The Frankfurter Zeitung was a German language newspaper that appeared from 1856 to 1943. It emerged from a market letter that was published in Frankfurt. In Nazi Germany it was considered the only mass publication not completely controlled by the Propagandaministerium under Joseph Goebbels.
In 1856, German writer and politician Leopold Sonnemann purchased a struggling market publication in Germany called the Frankfurter Geschäftsbericht (also known as Frankfurter Handelszeitung). Sonnemann changed its name to Neue Frankfurter Zeitung (later simply Frankfurter Zeitung) and assumed the duties of publisher, editor, and contributing writer. The new title incorporated political news and commentary, and by the time of the foundation of the German Empire in 1871, the Frankfurter Zeitung had become an important mouthpiece of the liberal bourgeois extra-parliamentary opposition. It advocated peace in Europe before 1914 and during World War I.
During the period of the Weimar Republic, the paper was treated with hostility by nationalist circles because it had pronounced itself in favour of the Treaty of Versailles in 1918. At that time it no longer stood in opposition to the government and supported Gustav Stresemann's policy of reconciliation.
The Frankfurter Zeitung was one of the few democratic papers of that time. It was known in particular for its Feuilleton section, edited by Benno Reifenberg, in which works of most of the great minds of the Weimar Republic were published.
After the 1933 seizure of power by the Nazis, several Jewish contributors had to leave the Frankfurter Zeitung, such as Siegfried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin. The paper was finally sold in June 1934 to the chemical corporation IG Farben. The company's directors, particularly Carl Bosch, were well-disposed toward the paper because of its traditional place in German life, and believed it could be useful in promoting favorable publicity for the company.
Because it was convenient for public relations abroad, the paper was initially protected by Hitler and Josef Goebbels and it retained more editorial independence than the rest of the press in the Third Reich. However, within a few years IG Farben gave up on its newspaper: inexorably, it had become compromised by the increasing oversight of the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda and was quickly losing its journalistic reputation internationally. As well, the company directors realized that it no longer needed to influence domestic public opinion, "since there was effectively no public opinion left in Germany." The paper was quietly sold and subsumed by a subsidiary of the Nazi publishing organ, Eher Verlag, in 1938. Faced with declining readership throughout the Second World War, it was closed down entirely in August, 1943.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung considers itself a successor organisation to the original Zeitung, as many former journalists of the earlier paper helped launch it in 1949.
Notable contributors to the Frankfurter Zeitung
- Theodor Adorno
- Muhammad Asad as Leopold Weiss
- Walter Benjamin
- Franz Blei
- Margret Boveri
- Alfred Döblin
- Lion Feuchtwanger
- Erich Kästner
- Editha Klipstein
- Annette Kolb
- Siegfried Kracauer
- Ernst Kreuder
- Heinrich Mann
- Thomas Mann
- Sándor Márai
- Franz Mehring
- Soma Morgenstern
- Peretz Naftali
- Kurt Offenburg
- Alfred Polgar
- Joseph Roth
- Richard Scorge
- Friedrich Schrader
- Anna Seghers
- Heinrich Schirmbeck
- Walter Schmiele
- Dolf Sternberger
- Max Weber
- Carl Zuckmayer
- Stefan Zweig
- Günther Gillessen: Auf verlorenem Posten. Die Frankfurter Zeitung im Dritten Reich. Siedler Verlag, Berlin 1986, 1987. ISBN 3-88680-223-X
- Tuttle, Herbert (1876). German political leaders. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. p. 197. OCLC 1536166. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- Anthony Fothergill Reading Conrad: Melancholy in the shadow of the swastika Yearbook of Conrad Studies (Poland) 2007
- Evans, Richard (2006). The Third Reich in Power. Penguin. p. 142. ISBN 9781440649301. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- Evans, p. 143.
- Stanley, Adam C. (2008). Modernizing Tradition: Gender and Consumerism in Interwar France and Germany. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. p. 182. ISBN 0807133620. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
- Noelle, E. (27 June 2002), Die letzte Kerze. Das Verbot der Frankfurter Zeitung im August 1943, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German)