In 1903, Franz Burda I laid the foundations for the family company in Philippsburg; five years later he relocated its headquarters to Offenburg. His son, Franz Burda II, evolved the three-man plant into one of Germany's largest printing and publishing houses. He was a visionary and a founding father of the country's postwar "miracle," its economic revival in the mid-20th century. In the 1970s and 1980s, he built new printing works in the United States, and during this period Burda became the world's largest gravure printer.
His wife Aenne Burda also pursued international goals. Even before the fall of the Iron Curtain, her Burda Moden became the first Western magazine to appear in the USSR. Mikhail Gorbachev's wife Raissa helped pave the way: "Burda Moden is my contribution to the democratization of women in the Soviet Union."
When Franz Burda II stepped down in 1987, his son Hubert Burda took over the reins. Since the mid-1990s he has played a pioneering role in developing digital business models. Today, Hubert Burda Media generates more than half its sales in this sector. The group is represented around the world, with around 500 media brands in 14 countries and a workforce of some 10,500. Germany continues to be its wellspring of inspiration: the group's companies are represented at more than 20 sites throughout the country, with the most important locations in Offenburg, Munich, Hamburg and Berlin.
Historically speaking, Burda has always combined tradition with renewal and a cosmopolitan mindset with down-to-earth pragmatism. The media industry has changed rapidly in recent years, with the consumer Internet powering the pace. Digitalization enables Hubert Burda Media to develop new media products and build new relationships with consumers. The ability to tap these products – to kindle enthusiasm and create bonds with our customers, readers and users – will remain the cornerstone of entrepreneurial success in the future. Burda is continuously evolving, and that will never change.
The 2010s: Mastering Change
The 2000s: Burda expands onto the Net
The 1990s: The birth of the New Media
The 1980s: Division of the company following Franz Burda’s death and Burda Moden conquers Russia
The 1970s: Executive roles for the third generation
The 1960s: Sensations and Collaborations
The 1950s: The Economic Miracle
1949: Aenne Burda establishes Burda Moden
1945 – 1949: Textbooks for the French occupation zone and first magazines
1939 – 1945: First multicolored gravure printing
1933 – 1939: Burda switches to gravure printing and buys the Gebrüder Bauer plant in Mannheim
1918 – 1933: Franz Burda II produces his first major publication and takes over his father’s printing operations
1871 – 1918: Franz Burda Druck & Verlag formed
News ticker 2010 Hubert Burda prepares to step back and appoints Paul-Bernhard Kallen as CEO +++ In early March, illustration gravure printing commences in India +++ Print offensive spearheaded by the magazines Mein Schönes Land, Lisa Romance, Instyle Men and Freundin Donna +++ Launch of the Internet Business Cluster (IBC) +++ 2012 Hubert Burda’s term as President of the Association of German Magazine Publishers is renewed +++ Majority interest secured in the career network Xing +++ First edition of the German Harper's Bazaar +++ The German edition of Huffington Post makes its debut +++ 2014 Participation in the Stuttgart-based children's magazine publisher Blue Ocean Entertainment +++ 2015 Burda acquires the eHealth portal Jameda +++ 2016 Cliqz introduces the world's first browser with an integrated search engine and anti-tracking technology +++ Burda makes Thunder-CMS available for free on the web +++ BurdaPrincipal Investments expands its international holdings, taking out interests in services like notonthehighstreet.com +++ BurdaForward's new headquarters opens in Munich +++ 2017 Purchase of the special-interest media and platform provider Immediate Media +++ In July Burda appoints Martin Weiss to the Management Board (International) +++ 2018 Thirty million euros invested in the printing works at Offenburg's freight depot +++ Foundation of “Zukunftspakt Apotheke” that promotes pharmacists’ use of digital technologies +++ 2019 New company name: XING SE becomes New Work SE +++ The German motorists' organization ADAC revamps its member magazine ADAC Motorwelt and initiates a strategic partnership with Burda
When the new decade arrived, Hubert Burda began preparing for his succession, and appointed Paul-Bernhard Kallen, previously responsible for the group's Technology, Finance and International divisions, as Chairman of the Management Board. Hubert Burda remained in the role of personally liable managing partner, and as such continued to steer entrepreneurial and editorial policy. In 2010, he also welcomed his two children, Jacob Burda and Elisabeth Furtwängler, into the group as shareholders. With this fourth generation of the family in place, the group can remain a family enterprise for years to come.
Yet the change was not limited to the executive; the entire group was in a state of flux. Paul-Bernhard Kallen pooled the high-growth, consumer-oriented companies from the New Economy under the umbrella of Burda Digital. In March 2010, the joint venture HT Burda Media Ltd. launched illustration gravure printing in India with the first rotogravure press in New Delhi. India is a gigantic market. The capital's printing presses produce textbooks and teaching materials for African countries, not to mention annual reports that listed Indian companies must distribute to all their shareholders, alongside weekly newspaper supplements. November saw the birth of Burda Direkt Services, a company providing expertise in technology consulting and direct marketing. Additionally, Philipp Welte, the board member responsible for publishing, launched a print offensive and successfully established the magazines Mein Schönes Land, Lisa Romance and InStyle Men. Harper's Bazaar was to follow in 2013.
In 2011, Burda Holding International solidified its positions in boom markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Together with its partners, Burda was publishing some 230 magazines abroad. In Germany alone, it was selling more than 330 million copies of its magazines – and reaching a total of 55.6 million readers a year. As structural change in the media segment accelerated with the advent of tablets and smartphones, the group's domestic publishing operations underwent a transformative process; its full impact was to be felt in the following years.
The Internet Business Cluster (IBC) was established in April 2011 by Burda Digital, Tomorrow Focus AG and ProSiebenSat.1 Digital, with the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich as its academic partner. Its aspiration was to integrate research and practical application and – as a result – turbocharge Germany's competitiveness as a digital hub. Networking with the digital world was also the focus of DLD (Digital, Life, Design). Seven years after its creation, the Burda conference had become an important forum for entrepreneurial visions and ideas. Alongside symposiums in Munich, Moscow and Tel Aviv, global events were scheduled for 2012 in Palo Alto, Istanbul, London, New York and Warsaw. That same year, Burda acquired a majority holding in the Xing career network, purchasing 59.2% at a share price of 44 euros.
In October 2013, Arianna Huffington and Tomorrow Focus AG began collaborating closely on the German edition of Huffington Post. Blending blogs, social media and current affairs in a new breed of news portal, "HuffPost" became the most exhilarating project in German online journalism. Web designers, journalists and programmers also convened for the Burda Hackday – another of Hubert Burda’s initiatives. At the event, project groups competed to identify the best ways to visualize an array of topical data.
"The digital revolution has turned everything upside down, extending to every area of life. And it's only just beginning."
Understanding and mastering new technologies is an immutable feature of Burda's DNA. A case in point, Cliqz became one of Germany's most exciting technology start-ups. Based at Munich's Arabellapark, it was devoted to developing a novel search method designed to deliver results to Internet users more quickly, directly and securely than conventional search engines could. At the start of March 2016, its team presented the world's first browser to include an integrated search engine and anti-tracking technology. Later that same month, Burda released Thunder, a reconfigured, free-of-charge software package for website construction. In 2016, Burda also made its initial investment in the social network nebenan.de, a free online platform for fostering relationships within neighborhoods. During the same year Martin Weiss and his team at the newly created BurdaPrincipal Investments began continuously expanding its international stakeholdings. These included the British e-commerce platform notonthehighstreet.com, the online European marketplace for second-hand fashions Vinted, southeast Asia's foremost fashion platform Zilingo, and the UK's leading online florist Bloom & Wild. After opening a new investment office in Singapore, the company began concentrating its Asian activities there.
In June 2016, the Stuttgart-based children's magazine publisher Blue Ocean celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala event. To mark the occasion, the company posted record sales for the fifth consecutive year. Two years earlier, Burda had already acquired a 50.1 percent stake in the company. The shared objective: to tap synergies on the German market in the areas of digitalization and international licensing. January 2017 saw the acquisition of the special-interest platform company Immediate Media, which publishes some of the UK’s most popular titles – not least the time-honored broadcasting guide Radio Times. Immediate Media was employing more than 1,300 people in London, Bristol and other cities. Thanks to their hard work, every month more than 19 million consumers were interacting with the company's world-class content and innovative products, which also extended to e-commerce and TV shopping.
In 2017 Microsoft established a central newsroom in Berlin that was staffed by some 70 editors from different countries. As a first step, the hub was due to supply MSN and Bing with content for their German, Austrian, Swiss, Swedish and Polish websites, with other European countries to follow. The newsroom was operated by Burda's content marketing agency C3, which had been established at the end of 2014 from a merger between BurdaCreative, KircherBurkhardt and the latter's subsidiary Wunder Media. In 2018 Burda laid down yet another marker, underscoring – with its investment of 30 million euros – the importance of gravure printing in general and its Offenburg printing plant in particular. The funds went toward converting the production halls at the town's freight depot in preparation for relocating printing and other processing equipment from a nearby site two years later. The second construction phase of the modern complex had already been finished in 2009.
On September 13, 2018, the Noweda pharmacists' cooperative and Hubert Burda Media established the "Zukunftspakt Apotheke" initiative. The plan – with its slogan of "Together. Stronger." – entailed a comprehensive strategy for strengthening local German pharmacies. These form the backbone of the country's health system, and provide the medication and professional advice on which the entire nation depends. In spring of 2019, Burda launched a 100-page customer magazine for the local pharmacy segment. My Life has a circulation of 1.15 million and features solid medical journalism and lifestyle pieces. ADAC Motorwelt, published for members of Germany's motoring association ADAC, was relaunched in March 2020 following a comprehensive overhaul. Europe's largest magazine with over a million subscribers, it now also boasts new types of content, a new distribution concept and a new look. The Burda marketing affiliate BCN serves as its general contractor with responsibility for its production, editing, marketing, printing and distribution.
News ticker 2000 Inauguration of the Burda Media Park in Offenburg +++ Focus-Money and Wellfit appear +++ Burda and Vogel Medien Gruppe jointly establish Chip Holding +++ Foundation of Burda Holdings (Thailand) +++ Merger of Focus Digital AG and Tomorrow Internet AG to form Tomorrow Focus AG at the end of 2001 +++ The Burda School of Journalism opens its doors at the Offenburg complex +++ 2002 Acquisition of Guter Rat, publication of Young Lisa +++ 2003 The German edition of Playboy debuts at Burda +++ Burda celebrates its centenary +++ Burda Rizzoli acquires 75% of the Parisian magazine publisher Catherine Nemo Holding +++ Launch of the women's magazine Frau im Trend +++ 2004 Groundbreaking ceremony for the new printing center in Offenburg and inauguration of the completely refurbished Media Tower +++ Burda buys into the television guide TV Today +++ Acquisition of the remaining shares in the publisher Milchstrasse from RCS Rizzoli +++ 2005 First "Digital Lifestyle Day" (DLD) in Munich +++ Aenne Burda dies in Offenburg on November 3, 2005 +++ 2006 The Central Council of German Jews in Germany awards the Leo Baeck Prize to Hubert Burda +++ 2007 Burda acquires the outstanding 50% interest in the Vogel Burda Group (Chip, Chip Xonio) +++ Burda Digital Ventures' investment portfolio becomes one of the group's fastest growing divisions +++ 2008 Philipp Welte succeeds Jürgen Todenhöfer as head of the publishing division +++ The Bambi Awards return to Offenburg to mark their 60th anniversary +++ 2009 Investment in XING AG
To mark Hubert Burda's 60th birthday in 2000, a modern communications hub was inaugurated in Offenburg. With its 16,000 square meters of office space, the 'Media Park' accommodated some 500 employees as well as publishing companies and services that had previously been spread across multiple Burda locations. The futuristic complex on the site of the former Kinzig Stadium was designed by the Düsseldorf-based star architect Christoph Ingenhoven. And the "birthday boy" had two further reasons to celebrate: Erwin Teufel, the Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, invested him with an honorary professorship, and Offenburg Mayor Wolfgang Bruder awarded him the freedom of his town.
The same year saw Focus Digital AG become the first company in the Hubert Burda Media group to be listed on Frankfurt's new technology exchange. The following year the Internet company evolved into Tomorrow Focus AG, after which it rapidly became one of Germany's leading providers of digital media content. Strategic investments in HolidayCheck and ElitePartner, along with the swelling coverage of the news portal Focus Online, shaped the digital company's trajectory in the following years.
Another Offenburg landmark blossomed anew in September 2004: the Burda Media Tower, the 67-meter skyscraper at the Media Center, was fully renovated, completing the modernization of the entire campus. The groundbreaking ceremony for a new Burda printing center was held at Offenburg's former train maintenance works, marking yet another stride into the future. By May of the following year, the first state-of-the-art rotary press had begun operation here.
By 2005, Burda's portfolio had again evolved – the result of strategic acquisitions and divestments at home and abroad. The group purchased the television guide TV Today and the remaining shares in Hamburg’s Milchstrasse publishing group, and also entered the magazine market in the UK. It further expanded its publishing operations in France and eastern Europe. The foundations for the latter had already been laid in 1987 when Burda Moden was introduced in Russia. During her 45 years at the helm, the magazine's iconic founder Aenne Burda had grown her company into the world's largest fashion publisher. On November 3, 2005, surrounded by her family, she passed away at the age of 97. With red roses and a guard of honor, the company employees bade farewell by lining the route to her final resting place in Offenburg.
Five years into the new millennium, the enthusiasm for technology was tangible. There was no huge social media site at the time, no blanket wi-fi coverage and no smartphones, but many innovations were on the horizon. The broad array of media on the internet connected with people. With the first "Digital Lifestyle Day" (DLD) in Munich. Hubert Burda showcased the future of the digital world in collaboration with the Israeli serial entrepreneur Yossi Vardi. More than 400 global experts from the fields of consumer technology, design and media accepted their invitations to the snow-covered Nymphenburg Palace.
"It's important for the media to understand how communication is changing, and with it our markets, cultures and lifestyles. The Digital Lifestyle Day brings together the most exciting minds, allowing us to learn from them and exchange ideas," said the event's host Hubert Burda. In the following years, the Who's Who of the digital world flocked to the "hottest conference in Europe" (Wired). They included Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Systrom, Niklas Zennström, Jack Dorsey, Jimmy Wales, Reid Hoffman, and Lady Gaga.
In the meantime, Burda was creating new digital business areas such as gaming communities and dating agencies, as well as expanding its existing stakeholdings. In 2007, the Burda Digital Ventures portfolio already counted 28 investments and – with a 24.2% increase in sales to EUR 287 million euros – became the group's fastest growing division. The same year, Burda acquired the remaining 50% of the Vogel Burda Group with its successful Chip and Chip Xonio brands. In November 2009, Burda attracted great attention. Through its digital subsidiary, the company dramatically secured 25.1% of the listed company XING AG (today: New Work SE), becoming its largest shareholder overnight.
News ticker 1990 Launch of the magazines Super Illu and Super TV +++ The home magazine Elle Decoration is launched +++ Burda acquires a 16% stake in the Bavarian radio station Antenne Bayern +++ 1991 Burda and Rupert Murdoch launch the newspaper Super! in Berlin +++ Burda buys the Schweriner Volkszeitung and Norddeutsche Neueste Nachrichten newspapers +++ 1992 Investment in the television station RTL2 +++ 1993 First issue of the news magazine Focus +++ 1994 Hubert Burda assumes management of the Aenne Burda publishing house +++ Backed by Burda and other publishers, "Europe Online" goes live in Luxembourg +++ Kick-off for the Academy of the Third Millennium +++ Launch of the women's magazine Lisa +++ 1995 Hubert Burda restructures his company into powerful profit centers +++ Collaboration with the Italian publisher RCS Rizzoli Corriere della Sera +++ Initial investment in the publisher Milchstrasse +++ 1996 Premiere of Focus Online +++ Focus TV goes on the air +++ Burda and Bertelsmann open "Futurekids," a chain of computer academies +++ 1998 Together with publishers Bertelsmann and Springer, Hubert Burda launches the initiative "Partners in Tolerance" to benefit the Shoah Foundation +++ Stake in the Turkish magazine publisher Hürgüc, a joint venture with the Dogan Media Group +++ Foundation stone laid for the Offenburg Media Park +++ 1999 The group is renamed Hubert Burda Media +++ The German licensed edition of the fashion monthly InStyle makes its debut
In 1990, at a time and in a place of dramatic upheaval, a 20-strong East-West editorial team launched the magazine Super Illu in central Berlin. A few weeks before German Reunification, the most exciting media experiment of the era was taking place in the former premises of East Germany's official news agency, the Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst. Hubert Burda had learned to love the country and its people during his travels there. And after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he finally saw the chance for a great adventure: creating a magazine specifically for the people of East Germany. Today, Super Illu is still the most widely-read paid periodical in what was once the Soviet occupation zone.
Under the codename "Zugmieze," work had begun in summer 1991 on a weekly news magazine to be printed in color and cover a broad range of topics. Until then, news journalism in Germany had been monochrome and text-dominated. The magazine Focus blazed a different trail: editor-in-chief Helmut Markwort and his deputy Uli Baur concentrated on "news to use" and the networking of text, image and graphics.
"A few months before Focus was launched on January 18, 1993, our publishing house was facing financial challenges. Lots of people – even company insiders – advised me not to run a second news magazine in Germany. The rest is history. After a few weeks, the magazine successfully established itself on the market and, against all expectations, became a great success."
This novel approach to news revolutionized the media landscape. From day one, Focus came to embody objective reporting, well-researched journalism and practical benefits. In the first half of 1994, the magazine's advertising sales eclipsed all of its rivals by publishing more adverts than any other German print medium.
With the creation of Lisa, named after Hubert Burdas' daughter, a real success story began in 1994. The weekly women's magazine moves easily between the diverse worlds of its readers. In addition to offering fashion and beauty tips, it features advice and service topics – not to mention delicious recipes. Lisa made a breakthrough for weekly magazines catering to young women, and went on to spawn several successful line extensions in the years ahead. Licensed versions of the magazine were published in numerous other countries.
Hubert Burda soon sought to tap the new digital technologies for his company. When Focus made its debut, it also became the first German magazine to be printed using the computer-to-plate process. From the mid-1990s, he regularly visited the creatives behind the new technologies in California, where the first browsers were being coded and the Internet was taking shape. As early as 1994 he joined other publishing houses in launching Europe's first private data network – "Europe Online" – in Luxembourg. In 1996 Focus Online became one of Germany's first news portals, making topical issues and journalistic quality its immediate priorities. One by one, the group's other magazine brands established websites. A spacious virtual TV studio was created for the new Focus TV – an absolute rarity at the time.
Hubert also advanced the strategic globalization of his organization. In 1995 Burda and the Italian publishers RCS Rizzoli Corriere della Sera sealed an international partnership: Burda purchased a 20% interest in RCS Periodici of Milan while Rizzoli acquired 20% of Burda's publishing operations in eastern Europe. Additionally, Burda secured a 40% holding in the Hamburg-based Milchstrasse group which produced the magazines TV Spielfilm, Fit for Fun and Cinema. In 1998, Burda and Rizzoli also acquired a stake in the Turkish magazine publisher Hürgüc in a joint venture with the Dogan Media Group of Istanbul. That year, the Burda Group posted consolidated sales of 2.066 billion deutschmarks – revenues that have doubled since Hubert Burda Media became the sole owner.
Under the guidance of Paul-Bernhard Kallen, who joined the Management Board in 1999, Burda's investment company provided venture capital to start-ups in the New Economy. In the early summer of that year, it also began building its own portfolio of online interests – acquiring shares in Onvista, Ciao, Tomorrow Internet AG, Just Books, Cyberport, Zooplus and Edgar. The group also rebranded as Hubert Burda Media and launched the German version of InStyle, a Time Inc. magazine that proved the most successful new U.S. release in years.
News ticker 1980 First issue of Pan magazine reaches the shops +++ Birth of the periodical Ambiente +++ Aenne Burda's publishing house releases the first issue of Anna +++ 1983 Completion of the headquarters in Munich's Arabellapark +++ Bunte relocates from Offenburg to Munich +++ 1986 First edition of Verena by Aenne Burda +++ New printing plant in Darmstadt completed +++ A Russian delegation visits the Burda printing works and the Aenne Burda publishing house in Offenburg +++ First issue of the magazine Glücks Revue +++ Franz Burda Sen. dies on September 30 +++ Memorandum of understanding to publish Burda Moden in the Soviet Union signed by Aenne Burda and the country's foreign trade publishers +++ The three Burda brothers divide up the group they have inherited +++ Completion of the Meredith/Burda printing plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, U.S. +++ 1987 Franz and Frieder Burda purchase shares in American Meredith/Burda Inc. +++ Burda Moden is published in Russian for the first time +++ New printing plant completed in Vieux-Thann, France +++ 1988 In a joint venture with the French Hachette group, Burda launches a German edition of Elle +++ 1989 The publishers Aenne Burda and Burda handle advertising sales in the West for the Russian government newspaper Izvestia +++ A circulation of over four million makes Burda Moden the world's biggest fashion magazine
"Media is Art." Depicting 25 Bunte covers, the 4.3-meter-high silkscreen print “Magazine & History” by Pop Art pioneer Andy Warhol reflected a generational change. Commissioned by Hubert Burda, the piece was unveiled in 1983 at the opening of the new Burda headquarters in Arabellapark, Munich. That same year, the editorial offices of Bunte relocated from Offenburg to Munich.
Pan was the last product from the forge of Franz Burda Senior. The passionate patron and collector of the arts launched the art periodical in 1980. He passed away on September 30, 1986, in his hometown of Offenburg. The last great patriarch of the German press industry bequeathed his group to his three sons Franz, Frieder and Hubert – with each inheriting an equal share. The brothers agreed to divide their legacy, with Franz and Frieder receiving the shipping companies, printing works, stakes in the Springer group and the paper mills in the U.S. Hubert Burda was allocated the core business with the publishing operations and printing plants in Germany and France. He therefore became the sole owner of the Burda publishing house and its magazines Bunte, Bild + Funk, Freizeit Revue, Glücks Revue, Freundin, Meine Familie & Ich, Das Haus, Mein Schöner Garten, Pan and Ambiente.
His mother Aenne was about to experience her own finest hour. As the Cold War slowly came to a close, her Russian version of Burda Moden became the first joint venture between a Western company and Soviet partner. The leadership in Moscow had good reason to embrace the West: supply shortages, a lack of expertise, and a virtually non-existent export capacity forced it to act. A Russian delegation got the ball rolling when it visited Offenburg on May 13, 1986. Members of the Soviet State Committee – which was responsible for science, technology, printing and publishing – were attending a trade fair in Düsseldorf, and took the opportunity to visit the Burda printing plants and fashion publishing company. On July 3, the ambassador Juli Kwizinski then personally came to Offenburg, and on July 16 Aenne Burda wrote him a letter, proposing either that her company would grant a license to print the magazine in the Soviet Union or it would distribute the finished product itself there. On September 18, she received the reply: "We are ready to negotiate the possibility of publishing the Burda magazine on mutually beneficial terms." In October, Aenne Burda and the Soviet state publishing company signed a memorandum of understanding on a joint venture: Burda Moden was to be published in the USSR. The letter of intent stated that the Soviets would hold a 51% majority interest and that the project should begin as soon as possible. The first step foresaw a 40-page issue containing a sewing pattern – in a print run of between 200,000 and two million. Agreement was reached that 100,000 copies would be delivered free of charge on March 3, 1987 as a pilot phase. The proceeds from the issue's retail and advertising sales were to be reinvested in "the future project." The price was set at 5 rubles (around 8 U.S. dollars), and it was estimated that between 30 and 50 consumers would read each copy. Prior to this, Russians had been paying up to 50 rubles on the black market for the coveted Western magazine.
The first Russian issue reached Aenne Burda hot off the press on February 19, 1987. A day later, two loaded semi-trailers set off from Offenburg – eastward bound; 3,200 kilometers of road lay ahead of them. The words "Burda Moden nach Moskau" ("Burda Moden to Moscow") were emblazoned in bold letters on their sides. The trucks were carrying the first 100,000 copies of the magazine in Russian, along with equipment and 150 dresses for the Burda fashion show in Moscow. Staged on March 3, 1987, in the Palace of the Unions near Red Square, the Burda Moden show was the highlight of the year. 800 Muscovites received invitations through their trade unions. The following day Raissa Gorbachova invited Aenne for tea and said, "All women in our country yearn to be beautiful. Thanks to Mrs. Burda and her practical instructions, our women can now make their own beautiful dresses."
To mark the centenary of Aenne Burda's birth, Mikhail Gorbachev penned a letter to her son Hubert:
"Aenne Burda was a wonderful person. She reacted with great sensitivity to every major event in the world. She made a remarkable contribution to improving relations between our countries. Frau Burda was one of the first to help the USSR when it was facing difficulty. She supported the ongoing reforms in our country with all her energy.
Nature blessed Aenne Burda with talents, a big heart and a deep-rooted humanity. As we in Russia customarily say, she was a human being in capital letters."
In 1988 Hubert Burda initiated another joint venture, this time with the Hachette Group of France. And, in October of that year, the magazine Elle acquired a new German readership.
News ticker 1970 At 1,796,933 copies, Bunte becomes the best-selling magazine in the first quarter +++ Freizeit Revue is published for the first time +++ Construction begins on a printing plant in Lynchburg, Virginia +++ 1971 Introduction of computers +++ Publication of the Burda cookbooks begins +++ Acquisition of Meine Familie & Ich +++ 1972 Debut issue of Mein Schöner Garten +++ Freizeit Revue achieves a circulation of over one million +++ 1973 Franz Burda Sen. delegates management responsibilities to his three sons: Hubert Burda heads the publishing division, Franz Burda Jr. the printing plant in Offenburg and Frieder Burda the Darmstadt plant +++ 1974 Inauguration of the new Burda Moden building in Offenburg +++ Burda Moden published in 14 languages and 125 countries +++ 1975 First issue of Cinema +++ 1976 Franz Burda Sen. appoints his son Hubert to succeed him as editor-in-chief of Bunte +++ The paid circulation of Burda Moden passes 2.5 million +++ 1976 Striking means hiking +++ 1977 Burda Modenverlag publishes Carina +++ 1978 Launch of the magazine Chip
In 1970, Franz Burda Sen. was 67 years old and still effervescent with energy and ingenuity. He launched Freizeit Revue that boasted crossword puzzles and a large, four-color travel section. The magazine, which was printed on a rotogravure press, had an initial circulation of 600,000 copies. Two years later it had topped a million. That same year the monthly Mein Schöner Garten made its debut, and the nature-loving publisher celebrated with a garden party in Monte Carlo, at which Princess Grace of Monaco was the guest of honor. By its fourth issue, the gardening magazine was already reaching 500,000 readers.
Franz Senior increasingly involved his sons in company operations. His eldest, Franz Burda Jr., was instrumental in building a rotogravure printing plant in Lynchburg, Virginia in conjunction with the Meredith Corporation. On October 13, 1971, a Boeing 707 had taken off for Washington DC, chartered by Franz Sen. for 120 guests, including former German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, Bavaria's Finance Minister Otto Schedl, the Baden-Württemberg Minister for Federal Affairs Adalbert Seifriz, and boxing legend Max Schmeling. In Lynchburg, the party inaugurated the first of three printing plants in the United States – celebrating the event with the slogan "We're the best printers in the world." The two Cerutti 502 rotogravure presses could churn out 30,000 copies of a 48-page product in a single hour. Every month, the plant processed 1,800 metric tonnes of paper. Published in gravure quality starting December 1971, the Meredith magazine Better Homes and Gardens had 7,777,777 subscribers.
In 1973, Franz Sen. officially delegated management roles to his three sons. Hubert Burda was allocated responsibility for the publishing sector and, in 1976, named editor-in-chief of Bunte. In a symbolic gesture, his father presented him with a bouquet of snowdrops to mark his appointment. Hubert Burda had all the experience needed to steer the company's flagship product into the future. Inspired by the Pop Art icon Andy Warhol, he turned informational content into entertainment and the publication as a whole into Germany's first general-interest magazine. He described this in his book The Story of Bunte (2012):
"But the most exciting thing was that Andy Warhol flew from New York to the small town of Offenburg to photograph my father. From that point onwards, the two of us were friends. We met up frequently in New York, St. Moritz, Munich. He once showed me his Index book from 1967, which contained various ideas for magazines. These included an optical disk in an envelope that was glued inside the publication – prefiguring an idea subsequently used in Chip, which had software CD's enclosed. At one of our meetings – when I was already editor-in-chief of Bunte – Andy said to me: 'Hubert, you are so rich, you have 4.8 million readers at Bunte. My magazine – Interview – only has 500,000.' That provided the spark for my initiative to turn Bunte into a general-interest magazine. As editor-in-chief, I adopted two basic principles that I also emphasized during my rounds to the agencies: Bunte stands for the pursuit of happiness, a concept Bazon Brock taught me to appreciate, and Media is Art, which I owe to Andy Warhol."
In the printing-industry wage negotiations that same year, the positions adopted by trade unions and employers hardened. Franz Senior looked for a solution of his own. As the owner of a publishing company, he felt an obligation to his peers at the major corporations. Yet as a trained printer, he also felt an allegiance to his workforce. Franz resolved this conflict of interests with an unconventional decision: he voluntarily halted production on the days of the strike. Overnight, the publisher planned a company outing and, the following morning, enough buses for 2,500 people were ready and waiting in town. Local bakeries and butchers sold out in no time before the buses set off on a gigantic picnic. The Burda Company Orchestra provided the entertainment and when it played a popular song of the day – Such a day, as beautiful as today – everybody chimed in with "Such a strike, as beautiful as today, such a strike, should never fade away!" April 30, 1976 went down in the annals of German history as the day of "Labor strikes, Baden-style."
News ticker 1960 Merger of the magazines Bunte and Münchner Illustrierte +++ The print run for Bunte passes one million +++ 1961 First Bal paré in Munich +++ 1962 Purchase of the Neue Verlagsgesellschaft (NVG) with its publications Freundin and Film Revue +++ Aenne Burda's publishing house builds its own photographic atelier +++ 1963 Sports field for Burda employees +++ Aenne Burda opens a cooking studio +++ Burda Moden acquires the fashion magazine Beyer Moden +++ 1964 Relocation to the new administrative complex in Offenburg +++ 1965 Burda Moden circulation reaches one million +++ 1966 Introduction of a punch card system for data processing +++ Hubert Burda takes over management of the new publishing house in Munich +++ 1967 Construction of new printing plant completed in Offenburg +++ Aenne Burda's company begins regular production of specials +++ 1968 The print run for Burda Moden reaches 1.5 million +++ 1969 Workforce at the Burda publishing house totals 5,000 +++ Aenne Burda publishes the men's magazine M +++ Partnership with the Meredith Corporation based in Des Moines, Iowa
Completed in 1964, the new Burda administration complex in Offenburg was almost 70 meters high. Topped with an illuminated B-U-R-D-A sign and the town's only skyscraper, it was visible from afar and soon became the town's main landmark. More than a monument to Franz Burda Senior's success, it was a statement of allegiance, forged in steel and concrete, to his homeland. "There are 4,000 Offenburgs in Germany," he said, citing the town's modest size as a key to success. It was here that he held the reins: as a printer, publisher and the editor-in-chief of Bunte, in which he covered the standout events of the era. He dispatched journalists to the Holy Land with Pope Paul VI in 1963-64, reported on the first heart transplant by South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard in 1967, and printed the first pictures of the moon landing in 1969.
"At 3:40 a.m. CET on July 21, 1969, 109 hours, 7 minutes and 35 seconds after the launch of the Saturn V rocket with Apollo 11 from Cape Kennedy, the exit hatch of the lunar module Eagle opened. Sixteen minutes later, Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the surface of the moon. Shortly afterwards he was joined by the astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin. One of humankind's most alluring aspirations had finally come to fruition. The pictures of the launch and the images transmitted from the moon were soon on my desk – in time to print them the next day and get them to the newsstands. Our photos even stole a march on the American press gathered at the launch site. 'Burda was there first' was our claim when publishing the material brought back by the astronauts. I was the very first member of the press to literally get their hands on the photos."
"The Flight to the Moon" – as the special edition of Bunte was titled – sold 500,000 copies. A book about the space pioneer Wernher von Braun – Mein Leben für die Raumfahrt – became a bestseller.
Hubert Burda was a visionary in other respects as well. The youngest son of Aenne and Franz Burda held a doctorate in Art History. Yet he was the one to introduce a punch card system in 1966, laying the cornerstone for the company's digital future. "With it," the Burda employee magazine reported, "data processing – today's most advanced tool for management – has made its carefully planned debut in our company." That same year, Hubert Burda's father named him director of the new publishing complex in Munich. And having therefore become publishing director of Bild + Funk, Hubert appointed Helmut Markwort as the magazine's editor-in-chief. He also published the men's magazine M via Aenne Burda's company.
Franz Burda Jr., who ran the printing plant in Offenburg, initiated a partnership with the Meredith Corporation, which was producing the successful magazine Better Homes and Gardens from its headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. His formula for success: "Papa, we'll introduce America to gravure printing!"
Aenne Burda's publishing company built its own photographic atelier and cooking studio, bought out the fashion magazine Beyer Moden with its circulation of 300,000, and was selling 1.5 million copies of Burda Moden a week by 1968.
With the purchase of Film Revue, Franz Burda Sen. also took charge of the annual presentation of the Bambi Film Awards. First conferred in 1948, they are now Germany's top media prize. Every year from 1961 to 1970, Aenne and Franz Burda celebrated the Bal paré gala at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich – in the company of international stars and famous faces from the worlds of politics and business.
News ticker 1950 First edition of Burda Moden is published +++ Franz Burda Sen. is appointed Honorary Senator of the Karlsruhe University of Technology +++ 1951 Burda opens first offices in Munich +++ Burda Moden moves from Lahr to Offenburg +++ 1952 Installation of new Goebel brand rotogravure press +++ Sürag is renamed Bild + Funk +++ Burda institutes company health insurance scheme +++ Burda starts producing its employee magazine Die Burda-Familie +++ Burda Moden begins selling individual sewing patterns +++ 1953 New administration building and printing plant completed in Offenburg +++ Work begins on a new Burda Moden publishing building based on a design by Egon Eiermann +++ The first issue of Burda International is published +++ 1954 Das Ufer is rebranded Bunte +++ 1955 The aircraft of the Burda Squadron take to the skies +++ Burda introduces sick pay 15 years before relevant legislation is introduced +++ 1957 The paid circulation of Burda Moden reaches half a million +++ Bunte is published weekly with a circulation of 500,000, Bild + Funk with 445,000 +++ 1958 Construction of employee housing in Offenburg +++ 1959 Hermann Waldbaur sells Burda publications in Austria
"I was there, I witnessed Germany's economic miracle! It was the happiest time of my life! Of course, we weren't all rich. Nobody was rich, that was what made it so wonderful. The question was not: Is he rich? It was: What are his skills, what can he accomplish?" Those were Aenne Burda's impressions when recalling the 1950s and her early days as a publisher. In January 1950, the first issue of Burda Moden appeared in a print run of 100,000 copies. By 1957 its circulation was already half a million. Hard work, a gift for hiring the right people, and perfectly-fitting sewing patterns were the ingredients of her success. Moreover, Aenne Burda knew what German women wanted after those drab war years: they wanted to feel beautiful. And Aenne Burda set out to help them do just that.
She commissioned the architect Egon Eiermann to design the first Burda Moden publishing plant and had it built in Offenburg. Her husband was investing too: in a new Goebel rotogravure press, a new administration building, a new printing plant. And in his employees, the "Burda family." He launched a health insurance plan at the company, introduced pay for sick employees 15 years before it became mandatory, and built a residential development for his workforce. In addition, he subsidized – to the tune of 5,000 marks – every house that an employee purchased. "I want my skilled workers to own their own homes," he stated, repeatedly underscoring the responsibility he felt as an entrepreneur. "I don't think of myself as an employer or a benefactor. We're all in this together. You are not my employees. We are partners in a community. I am your fellow colleague, and you are mine."
Franz Burda was just as imaginative in marketing as he was in the social sector. In 1955 he bought an American Piper PA-18 Super Cub, a propeller-powered monoplane, thus laying the foundations for the Burda Squadron. In the years that followed, four Piper aircraft could be seen crossing the skies of central Europe – and pulling banners up to 60 meters long that advertised Burda magazines. In one breathtaking feat of 1958, the aircraft landed on the Zugspitze mountain in the Alps. Until the planes were retired at the end of 1973, the Squadron also took part in air shows, provided aid when avalanches struck, delivered medication, transported celebrities who were in a hurry, and gave rides to children who had won Bild + Funk competitions.
1949 Founding of the Federal Republic of Germany
News ticker Aenne Burda purchases sewing pattern publisher in Lahr and establishes Burda Moden
On December 28, 1948, Aenne and Franz Burda signed a post-nuptial contract at the Baden Notary's Office in Offenburg, in which they agreed on the separation of property. Aenne Burda became the sole owner of her fashion publishing company; its registered address was that of the former “Wirtschaft zum Bädle” inn south of Offenburg. The publishing house – which had been established by Franz Senior in 1947 and run by his mistress Elfriede Breuer since – had debts totaling 200,000 marks and a workforce of 48.
1945 – 1949 Allied Occupation
News ticker 1945 The Burda printing works is sequestered by the authorities +++ Franz Burda is arrested +++ Printing of textbooks and postage stamps for the French occupation forces +++ 1948 The first issue of Das Ufer, later renamed Bunte, is published +++ 1949 Publication of the radio guide Sürag restarts +++ License acquired for the magazine Das Haus
On April 15, 1945, the war ended in Offenburg. The Burda printing plant was seized by the French military, and Franz Burda had to disclose his remaining business assets. In a wine cellar in a small village just outside Offenburg, he had stored six Linotype machines, a rotogravure press, four sheetfed gravure presses, two high-speed letterpress machines, collating and stapling equipment, and three-knife trimmers. His printing plant also had a large stockpile of paper, ink and solvents – which he had buried in a valley in the Black Forest. Twenty-five kilometers away in Lahr-Dinglingen, the rotary presses from Mannheim had survived the war unscathed. The printing plant itself had been bombed flat in an air raid. But it didn't take long for the American forces, whose occupation zone included Mannheim, to report the Aryanization of the plant to their French counterparts in Offenburg. Burda was arrested, but Berthold Reiss – the Jewish, former co-owner of the plant – intervened and he was released. He was allowed to resume printing operations, albeit under instruction from the French. His first job was to produce maps of France on a scale of 1:50,000 for the Service Géographique.
In September, Burda received a visit from the Swiss publisher Bruno Grimm, the son of the politician Robert Grimm. The military government had commissioned him to produce new textbooks for schools in the French occupation zone. Grimm visited the plant and engaged Burda to print teaching materials and textbooks – which were initially based on existing Swiss texts. In 1947 General Raymond Schmittlein, the French general responsible for education in Baden-Baden, ordered the production of new German versions. From then on, 300 Burda employees in Offenburg and Lahr were entrusted with printing millions of readers, arithmetic primers and works of German literature – around the clock in three shifts. The orders were placed by Offenburg Mainz, a specialist publisher of educational materials established by Schmittlein himself.
Shortly before the introduction of the deutschmark in 1948, Franz Burda was summoned to Baden-Baden by General Marie-Pierre Koenig. The Commander-in-Chief of the French occupying forces wanted him to print adhesive postage stamps. Burda managed to repair a burnt-out perforation machine, and three months later printed the first series of stamps. They featured geographical themes such as Baden, Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and the Saar region. Burda's company was to maintain a German post office on its premises until stamp production ended in 1949.
As early as 1945, Franz Burda had applied to publish magazines under license, but he was not allowed any publications of his own. On behalf of the French forces he published a newspaper for soldiers – the Revue d'Information – and from 1948 Das Ufer, which was produced by General Schmittlein. Burda subsequently acquired this pictorial magazine and renamed it Bunte. In 1949 he was granted the licensing rights to Das Haus. That same year, he received permission to resume distributing the radio magazine Sürag, which was later rebranded Bild + Funk.
1939 – 1945 World War II
News ticker 1940 Birth of Franz Senior's son Hubert +++ 1941 Publication of the radio guide Sürag halted +++ 1942 Printing of ordnance maps +++ 1943 Burda prints first multicolored aerial maps
He was too young to bear arms in World War I and too old for World War II, but Franz Burda feared for his livelihood if not his life. In 1941, after Germany's Ministry of Propaganda issued a ban on radio guides, he suspended publication of Sürag. Burda cooperated with the authorities and printed the monthly magazine Die Deutsche Arbeitsfront for the country's united federation of employees and employers. From the Berlin paper wholesaler Buhrbanck, he also received key orders for field post and self-mailers. He offered to print ordnance maps for the Director of Military Planning and was asked to produce a sample. His print, which rendered a strip of the Sahara Desert on a scale of 1:200,000, was favorably received. In 1942 he was commissioned to print all the ordnance maps needed for Rommel's North African campaign. A year later, he received a follow-up order for aerial maps based on photographs taken at an altitude of 7,000 meters. The following month, Franz Burda presented the world's first multicolored aerial map to be gravure-printed. Showing the Soviet town of Cherkasy, it proved a technological sensation.
1933 – 1939 Rise of the National Socialists
News ticker 1935 Burda invests in a modern printing and publishing building +++ The 100th employee is hired +++ The company switches to gravure printing +++ 1936 Birth of son Frieder +++ Burda has 130 employees +++ Purchase of the Gebrüder Bauer printing works in Mannheim +++ Workforce increases to 600
In 1935 Franz Burda earned his first million and immediately invested in new premises. At Hauptstrasse 13, the main street in Offenburg, he constructed a modern printing and publishing plant that was 40 meters long and 15 meters wide. That same year he had another watershed moment. For the first time in his life, he set eyes on a rotogravure printing press at the Scherl publishing company in Berlin.
"I saw a dream come true here, a piece of equipment I had often imagined. This revolutionary new gravure technology became incalculably important for my future. I was flabbergasted: speeds of between 8,000 and 9,000 pages an hour, both sides of the paper printed, and all in a quality that I found simply stunning."
Franz Burda purchased one of these technological wonders at a price of 150,000 marks. He needed major orders from third-party customers to keep the press working to capacity. These he acquired in the mail-order companies Wenz and Schöpflin along with Germany's leading savings bank, and he printed their catalogs and calendars respectively. By 1937 he had 130 employees working in photography, retouching, montage, copying, etching, printing and bookbinding. Having already joined the National Socialist Motor Corps in 1934, Franz Burda became a member of the Nazi Party on October 1, 1938. In July 1938 he had received a visit from Max Kahn, the owner of a major paper works in Mannheim and a good friend of his late father.
"He complained that the Nazis were forcing Jews to give up their businesses and that he was on the brink of bankruptcy. The Reiss family, friends of his and owners of the Mannheim company Gebrüder Bauer, wanted to know whether I would Aryanize their company, and had asked him to find out. I told Mr. Kahn that I had little interest in doing so. He implored me to help his friends, who had found themselves in a desperate situation ... A few days later we met in Mannheim and visited Berthold Reiss, his brother Ludwig and their cousin Karl in their offices at Akademiestrasse 12 .... At our very first meeting, I told them that I lacked the liquidity to buy the business, that my own fledgling company still needed investments, and that I could not possibly raise a sum estimated at between 750,000 and one million marks. They asked me to try and find a partner who could help ... A fortnight later, I visited Mr. Fritz from the Südwestdruck printers in Karlsruhe and asked him if he was interested in becoming a partner. He agreed, but only on the conditions that we took out equal shares and that I personally managed the company. A few days later we traveled to Mannheim and reached an oral agreement."
On September 1, 1938, Franz Burda and Karl Fritz made an initial payment of 375,000 marks to the three owners. In total, the company cost them 625,000 marks. At this point Burda moved to Heidelberg with his wife and children, from where he could oversee its operations. Until the outbreak of war, he shared the executive office with Berthold Reiss. Reiss, who was Jewish, and his wife, the actress Maria Petri, survived the Nazi era in Heidelberg. Their only son Hans emigrated to Ireland.
1918 – 1933 Weimar Republic
News ticker 1923 Franz Burda Sen. works at his father's printing company +++ 1927 The company's very first publication, the radio guide Sürag, is launched +++ 1928 Franz Sen. writes doctorate on the commodity exchanges in Baden +++ 1929 Franz Sen. completes his apprenticeship in book printing +++ Franz Burda I passes away and Franz Burda Sen. begins running the printshop with a journeyman and an apprentice +++ 1930 Franz Sen. qualifies as a master craftsman in book printing +++ 1931 Wedding of Franz Burda and Anna Magdalene Lemminger +++ 1932 Birth of Franz Burda Jr. +++ Burda employs 13 staff +++ The Sürag reaches a circulation of 100,000 copies
After graduating from high school, Franz Burda Senior began a commercial apprenticeship in 1921 at the Süddeutsches Handels-, Kommissions- und Agenturgeschäft – a trading company in Offenburg. He simultaneously attended evening courses in law and political science at the University of Freiburg, before continuing his studies in Vienna, Munich and Erlangen. He completed an advanced degree in Economics in 1927. During this period, he also spent time working at his father's print shop and, in January 1927, began publishing the periodical Sürag. Regular broadcasts had begun in Germany four years earlier, prompting the emergence of the first radio guides. But Franz Burda was blazing a new trail with his version. In addition to comprehensive listings and illustrations, it contained articles on the programs and an extensive entertainment section. Initially it had a print run of 3,000 copies but, seeing radio vendors booming as a result of the increased demand, Franz Burda sensed his opportunity. In 1931, he came up with the idea: "Visit all their shops, hand them a pile of advertising material and guarantee them two marks commission for each subscription they sold with a radio." The strategy worked like a charm. By the end of 1931, Sürag had 24 pages and a weekly circulation of 53,000. Every day, completed order forms dropped into his mailbox, earning the young publisher at least 50,000 marks of subscription fees per month. At the end of 1933, the circulation had grown to 100,000.
"When I took over my father's business, I already knew that a print shop needed a regular supply of good orders to flourish. Until 1929, I scoured Offenburg and its surroundings for customers. But as hard as I tried, the best I could ever do was to keep the plant afloat. Whenever I was trudging through the streets, I always kept an eye out for the chance to get my foot on the first rung of the ladder and climb my way out of the fix I found myself in. The opportunity came one day when I switched on my small black radio receiver. All of a sudden it dawned on me that I could use the new medium of radio to arouse interest in my company. Out of the blue came the idea of a magazine containing the full radio schedules. A name for the still imaginary publication immediately sprang to mind too. I called it Sürag, an abbreviation for South German Radio Newspaper."
Alongside his successful publishing work, Franz Burda wrote a doctoral thesis, completed his apprenticeship in book printing and qualified as a master craftsman in that field as well. In 1931 he married Anna Magdalene Lemminger, the daughter of a train driver from Offenburg, and became a father for the first time a year later. By 1933 the 30-year-old had already achieved a great deal. And he was planning to expand.
1871 – 1918 German Empire
News ticker 1903 Franz Burda I publishes the Philippsburger Zeitung newspaper +++ Franz Burda II is born on February 24 +++ 1908 The first Burda print shop opens in Offenburg +++ 1909 Anna Magdalene Lemminger (Aenne Burda) is born on July 28 +++ 1916 Relocation of print shop to premises behind the Burg butcher's shop in Offenburg
Franz Burda I, the son of an eastern Bohemian milliner, was born on December 31, 1873, in Offenburg. His father died young and, when he turned 14, Franz started training as a printer. In 1891 he completed his apprenticeship and then worked for seven years as a typesetter and printer. At the age of 25 he left Offenburg and took up a job at Otto Pröttel's printing plant in Philippsburg. When the owner passed away three years later, Franz married his widow Karoline Pröttel and assumed ownership of the plant. From 1903, the Philippsburger Zeitung newspaper operated under the company name Druck und Verlag Franz Burda. But business was not good and, by 1907, Burda was bankrupt. The following year, seeing no prospect of success in Philippsburg, the 24-year-old decided to try his luck back in his hometown. In a building behind Gerberstrasse 16, he opened his first printing plant in Offenburg. It measured just four by eight meters. His two main assets from Philippsburg – a jobbing press and a high-speed Koenig & Bauer press purchased in 1897 – served as his starting capital. As the owner of a small business and head of a family with nine children, Franz was always in financial difficulty, but he refused to be discouraged or downhearted. Humor and music were the perfect antidotes to his worries.
"Even the ever-cheerful Franz Burda cannot fail to notice that his business is in dire straits. The small town of Philippsburg was no place to sustain a small print shop. Twice a week a four-page local newsletter was published, for the most part carrying official notifications, but there was no other demand for printing services. At the time, the town hadn’t even been electrified yet, so the wheel on the press had to be turned by hand. My father and my mother Josefine took turns replacing the paper and adjusting the print cylinder and ink rollers."