Bertelsmann Expose Stirs Controversy in Germany

In Global Trade Talk by Siobhan O'Leary

By Siobhan O’Leary

A book published last week by Campus Verlag is causing quite a fuss at Bertelsmann headquarters in Gütersloh. Bertelsmannrepublik Deutschland is a critical look at the close personal ties between Bertelsmann AG, the corporation, and the Bertelsmann Stiftung, or foundation. The author, Thomas Schuler, particularly calls into question the foundation’s non-profit status and the substantial tax breaks that go along with it. The book was released to great media attention, including articles in many local daily newspapers, as well as radio interviews, and, according to BuchMarkt, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is (perhaps unsurprisingly) not planning to take this criticism lying down. The foundation, which was created in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn, published a rebuttal to coincide with the publication of the book, along with an extensive interview with foundation chairman Gunter Thielen. It also plans to conduct a full legal review of the book.

About the Author

Siobhan O'Leary

Siobhan O’Leary is a literary agent, translator and writer based in Berlin. She previously worked in the Foreign Rights department of the Crown Publishing Group (Random House) and at the publishing consulting firm Market Partners International.