Der Spiegel

Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Editor-in-Chief Georg Mascolo
Categories News magazine
Frequency Weekly (on Mondays)
Circulation 1,050,000 / week
Publisher SPIEGEL-Verlag
First issue 4 January 1947
Country Germany
Language German

(English version)
ISSN 0038-7452

Der Spiegel (German pronunciation: [deːɐ ˈʃpiːɡəl], lit. "The Mirror") is a German weekly news magazine[1] published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.[2][3]



The first edition of Der Spiegel was published in Hanover on Saturday, 4 January 1947. Its release was initiated and sponsored by the British occupational administration and preceded by a magazine titled, Diese Woche (This Week), which had first been published in November 1946. After disagreements with the British, the magazine was handed over to Rudolf Augstein as chief editor, and was renamed Der Spiegel. From the first edition in January 1947, Augstein held the position of editor-in-chief, which he retained until his death on 7 November 2002.

After 1950, the magazine was owned by Rudolf Augstein and John Jahr; Jahr's share merged with Richard Gruner in 1965 to form the publishing company Gruner + Jahr. In 1969, Augstein bought out Gruner + Jahr for DM 42 million and became the sole owner of Der Spiegel. In 1971, Gruner + Jahr bought back a 25% share in the magazine. In 1974, Augstein restructured the company to make the employees shareholders. All employees with more than three years seniority were offered the opportunity to become an associate and participate in the management of the company, as well as in the profits.

Since 1952, Der Spiegel has been headquartered in its own building in the old town part of Hamburg.

In 1994, Spiegel Online was launched.

Der Spiegel is similar in style and layout to American news magazines such as Time or Newsweek. In terms of the breadth and amount of detail in its articles it is comparable to The Atlantic Monthly. It is known in Germany for its distinctive, academic writing style and its large volume—a standard issue may run 200 pages or more. Typically, it has a content to advertising ratio of 2:1.

As of 2010, Der Spiegel was employing the equivalent of 80 full-time fact checkers, which the Columbia Journalism Review called "most likely the world's largest fact checking operation".[4]


new Spiegel headquarters since 2011, Hamburg
old Spiegel headquarters, Hamburg

Der Spiegel's circulation rose quickly. From 15,000 copies in 1947, it grew to 65,000 in 1948 and 437,000 in 1961. By the 1970s, it had reached a plateau at about 900,000 copies. When the German re-unification in 1990 made it available to a new readership in former East Germany, the circulation exceeded one million. The magazine's influence is based on two pillars; firstly the moral authority established by investigative journalism since the early years and proven alive by several impressive scoops during the 1980s; secondly the economic power of the prolific Spiegel publishing house. Since 1988, it has produced the TV programme Spiegel TV, and further diversified during the 1990s. Among other things, Spiegel Verlag now publishes the monthly Manager Magazin.

In 1993, the publishing company Hubert Burda Media presented the weekly magazine FOCUS as an alternative to the Spiegel. It established a different style, defined by more succinct articles in combination with a layout of a more spectacular kind and succeeded in reaching roughly the Spiegel's circulation.


When Stefan Aust took over in 1994, the magazine's readers realised that his personality was different from his predecessor. In 2005, a documentary by Stephan Lamby quoted him as follows: "We stand at a very big cannon!"[5] Politicians of all stripes who had to deal with the magazine's attention often voiced their disaffection for it. The outspoken conservative Franz Josef Strauß contended that Der Spiegel was "the Gestapo of our time". He referred to journalists in general as "rats".[6]) The Social Democrat Willy Brandt called it "Scheißblatt" (i.e. a "shitty newspaper") during his term in office as Chancellor.

Der Spiegel often produces feature-length articles on problems affecting Germany (like demographic trends, the federal system's gridlock or the issues of its education system) and describes optional strategies and their risks in depth.[7][8][9][10][11]

Investigative journalism

Der Spiegel has a distinctive reputation for revealing political misconduct and scandals. It merited first accordant recognition as early as 1950, when the federal parliament launched an inquiry into the Spiegel's accusations that bribed members of parliament had promoted Bonn (rather than Frankfurt) as the site of West Germany's government.

During the Spiegel scandal in 1962, which followed the release of a report about the possibly low state of readiness of the German armed forces, minister of defence and conservative figurehead Franz Josef Strauß had Der Spiegel investigated. In the course of this investigation, the editorial offices were raided by police while Rudolf Augstein and other Der Spiegel editors were arrested on charges of treason. Despite a lack of sufficient authority, Strauß even went after the article's author, Conrad Ahlers, who was consequently arrested in Spain where he was on holiday. When the legal case collapsed, the scandal led to a major shake-up in chancellor Konrad Adenauer's cabinet and Strauß had to stand down. The affair was generally received as an attack on the freedom of the press. Since then, Der Spiegel has repeatedly played a significant role in revealing political grievances and misdeeds, including the Flick Affair.

The Spiegel scandal is now remembered for altering the political culture of post-war Germany and — with the first mass demonstrations and public protests — being a turning point from the old Obrigkeitsstaat (authoritarian state) to a modern democracy.

In 2010, the magazine supported WikiLeaks in publishing leaked materials from the United States State Department, along with the The Guardian, The New York Times, El País, Le Monde.[12]


  • 1962-1968: Claus Jacobi
  • 1968-1973: Günter Gaus
  • 1973-1986: Erich Böhme and Johannes K. Engel
  • 1986-1989: Erich Böhme and Werner Funk
  • 1989-1994: Hans Werner Kilz and Wolfgang Kaden
  • 1994-2008: Stefan Aust
  • 2008–2011: Mathias Müller von Blumencron
  • 2008–present: Georg Mascolo

See also


  1. ^ "DER SPIEGEL is Germany's oldest news magazine, founded in 1946 as an obvious imitation of America's TIME and NEWSWEEK magazines.". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Kevin J. O'Brien (19 April 2004). "Scoop on Bundesbank head returns focus to Der Spiegel". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  3. ^ "Average circulation: 1.1 million". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Silverman, Craig (9 April 2010). "Inside the World’s Largest Fact Checking Operation. A conversation with two staffers at Der Spiegel". Columbia Journalism Review. 
  5. ^ ""We stand at a very big cannon!" Aust ranks his influence with the Spiegel - and openly acknowledges that he has enemies.". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Strauss claimed that journalists were like vermin around shit (Ratten und Schmeißfliegen)". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "the best investigative reporting, the widest foreign coverage, the sharpest political analysis, and the most insightful social commentary". The Economist. 14 November 2002. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Lambert, Sarah (29 September 1992). "'Der Spiegel' report hits VW shares". The Independent (London). Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "Holders of sovereign bonds, while taking a so-called haircut, would be guaranteed half the bond’s face value as an incentive to take part in debt restructuring, Spiegel said". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Here's how Spiegel puts it: "Germany is witnessing a stunning political about-face". It said ...". BBC News. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Harding, Luke (14 March 2011). "Der Spiegel has long been a German institution and is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Germany or German politics". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  12. ^,1518,731441,00.html

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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