Nazi Newspaper Subscriber’s Booklet
By Bruce Kipp
During the realm of the Third Reich, the Völkischer Beobachter(“VB — “The Peoples’ Observer”) was Germany’s largest daily newspaper. Ultimately, it reacheda circulation of 1.7 million copies per day. Printed in three editions (Berlin, Munich, and Vienna), it dominated Germany’s news reporting and consumer advertising.
The periodical had begun in 1887, as the small, suburban newspaper, Munich Observer. Over the years, the paper changed names and owners. In 1900, the Franz Eher Publishing House bought the paper and published it until 1918, when it sold the paper to the Thule Society (the forerunner of the Nazi Party) which changed its name to Völkischer Beobachter. At the end of 1920, Dietrich Eckart purchased it. On 18 December, the Völkischer Beobachter informed its readers that it had been officially acquired by the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) — the Nazi Party.
After the NSDAP acquired the Eher Publishing House, Adolf Hitler became the Editor-in-Chief. In February 1923, the Völkischer Beobachter began appearing twice weekly. After the Nazi attempt to seize power in Munich in November 1923, Germany banned the party and its newspaper.
After Hitler’s release from prison, however, the Völkischer Beobachter resumed publication in February 1925. The paper was reestablished as an important conduit for Party propaganda.
When the National Socialist regime gained total power in January 1933, the paper came to be viewed as a semi-official governmental organ. Its success, however, probably had more to do with the fact that it was the official Nazi Party newspaper rather than for its journalistic excellence.
Although Hitler was still listed on the masthead as the VB’s Editor-in-Chief, the newspaper’s day-to-day operations were managed by two Nazi Party stalwarts: Max Amann, Managing Director of the Fritz Eher Publishing Company and Alfred Rosenberg, Managing Editor of Völkischer Beobachter.
Eventually, shortages of paper, ink, printing presses and lack of manpower caused many German newspapers and periodicals to cease publishing as the war progressed. However, the Völkischer Beobachter had priority of materials and manpower and continued to print until the very last days of the Third Reich.