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Part II — XVII Max Amann*
Excerpts from Testimony of Max Amann, taken at Nurnberg, Germany, 23 October 1945, 1030-1225, by Lt. Col. T. S. Hinkel, IGD. Also present: John Albert, Interpreter; Frances Karr, Reporter.
Nazi acquisition and suppression of the German press
Q. Do you recall publicly stating in October 1941 that the majority of the larger and medium-sized papers in Germany were financially controlled by the Party?
A. Yes, I think even a two-thirds majority.
* Max Amann was Reich Leader for the Press; Head of Central Publishing House of the Party; and President of the Reich Press Chamber. Previously he served in the same company with Hitler in World War I, took part in the Putsch of 1923, and was imprisoned for four hand one-half months. He was Munich City Councillor 1924-33; member of Reich Culture Senate since its foundation in 1935; and member of the Reichstag since 1933. See document 3016-PS, vol. V, p. 735; see also vol. I, pp. 330-332.
Q. Well, what was the total circulation, at its highest point, of all Party newspapers?
A. If the total circulation amounted to 21,000,000 and I said two-thirds of it is controlled by the Party it would amount to 16 million.
Q. Was the highest peak of circulation of German newspapers, including both Party and non-Party, the 21 million figure, you have cited?
A. Yes, of all German dailies. You have to add a great many weeklies, which had very wide circulation.
Q. Now, isn’t it a fact that a large number of private publishing houses that were non-Party went out of existence during the eight-year period from January 1933 until 1941?
A. Yes. We bought quite a lot after 1935.
Q. How many newspapers were owned by the Party at the time the Party came into power in January 1933?
A. I can only estimate, but perhaps 400 newspapers.
Q. How many newspapers did the Party own at its highest point?
A. Approximately, but this is only an estimate, from 1,200 to 1,500, but I rather think 1,200.
Q. Is the difference between the 400 and 1,200 or 1,500 figure accounted for by the purchase of going newspapers or by the founding of new newspapers?
A. Through both.
Q. Which would you say accounted for the larger number?
A. In my opinion, purchase.
Q. What were the methods used in acquiring these various newspapers by purchase?
A. On my strict order two points had to be observed strictly. First, the newspaper had to be relinquished voluntarily and a legal price had to be paid.
Q. Why do you think so many newspapers were willing to sell valuable property to your outfit?
A. The reason was that those publishers, who were regarded as politically unreliable by the Party, were told it would be a good idea to hand over the newspapers to their sons, who should have had newspaper training by now, or any other relative, or, if no other person existed in his family who would be qualified, to offer his paper to somebody outside.
Q. Who, besides yourself in Germany, was doing any purchasing of newspaper properties during the period in question?
A. I don’t know that but I am sure that newspapers were also sold in the free market to other publishers.
Q. You don’t really think that, do you?
A. Yes, I really believe that.
Q. You do not mean to imply by that that you didn’t know the publishing picture as a whole in Germany, do you?
A. Oh yes, I was well informed all the time but I could not recall detailed, single cases.
Q. As a matter of fact, if there had been any substantial buying of newspapers by anybody except yourself you would remember it, wouldn’t you?
A. Yes, then I would remember it.
Q. The fact that you do not remember it would indicate that there was no such substantial buying, isn’t that correct?
A. Yes, that is right.
Q. Don’t you think it is a fair statement to make, that you were practically the sole purchaser of newspapers in Germany during this period?
A. Larger papers, yes, that could be said. May I add one thing? The financial situation of the German newspapers was quite bad during that period. Many papers had collapsed already during the inflation and later on through mass unemployment when few people could afford to buy newspapers.
Q. You are speaking of the period from 1933 on now, are you?
A. Only since 1934 and 1935 the publishing business flourished again. I bought, for instance, from Hugenberg the Ala Advertising Company, which operated at a deficit at that time and it took about two years until it made profits again.
Q. You don’t take the position, do you, that all the newspapers you purchased were in a bankrupt condition prior to the time you purchased them?
A. No, I don’t want to say that. I want to say in general, the situation was pretty difficult.
Q. Why do you think people who owned newspapers that were profitable were willing to sell them to you?
A. That willingness could be explained by the fact that many publishers were declared politically unreliable and couldn’t continue as publishers.
Q. Did you ever make any recommendations as to which publishers should be declared politically unreliable in order that their newspapers might then become available for purchase?
A. No. The Reich Association of the German Press had to investigate the political reliability of people and they used the assistance of the Propaganda Ministry and the criminal and political records of people were investigated, etc. I remember, for ex-
ample, a case in Zwickau, Saxony, where one publisher would have one Communist, one German Nationalist paper, and one so-called Generalanzeiger, which means neutral press, and that was regarded as politically unreliable to bring out three different newspapers.
Q. Weren’t your representatives among those who decided as to whether or not a particular newspaper was politically unreliable?
A. I myself was President of the Reich Association of the German Press until the Reich Press Chamber was founded.
Q. Then you were President of that, is that correct?
A. When I became President of the Reich Press Chamber I retired from the Presidency of the Reich Association of the German Press.
Q. Wasn’t the Reich Association of the German Press under the supervision of the Reich Press Chamber?
A. No. If I may explain the difference, the Reich Association of the German Press was a public corporation and represented the interests of the journalists and was not under the Reich Press Chamber.
Q. What interest did the Reich Press Chamber represent?
A. The Reich Press Chamber had the task of representing the interests of the publishers, of the publishing industry, and to build a new Association of the German publishing business.
Q. Isn’t it a fact that whenever a newspaper was declared politically undesirable that one or more of your representatives participated in that decision?
A. A certain Mr. Winkler always approached me and told me, “There is another newspaper to be bought.” But I didn’t want to many newspapers. I was always afraid of the recollection I had of Mr. Stinnes, who built up such a huge concern that he couldn’t handle it any more.
Q. This certain Mr. Winkler, to whom you refer, was one of your employees, is that right?
A. No, he was an expert supplied by the Propaganda Ministry.
Q. He worked for you, didn’t he?
A. Yes, he then worked for me. There were some confusions at the beginning. He first bought newspapers for the Propaganda Ministry and then I protested and said an official ministry cannot run newspapers, it has to be run by business men and then he bought newspapers for me.
Q. When you say, for you, you mean the Eher Publishing Company?*
* The publishing house of Franz Eher Verlag was given a lucrative monopoly on the publication of all works of Party officials, by virtue of a special decree by Hitler. See document 2383-PS, vol. V, pp. 9, 19.
A. Yes, that is right.
Q. Whatever private misgivings you may have had about developing a large number of newspapers, nevertheless the Eher Publishing Company did buy a large number, isn’t that correct?
A. Yes, that is right.
Q. Now, you remember our discussion yesterday regarding the purchase by the Gau, of the “Dortmunder Generalanzeiger"?
A. As far as I can remember it must have taken place in 1933 to 1934 and at that time I had not been in the purchasing business yet.
Q. What do you recall regarding the acquisition of the property rights of the Ullstein Publishing Company?
A. I have a very good recollection of the case of the Ullstein Publishing House because that was the first big publishing house which Winkler tried to buy for the Propaganda Ministry and I protested successfully at that time and said, “Such a big publishing house must be bought by a newspaper expert” and there were long negotiations with the Ullstein Company. I finally talked it over with their Director, Mr. Wiesner, and I had a conversation with Dr. Franz Ullstein, and my proposal was to pay the entire capital stock at the value of 12 million marks but Winkler thought I was crazy. He said it was much too much and much too generous, especially as this publishing house had a deficit of 3.7 million marks the previous year. My opinion was that his publishing house should not be continued at all. It should have been liquidated, as was done with most publishing houses. But then, I felt the only reason for the bad state of the Ullstein business was that it didn’t have enough printing orders and, as I could supply that to a large measure, I decided to buy it.
Q. Wasn’t that newspaper purchased through the auspices of the Deutsche Bank?
Q. Who paid the 12 million marks for it?
A. There was quite some friction with Winkler about the purchase. Winkler said he had the money from a so-called “Caucio Fund,” which represented money given by the Reich Government to the Propaganda Ministry but I protested against this procedure. I finally borrowed money from the Bank der Deutschen Arbeit and refused to take Reich money for it, or to use Reich money for it.
I only wanted to add that finally, on this occasion, it was cleared up that Winkler was not buying newspapers for the Propaganda Ministry but for the Eher Publishing House. The negotiations,
which lasted for many weeks, could be finished within a few days, the moment I offered the complete capital as the purchasing price.
Q. As a matter of fact that 12 million marks purchase price was quite a bargain, wasn’t it?
A. In the beginning it looked like a very bad bargain to me, and Winkler, as I said before warned me against paying so much, but I knew the only problem was to get enough orders to keep the machines going and so I did it.
Q. Actually it was worth about 60 million marks, isn’t that true?
A. No, that is impossible. Every layman could find that out because the purchase price was based on the last year’s balance sheet and that could be ascertained easily. The last balance sheet for Ullstein for 1933 showed a deficit of 3.7 million marks.
Q. Did you take a look at any of the balance sheets other than for the year preceding?
A. No, I couldn’t remember because as a basis for the purchase price only the last year was taken.
Q. Yes. It might very well be that the balance sheet for the year 1933 may have looked bad because the newspapers in the Ullstein chain had been prohibited from publishing for a long period of time. Is that right?
A. I cannot remember that Ullstein papers were prohibited from appearing. The main business was the “Berliner Illustrierte,” which was still appearing. The “Gruene Post” had a big business. The “Koralle,” a weekly, had had an excellent sale. This weekly, for instance, had a circulation of 80,000 which was regarded high, but the moment we took it over we increased it sharply.*
Q. Would it surprise you if I told you that these papers, to which you have referred, were shut down for periods of weeks at a time because they had printed something that the Propaganda Ministry or somebody else disagreed with politically?
A. I can only remember the “Gruene Post” was forbidden for a short period.
Q. Yes. Now, isn’t it a fact that the Ullstein interests were Jewish?
A. Yes, that is right.
Q. Do you think that had anything to do with their sale of their interests?
A. Yes, that had quite a lot to do with it because Hitler had ordered, as a matter of principle, to extinguish and remove forever all former Jewish-controlled newspapers.
* It was an excellent educational paper and we sold a lot to teachers, and so-forth.
Q. Do you recall my asking you yesterday, if it was not a fact, that one of the principle things that assisted you in your newspaper buying activities were the anti-Semitic laws and decrees that had been issued?
A. Those anti-Semitic laws were no help to me. I did not keep within their frame.
Q. I invite your attention to your purchase of the Ullstein interests.
A. I did this against the direct wish of the Fuehrer, who had declared, “I wish this published house to be liquidated.”
Q. Wasn’t it liquidated when you purchased it?
A. No, it received new life through my purchase.
Q. You don’t seriously contend, do you, that the same editorial policy was followed after your purchase as before your purchase?
A. I have to state again I had no influence whatsoever on the political direction and tendency of the newspapers. May I give you one example, the case of the “Frankfurter Zeitung"? Hitler wanted to have this newspaper destroyed, liquidated. Finally, it was ascertained that it was not in Jewish hands at all but was owned by the I.G. Farben industry. I hesitated for years from buying the “Frankfurter Zeitung” but according to the new laws, a stock company like the I.G. Farben Company could not continue publishing. The paper was in bad financial shape. About 500,000 marks a year had to be given as a sinking fund by I.G. Farben to keep the paper going.