Emigré Newspaper Finds Buyer

By Nathaniel Popper

Published November 26, 2004, issue of November 26, 2004.
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Eight months after the trans-Atlantic newspaper Aufbau put out what was thought to be its last issue, the German Jewish publication is coming back to life, now on the other side of the Atlantic.

Aufbau was purchased by the Juedische Medien AG, the company that owns Switzerland’s independent Jewish newspaper, Tachles. The editors at the Zurich-based Tachles will begin publishing Aufbau as a monthly magazine in January.

Published in German, Aufbau was founded in New York in 1934 by Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, and its early writers included Thomas Mann and Hannah Arendt. But as émigrés have assimilated into American life, Aufbau struggled to maintain its audience.

“The time of Jewish immigrant newspapers is over,” said Yves Kugelmann, the editor-in-chief of both Tachles and the new Aufbau. “But it’s possible to take the values and journalistic integrity of Aufbau and give it a new future.”

The Aufbau offices in New York City have been shut down, and the Berlin office will now only deal with subscription and business issues. But Kugelmann says that Aufbau still will aim to publish work from journalists around the world to keep Aufbau’s international perspective. All articles in the paper will be in German, rather than the bilingual format utilized by Aufbau over the last few years.

Aufbau’s new Swiss sister paper, Tachles, also comes from a lineage of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Tachles’s forerunner, the Juedische Rundschau, originally was one of the most popular Jewish newspapers in Berlin. In 1938, the owners fled to Basel, where they started the paper again in 1946. The Rundschau merged with the Israelitische Wochenzeitung in 2001 to form Tachles.

With only 6,500 subscribers, Tachles has been looking to expand beyond the audience of 18,000 Jews in Switzerland. Germany, which has no independent Jewish newspaper, has been seen as particularly fertile ground. Kugelmann said the new Aufbau will provide German speakers with in-depth articles about the international Jewish community.

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