Axel Springer

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Axel Springer
Axel Springerbronze.jpg
Bronze sculpture of Springer at the court yard of the Hamburger Abendblatt
Axel Cäsar Springer

(1912-05-02)2 May 1912
Died22 September 1985(1985-09-22) (aged 73)
OccupationBusiness, Publishing
Spouse(s)Martha Else Meyer (1933–1938) divorced
Erna Frieda Berta Holm (1939–) divorced
Rosemarie Alsen (1953–1961) divorced
Helga Ludeweg(1962–) divorced
Friede Springer (1978–1985)
ChildrenBarbara (born 1933)
Axel Springer Jr. (1941–1980)
Raimund Nicolaus (born 1962)
Parent(s)Hinrich Springer

Axel Cäsar Springer (2 May 1912 – 22 September 1985) was a German journalist and the founder and owner of the Axel Springer SE publishing company.

Early life[edit]

Springer was born in Altona near Hamburg, where his father worked as publisher. As a young man, from July 1941, Springer acted as projectionist at the Waterloo cinema, near the Dammtor railway station, which presented American films for the well-to-do youth of Hamburg until Germany's declaration of war against the United States in December 1941.[1]

Axel Springer bore no relation to the 19th century publisher Julius Springer.[2]

Journalist career[edit]

Springer's career started as an apprentice compositor and publisher at the publishers Hammerich & Lesser-Verlag, his father's company. After that, he received practical training in the news agency "Wolffs Telegraphisches Bureau" and worked as a local reporter for the newspaper Bergedorfer Zeitung.

Starting in 1934, he worked as a journalist for Altonaer Nachrichten until the compulsory closure of that newspaper in 1941. From 1941 to 1945, he published literary works in Hammerich & Lesser Verlag.


Springer founded his own publishing company, Axel Springer GmbH, in Hamburg in 1946. He published the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper, preceded by some magazines, including the popular radio and TV program magazine Hörzu. In 1952, Springer started the publication of the tabloid Bild, becoming the daily newspaper for millions in Germany and an important influence on public opinion.

He went on to launch and acquire a string of papers and magazines characterised by entertainment and conservative politics, Die Welt among others. The Axel Springer AG today is one of the major magazine, newspaper and online media companies in Europe with over 230 newspapers and magazines as well as more than 80 online offerings.


In the late 1960s, Springer was attacked by the German student movement for the political opinions propagated through the tabloid Bild and the other Springer media, and became a target of protest marches and direct actions. Anti-student campaigns in his papers were in particular blamed for the murder attempt against Rudi Dutschke. Springer was swift to denounce those who questioned the equity and social costs of the West German Wirtschaftswunder, the so-called "economic miracle" of the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1974, Springer's Bild was attacked in The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Böll. In 1977 Günter Wallraff, a noted German writer and journalist, worked for four months as an editor for Bild in Hanover, under the name "Hans Esser". In his books Der Aufmacher – a pun meaning both "Lead Story" and "the one who opens" – and Zeugen der Anklage ("Witnesses for the Prosecution") he portrays his experiences among the editorial staff of the tabloid and the journalism he encountered there.

Corporate principles[edit]

Part of the articles of association of Axel Springer AG are the five sociopolitical preambles that were written by Axel Springer in 1967, amended in 1990 following German reunification and supplemented in 2001, one day after 9/11.

  1. To uphold liberty and law in Germany, a country belonging to the Western family of nations, and to further the unification of Europe.
  2. To promote reconciliation of Jews and Germans and support the vital rights of the State of Israel.
  3. To support the Transatlantic Alliance, and solidarity with the United States of America in the common values of free nations.
  4. To reject all forms of political extremism.
  5. To uphold the principles of a free social market economy.

The corporate constitution defines fundamental sociopolitical convictions but does not offer opinions.[3]


Springer died in West Berlin in 1985.[4] His heiress is his fifth (and last) wife Friede Springer (born 1942) who, 30 years Springer's junior, had been his sons' nanny.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard J. Evans, "The Third Reich at War", p. 578. New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2009. ISBN 978-1-59420-206-3.
  2. ^ "[1]". Verkehrs Rundschau.
  3. ^ Corporate Principles, Values and Guidelines of Axel Springer AG Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Brief Biography of Axel Springer on". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  5. ^ Karacs, Imre; Koenig, Peter (May 31, 1998). "It's like watching two run-down old elephants perform a dance". The Independent. Retrieved July 2, 2014.