History of the Burda Family Business in the 20th Century

The research project examines the history of the Burda family and its business over the course of three political systems (Weimar Republic, Third Reich, Federal Republic of Germany) and thus aims to contribute to an integrated history of media, society and mentality. Founded in Offenburg, Baden, in 1908, the print shop quickly grew into a major printing and publishing house driven by innovations in media technology. Thus, Franz Burda’s (1903–1986) first entrepreneurial success was the publication of a program guide (Sürag) for the newly invented radio, which began to spread in the second half of the 1920s. In the wake of the National Socialist Gleichschaltung of the media, the magazine’s importance and circulation grew. Burda now expanded its printing plant with a state-of-the-art gravure press. By taking over the then most modern and largest German printing company, Gebrüder Bauer in Mannheim, whose Jewish owner was forced to sell, the company participated in the Nazi policy of »Aryanisation«. During the war, the company was also involved in industry-specific war production. After 1945, the company’s entry into the magazine business, made possible by rapid denazification and clever arrangements with the French occupying power, laid the foundation for the family’s post-war success. In 1950, Aenne Burda introduced a fashion magazine and, two years later, a mail-order business with dress patterns. Since the 1990s, the company has been operating as Hubert Burda Media Holding KG.

The research project is led by an independent research commission, which includes Prof. Dr. Norbert Frei (Jena), PD Dr. Tim Schanetzky (Essen) and Prof. Dr. Sybille Steinbacher (Frankfurt am Main). Another part of the project is hosted by the University of Frankfurt (Main) at the Lehrstuhl zur Geschichte und Wirkung des Holocaust (chair of history and impact of the Holocaust).