1943
Illegal Paper Procurement and Shutdown of the Publishing Company

Following a court case concerning the illegal procurement of paper stocks and as part of the mobilization of Germany's entire business sector, C. Bertelsmann Verlag is shut down in 1944.

During the course of World War II, paper rationing becomes ever stricter. Major printing contracts are now almost exclusively allocated by the state, so the best chance a publisher has of getting work is to have customers in the Armed Forces or the Nazi Party. Because of the high print runs, the publisher needs hundreds of tons of paper, which is a great challenge. Apart from the fact that paper is very scarce, it can only be bought with “paper vouchers” issued by the state for specific print jobs – and the publisher can only get the necessary contacts through middlemen. One of these is Matthias Lackas (1905-1968) of the Deutscher Verlag (German Publishing House) in Berlin, who had passed orders from the Armed Forces to several publishing houses in return for high commissions since the start of the war, including for C. Bertelsmann Verlag from 1941. Nevertheless, the approval process drags on. However, the company in Gütersloh, fully expecting approval to be forthcoming, continues to issue and print orders without permission. The publisher buys the required paper in Holland and Finland. Matthias Lackas is arrested in August 1943 by the Berlin Criminal Investigation Department, and C. Bertelsmann Verlag is also dragged into the scope of the investigation. Following a court case concerning the illegal procurement of paper stocks and as part of the mobilization of Germany's entire business sector, C. Bertelsmann Verlag is shut down in 1944. Charges are brought against three executives, and are only dropped shortly before the end of the war after payment of an administrative fine.

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