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Bertelsmann mogul Mohn dies at 88

Reinhard Mohn, who built Germany's Bertelsmann from a family printing and publishing business into one of the world's largest media companies, has died at the age of 88, the firm said on Sunday.

Bertelsmann mogul Mohn dies at 88
Photo: DPA

Mohn, listed at 261 in the Forbes’ 2009 billionaire list with a net worth of $2.5 billion (€1.7), was a Bertelsmann executive for over 60 years, leaving a firm that now employs more than 100,000 people in over 50 different countries.

“Bertelsmann mourns the loss of one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our age,” the current chairman and chief executive officer, Hartmut Ostrowski, said in a statement.

“All of us at Bertelsmann, the entire nation, as well as our friends in Europe and the rest of the world have lost an entrepreneur and benefactor par excellence,” he added.

Mohn died on Saturday after a long battle with illness.

The company he leaves behind is facing serious problems, hammered by falling advertising revenue and the global economic crisis.

Ostrowski is currently overseeing the biggest cost-cutting operation of its history.

In May, the group reported a loss in the first three months of the year of

€78 million compared to a net profit of €35 million in the same period last year.

Among the interests Bertelsmann controls are the RTL and M6 television channels and magazine titles such as Gala and Geo. It also publishes books.

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JEWISH

German newspaper Bild prints cut-out kippa to fight anti-Semitism

German daily Bild published a cut-out-and-use kippa on Monday in a bid to fight rising anti-Semitism, after Jews were warned about the potential dangers of wearing the traditional skullcap in Germany.

German newspaper Bild prints cut-out kippa to fight anti-Semitism
A man wearing a kippa in Hesse. Photo: DPA

Over the weekend, Felix Klein, the German government's commissioner on anti-Semitism, said he “cannot advise Jews to wear the kippa everywhere all the time in Germany”, in an interview given to the Funke regional press group.

READ ALSO: 'Shocked' Israel president says Jews are unsafe in Germany

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin voiced shock at Klein's warning and said it was a “capitulation to anti-Semitism” and evidence that Jews are unsafe in Germany.

Bild, Germany's top-selling daily newspaper, waded into the debate, calling on readers to “stand in solidarity with (their) Jewish neighbours” by making “their own kippa”, bearing the star of David, to “raise the flag against anti-Semitism”.

Rejecting the warning to leave off the kippa “seven decades after the Holocaust”, Bild's chief editor Julian Reichelt wrote: “There is only one answer to that: No, it cannot be the case!

“If that is so, then we have failed in the face of our history,” he said.

Urging readers to cut out the skullcap and wear it, Reichelt stressed that “the kippa belongs to Germany.”

Germany, like other western countries, has watched with alarm as anti-Semitic and other racist hate speech and violence have increased in recent years while the political climate has coarsened and grown more
polarized.

Anti-Semitic crimes rose by 20 percent in Germany last year, according to Interior Ministry data which blamed nine out of 10 cases on the extreme right.

The arrival in parliament of the far-right AfD, whose leaders openly question Germany's culture of atonement for World War II atrocities, has also contributed to the change in atmosphere.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also deplored “another form of anti-Semitism” stemming from a major asylum-seeker influx, with many coming from Muslim countries like Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.

“That the number of anti-Semitic crimes is increasing should be a cause of great concern for all of us in Germany,” Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday.

“It is the task of the state to ensure that everyone can move freely with a kippa anywhere in our country and we stand by that responsibility.”

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has already issued several warnings about wearing the kippa in public.

In one prominent case last year, a 19-year-old Syrian man was convicted for assault after lashing out with his belt at an Israeli man wearing a Jewish kippa skullcap while shouting “yahudi”, Jew in Arabic.

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