richard Dawkins , Stéphane Hessel , Michael Sandel , Terry Eagleton , Markus Gabriel and Giulia Enders . In Propylaea publisher appeared u. a. the political non-fiction books by Peter Scholl-Latour (1924–2014).

In addition to Ullstein, the Ullstein book publishers also include the imprints Ullstein Extra, Ullstein Taschenbuch, Allegria, Econ, List, List Taschenbuch and Propylaea. In addition, the two digital imprints Midnight (tension) and Forever were created in 2014. At the interface between self-publishing and traditional publishing, at least six e-books appear here every month .

Ullstein Buchverlage has been running a publishing blog called Resonanzboden since 2014 . The blog is intended to provide Ullstein authors and employees with a new forum, set topics that go beyond the book program, take up the latest, initiate and entertain discussions and debates.

In spring 2017, Ullstein launched another imprint: Ullstein five. The focus is on socially relevant and at the same time accessible stories by German authors. The name is reminiscent of a Ullstein tradition: In the founding years of the publishing house, each of the five Ullstein brothers contributed according to their talents. Following the example of the five brothers, the program is designed across departments and together with the authors.

On October 1, 2017, Gunnar Cynybulk took over the publishing management of Ullstein Buchverlage. In May 2019 it was announced that he would leave Ullstein for the summer of the year at his own request; Barbara Laugwitz was appointed successor .

Ullstein GmbH newspapers

(today under the name "BZ Ullstein GmbH" 100 percent subsidiary of Axel Springer SE )

Publishers of Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH

(now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bonnier group)

Publishers that no longer belong to the book group

* Verlag was separated from the publishing group in 2003 as part of the division of publishers between Bertelsmann and Bonnier
**Verlag was separated from the publishing group in 1995 as part of the dissolution of the alliance with Herbert Fleissner

See also


  • Max Osborn : Fifty years of Ullstein. 1877-1927. Ullstein, Berlin 1927.
  • Hermann Ullstein : The Ullstein House . Ullstein-Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-550-08046-3 . (Original in English, 1943)
  • Emil Herz : I think of Germany at night. The history of the house of Steg. Berlin 1951. (Supplemented and illustrated reprint: Kurtz Scheideler (Hrsg.): I think of Germany in the night. (= Series of publications of the Museumsverein Warburg eV Volume 8; Warburger Schriften. Volume 10). Warburg 1994, ISBN 3-922032-32 -X .)
  • Ullstein - A god protected us. In: Der Spiegel. No. 4, 1952. (spiegel.de)
  • Arthur Koestler : Early outrage. Collected autobiographical writings. Volume 1, Vienna / Munich / Zurich 1970.
  • W. Joachim Freyburg, Hans Wallenberg (ed.): Hundred years of Ullstein. 4 volumes. Ullstein, Berlin 1977, ISBN 3-550-07371-2 , ISBN 3-550-07372-0 , ISBN 3-550-07373-9 , ISBN 3-550-07374-7 .
  • Christian Ferber : One hundred years of Ullstein. 1877-1977. A picture book with marginal notes. Ullstein, Berlin 1977, ISBN 3-550-07375-5 .
  • Wilmont Haacke : One hundred years of Ullstein as a reflection of intellectual history. 1877-1977. In: Journal of Religious and Intellectual History . Jg. 31, 1979, ISSN  0044-3441 , pp. 185-194.
  • One hundred years of Ullstein. Books under the sign of the owl. Ullstein, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-550-07545-6 .
  • Anne Enderlein (Ed.): Ullstein Chronik . Ullstein, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-550-08880-3 .
  • The owl leaves feathers. The Ullsteinhaus 1926–1986. Typesetters, printers, journalists. 2nd, revised and supplemented edition. trafo Literaturverlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-89626-638-5 .
  • Bernard Schüler: The Ullstein Verlag and the silent film. Uco-Film GmbH as an expression of an innovative partnership. Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-447-06953-3 .
  • David Oels, Ute Schneider: “The whole publishing house is simply a bonbonniere.” Ullstein in the first half of the 20th century. Walter de Gruyter, 2015, ISBN 978-3-11-033708-2 .
  • Juliane Berndt, The Restitution of the Ullstein Publishing House (1945–52). Remigration, intrigue, return: the stony path of a traditional Berlin company , De Gruyter, Berlin 2020


Web links

Commons : Ullstein Verlag  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 12.
  2. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 15.
  3. A. Koestler: Early outrage. Collected autobiographical writings. Volume 1, 1970, p. 175.
  4. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 17.
  5. E. Herz: I think of Germany at night. 1994, p. 308.
  6. Samwer brothers buy Ullsteinhaus ( Memento from October 8, 2015 in the web archive archive.today )
  7. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 284.
  8. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 343.
  9. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 346.
  10. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 381.
  11. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 386.
  12. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 395.
  13. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 397.
  14. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 451.
  15. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 466.
  16. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 477.
  17. A. Enderlein: Ullstein Chronicle. 2011, p. 489.
  18. Ullstein Buchverlage: ullsteinbuchverlage In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  19. Midnight by Ullstein , digital imprint.
  20. Forever by Ullstein , digital imprint.
  21. resonanzboden.com , Ullstein book publishers' blog.
  22. Ullstein book publishers start blog / soundboard begins to swing In: boersenblatt.net , September 25, 2014, accessed on March 27, 2018.
  23. Ullstein launches fiction imprint In: buchreport.de , October 19, 2016, accessed on March 27, 2018.
  24. Change from structure to the Bonnier Group / Gunnar Cynybulk becomes Ullstein publisher In: boersenblatt.net , September 6, 2017, accessed on March 27, 2018.
  25. Gunnar Cynybulk leaves Ullstein, Barbara Laugwitz takes over , boersenblatt.net, May 10, 2019, accessed on May 14, 2019
  26. Ullstein Buchverlage: Ullstein Taschenbuch In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  27. Ullstein Buchverlage: List Taschenbuch In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  28. Ullstein Buchverlage: Propylaen In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  29. Ullstein Buchverlage: Econ In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  30. Ullstein Buchverlage: Marion von Schröder In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  31. Ullstein Buchverlage: Allegria In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  32. Ullstein Buchverlage: Midnight In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  33. ^ Ullstein Buchverlage: Forever In: ullstein-buchverlage.de , accessed on March 27, 2018.
  34. ^ Ullstein book publishers: Econ. In: Website of the Ullsein book publishers. Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH, accessed on April 28, 2019 .