COLOGNE – Controversial deal: The decision to sell 25 percent of Haaretz Group's shares to newspaper and book publisher DuMont Schauberg last week has come under scrutiny as a result of the German publisher's ties with the Nazi regime.
The publishing group's owner at the time, Kurt Neven DuMont – the current owner's father – was reportedly a member of the Nazi party, while his newspapers advanced Nazi ideology. As a result, the publishing house was among the only private ones in Germany whose operations were never outlawed by Hitler.
The publisher's official history makes no mention of historical facts that tie the family to the Nazi regime, even though Kurt Neven DuMont was a member of the Nazi party since 1937. In 1944, he received a prestigious decoration – the same kind also awarded to Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler – because he continued to publish newspapers despite heavy allied bombings.
Meanwhile, some historians and journalists claim that the publisher's management has made an effort to prevent various publications regarding the company's and owners' problematic past.
'No choice but to comply'
However, Israel's former Ambassador to Germany Avi Primor has come to current owner Alfred Neven DuMont's defense. In an article he wrote, Primor described the assistance he received from Neven DuMont in his dealings with Germany's business and political elites and said the publishing group's owner has supported various projects in Israel.
Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken responded to the reports, saying that he is aware that Kurt Neven DuMont was a member of the Nazi party. He noted that although the newspaper chain received orders from the Nazis, it had no choice but to comply with the dictates of a dictatorial regime.
"Alfred Neven DuMont (the current owner of the publishing house) has no Nazi past. He was 12 when the war broke out and almost 18 when it ended," Schocken said. "His actions since he has become an adult speak for themselves. There's no reason to impose on him, or the company he now leads, responsibility for a period before his time. This has nothing to do with finding out the historical truth, which is something that should always be done."