After 134 years of publishing, Argentina’s German newspaper Argentinisches Tageblatt has announced on Facebook that it printed its final edition in Buenos Aires this Friday. The online edition will continue for the time being, it added.
The decision to cease publishing was taken by one of the paper’s co-directors, Dr. Juan E. Alemann, earlier this week. The Times contacted the Argentinisches Tageblatt for comment, but the paper’s directors did not respond.
The news comes after the publication’s editor, Stefan Kuhn, passed away last Saturday (January 7) aged 61 after a long illness. It is understood that Dr. Alemann, who is 94, decided he couldn’t continue to put the newspaper together alone. The paper was also struggling financially.
“Today, Friday (January 13), the last print edition of the Argentinisches Tageblatt was published. This marks the end of an era that began in 1878 with the founding of the Argentinisches Wochenblatt and continued from 1889 under the name still used today. The death of our long-time editorial director Stefan Kuhn hit us hard. In addition, it had become increasingly difficult economically to run a newspaper in German in Argentina. We thank our readers for their many years of loyalty. The Tageblatt's online presence (www.tageblatt.com.ar) will remain for the time being,” said the newspaper in a statement on Facebook.
The decision is not without forewarning. The Argentinisches Tageblatt’s closure is part of a broader trend of German newspapers halting the presses across Latin America, Alemann told DW.com in 2019.
Until Friday, the newspaper was the oldest continually-publishing German newspaper in the region. Johann Alemann, a Swiss immigrant, published the first edition of the Argentinisches Tageblatt in Buenos Aires at the end of April 1889. Initially a daily newspaper, it became the main medium of choice for the German-speaking community in Argentina, covering economic, political and social news.
The Argentinisches Tageblatt is one of more than 150 publications that are entirely or partly published in German in Latin America, according to studies by the German organisation Internationale Medienhilfe.
Domestically, the Tageblatt is Argentina’s only major newspaper published in the German language and its loss will surely be felt greatly by the local German community, which numbers upwards of 200,000 people, according to estimates.
Facebook users lamented the loss of the paper, with many thanking the Tageblatt for its decades of work for the German community. One user wrote, “it was the only newspaper that I could be in contact with my mother tongue,” and another exclaimed, “Part of our History!”
“Thank you for what you have given to the culture of our country,” one user commented.
The Times has reached out to the German Embassy in Buenos Aires for comment.
The newspaper is a family business that has been passed down through the Alemann family for four generations, each of whom have held true to the original mission of "true liberalism and unshakeable conviction.”
During World War II, the paper printed strongly anti-Nazi pieces and its posession was banned in Nazi Germany due to its progressive stance. The paper’s other main domestic competitor of the time, Deutsche La Plata Zeitung, which has since closed, adopted an opposing stance, supporting the National Socialist Party.
As a result, German readers across Argentina expressed their political identity through which newspaper they bought, carefully avoiding the rival publication, reader Harry Ingham told the Times.
“When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, Deutsche La Plata Zeitung became a Nazi backer, whereas the Tageblatt took the opposite direction. As of then, according to which one they bought, the reader´s political identity was clearly expressed, and they would have nothing to do with each other,” he explained. “When the war broke out, the sides became more pronounced than ever.”
The rivalry was not a peaceful one. The Tageblatt’s offices were attacked multiple times both physically and legally, with the German Embassy in Argentina even suing the paper six times. At the height of intimidation, bombs were left at the building where its staff worked.
Yet, the paper, and the family, held strong.
"There is a tradition of commitment. The newspaper was founded by my great-grandfather Juan, followed by my grandfather Teodoro, then my father Ernesto, and now my brother Roberto and I are running it together," Juan Alemann, the newspaper's director, said in 2019.
Throughout the four generations, the Alemann family has tried to keep the paper alive while the German population in Argentina, and the paper’s main audience, shrinks. In 1981, almost 100 years after the paper’s founding, the publication schedule shrunk to once a week. Yet despite economic troubles, the paper continued faithfully printing every Friday.
In its penultimate edition, the paper covered Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s inauguration and upcoming visit to Buenos Aires, the welfare state, and tax revenue decreases. The issue also included a long feature on the late Pope Benedict’s German upbringing before closing with short blurbs with news from Argentina and Latin America.
But it's not over for Argentinisches Tageblatt yet. As one Facebook user commented, “Hopefully this prestigious newspaper with so much history and very good content will continue in the digital version!”