Biography of Rudolf Augstein (1923-2002)

Editor and German journalist, founder of the prestigious weekly Der Spiegel, born in Hanover on November 5, 1923 and died on November 7, 2002. From the pages of your publication became one of the most influential personalities of the German business and political scene in the second half of the 20th century.

Vocational journalist, he finished school and was employed as an intern in a journal of his hometown (Hannoverscher Anzeiger). Since then and until the end of his life he drew a career marked by his deep democratic convictions, the combative spirit and tireless fight against obscurantism in the exercise of power. He only interrupted this long career as a columnist and political analyst when he was drafted by the German army to participate in the second world war. He was captured by German troops and he stayed for some months in a prison camp, but soon attained a job in a newspaper of Hanover which is edited under the supervision of the British. In 1946, already signed the capitulation of Germany, Augstein had become the young editor and director of Diese Woche, the magazine that, only a year later, was renamed Der Spiegel and began a prosperous path in the history of German journalism.

With the commitment to work for the regeneration of the structures of the nation and the morale of the people after the disaster of the war, Augstein created a platform from which to exercise a militant journalism, research-minded and complaint, which managed to uncover some of the most relevant scandals of the ruling classes and have an impact, as any other means of communication with their weekly, in the political life of the country.

Journalist radically independent, rigorous and incisive its efforts to illuminate the dark bowels of the power it was often in the spotlight of the political class, who waged memorable battles. Among the best-known, biographers recall the confrontation of the journalist with the Chancellor Adenauer and his Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Strauss, in 1962. During the cold war, Der Spiegel published an article about maneuvers of NATO in which was revealed the German plans of acquisition of weapons and defense capability of the country in the event of a Soviet attack. At the request of the holder of the defense, the author of the article, Conrad Ähler, was arrested in Spain, while Augstein was accused of high treason and imprisoned in Germany. The case caused a political scandal without precedent in the Adenauer Cabinet, who finally had to allow the release of Strauss and the resignation of five liberal ministers in its Executive.

This and other dark politicking uncovered by Der Spiegel weekly, with a circulation of over one million copies, granted an extraordinary influence as a generator of reference and public opinion forced for the German business and political class which, explicitly or implicitly, agreed to recognize the weight of the publication and its editor in the history of modern Germany. Although in the last years of his life delegated the management of the weekly in the director, Stefan Aust, readers enjoyed until the end of the rigorous analysis and relentless criticism from one of the best professionals in the history of German journalism.