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Springer, Axel Caesar°


SPRINGER, AXEL CAESAR ° (1912–1985), German publisher. Born in Altona/Hamburg. As he was unfit for war services, he did not fight as a soldier in the German Wehrmacht during World War ii. Until 1941 Springer was editor in his father's newspaper Altonaer Nachrichten, whose publication was stopped due to a Nazi order. After the war he first started as a book publisher, but soon after that he founded many popular German magazines and newspapers. With the daily newspaper Bild Springer reached his greatest success, though critics complained about the one-sided conservative political opinions spread by this tabloid and a lack of serious journalism. In 1967, Springer postulated as the four main goals to which every editor of the Springer Press had to subscribe: The engagement for the German re-unification in freedom and in a united Europe, the reconciliation between Germans and Jews as well as the defense of the rights of the Israeli people, the rejection of political totalitarianism, and the defense of the free social market economy. In addition, the Springer Press always demonstrated sympathy and solidarity for American politics, particularly during the Vietnam War. As a non-Jew, Springer was a known friend of the Jewish People and Israel. This fact irritated many left-wing critics, who viewed in the the conservative Springer Press their main enemy. During the student protests in the 1960s, Bild condemned the protesters and many critics accused Bild of "heating-up" the atmosphere. In 1972 the Springer Publishing House in Berlin was the target of a bomb attack carried out by leftist extremists.

Springer gave substantial donations to Israel and Jewish organizations, e.g., for the library of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (1966) and the Leo Baeck Institute in New York (1963). In 1968, Springer endowed $250,000 for the establishment of the Ottilie Springer Chair at Brandeis University. As a result of his social and political engagement Springer was honored with numerous awards, such as the Leo Baeck Medal (1978), and honorary doctorates from Temple University in Philadelphia (1971), Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan (1974), and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1976). In 1983, Springer was awarded the title "ne'eman Yerushalayim" (preserver of Jerusalem). In 1984, he received the gold medal of the Israeli Association of Daily Paper Publishers and in 1985 the gold medal of the B'nai B'rith League. Moreover, Springer was an honorary member of the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Reḥovot, Israel.

In 1972, Springer published a collection of his speeches and essays: Von Berlin aus gesehen. Zeugnisse eines engagierten Deutschen.


Axel-Springer-Verlag (ed.), The Axel Springer-Group's Commitment to Israel (2001); E. Cramer, A. Springer, "Israel und die Juden," in: A. Nachama et al (eds.), Aufbau nach dem Untergang. Deutsch-jüdische Geschichte nach 1945 (1992), 347–56; G. Kruip, Das "Welt"-"Bild" des Axel Springer-Verlags. Journalismus zwischen westlichen Werten und Deutschen Denktraditionen (1999).

[Monika Halbinger (2nd ed.)]

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