Portrait of Dietrich Oppenberg

Strong-Headed Individuals

In a row on the wall you will see five portraits – four paintings and a bronze head. The first two portray Dietrich Oppenberg and Anton Betz, who were granted the first licences to circulate independent newspapers by the British military administration. They founded the Neue Ruhr Zeitung in Essen and the Rheinische Post in Düsseldorf. They fought for editorial independence and locked horns with politicians over the issue – not least with Konrad Adenauer. Not until 1948 did paper and distribution channels become widely available again, upon which Erich Brost – third in the row – established the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung as a regional paper for the Ruhr area. Reinhard Mohn, on the other hand, assumed the leadership of the book publisher Bertelsmann in Gütersloh after the war. He introduced modern corporate structures and made media and culture available to a broad cross-section of society. Finally, Klaus von Bismarck, portrayed in the bronze sculpture, was director of the public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk from 1961. He established a critical culture of debate in which radio and television became leaders of political opinion. Self-confident publishers and directors laid a democratic foundation in the wake of National Socialism, and it is upon this foundation that the entire media landscape of North Rhine-Westphalia was built.