Wolff, Bernhard

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WOLFF, BERNHARD (1812–1879), also Bendit Wolff or Wolff-Benda , German journalist and publisher. Born the second son of the Berlin banker Marcus Wolff (1759–1835), Bernhard Wolff was trained in medicine but took up journalism. After the death of his father, who had lost all his assets, Wolff joined the old Berlin book publishing firm Vossische Buchhandlung as part-owner, translating scientific works from French and English. Shortly before the 1848 revolution he acquired the Berliner Bank-, Börsen- und Handelszeitung and, in April 1848, was among the founders of the liberal Berlin daily National-Zeitung, which he managed till 1850, finally becoming its owner.

In 1849, with the backing of the electrical entrepreneur Werner Siemens (1816–1892), Wolff established the world's first telegraphic news agency in Berlin, the Telegraphisches Korrespondenzbuero Bernhard Wolff, later called Wolff's Telegraphisches Bureau (wtb). wtb was to become the most important German news agency, expanding to other German cities and several European capitals, and even taking over *Reuter's office in Berlin. In 1865, wtb was transformed into a joint-stock company, the Continental Telegraphen Compagnie; the Prussian government also started to subsidize wtb. Wolff remained director of the firm until the 1870s; from the 1870s on, wtb had official standing, being virtually owned by the German government. In 1933, the Nazis changed the name of wtb to Deutsches Nachrichten-Bureau (dnb) which, in 1946, became the Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst (adn), the official news agency of the German Democratic Republic. In 1994, it merged into the Deutscher Depeschen-Dienst (ddp) agency. Wolff's National-Zeitung eventually became part of the *Mosse publishing house. Wolff died in Berlin.


L. Salomon, Geschichte des Deutschen Zeitungswesens, 3 (1906); F.M. Feldhaus, in: adb, 55 (1910), 661–2; F. Fuchs, Telegraphische Nachrichtenbueros (1919); Wininger 6 (1931), 311–2; J. Jacobson, Die Judenbuergerbücher der Stadt Berlin 18091851 (1962), no. 920, 481; J. Wilke (ed.), Telegraphenbueros und Nachrichtenagenturen in Deutschland (1991); D. Basse, Wolff's Telegraphisches Bureau 1849 bis 1933 (1991); H.J. Teuteberg and C. Neutsch (eds.), Vom Fluegeltelegrafen zum Internet (1998).

[Johannes Valentin Schwarz (2nd ed.)]