Press Release

Press Release | Gütersloh, 06/07/2021

Biographical Work To Mark Reinhard Mohn Centennial Sheds New Light on Bertelsmann’s Post-War Founder

  • “Reinhard Mohn – Ein Jahrhundertunternehmer”/”Reinhard Mohn – Entrepreneur, Leader, Visionary” to be published as a printed book and e-book in German and English by C. Bertelsmann and as an audiobook by Hörverlag.
  • On Wednesday from 7 p.m., Bertelsmann CEO Rabe will discuss Mohn’s entrepreneurial legacy with the book’s author Joachim Scholtyseck on the “Blue Sofa”; live broadcast on the Internet
  • Kick-off of a wide range of activities to mark the 100th anniversary of Reinhard Mohn’s birth

On June 29, 2021, Reinhard Mohn, one of the outstanding entrepreneurial personalities in German post-war history, would have turned 100. Bertelsmann is paying tribute to his post-war founder and longtime Chairman and CEO, who died in 2009, with a book published today by C. Bertelsmann. It is the centerpiece of a multifaceted centennial program. The biographical work entitled “Reinhard Mohn – Ein Jahrhundertunternehmer” (“Reinhard Mohn - Entrepreneur, Leader, Visionary”) was authored by the renowned business historian Joachim Scholtyseck, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn. The work is being published in hardcover and as an e-book in German and English. In addition, Hörverlag has published a German-language audiobook edition for download, narrated by the actor Walter Kreye. Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe and the work’s author Joachim Scholtyseck will present the book in a conversation moderated by the writer Amelie Fried at Theater Gütersloh on Wednesday evening starting at 7 p.m. The event, part of the “Blue Sofa” literary format, will be streamed live to the general public on the Internet (  ).

“The book ‘Reinhard Mohn – Entrepreneur, Leader, Visionary’ provides a scholarly account of the impressive story of one of Germany’s foremost entrepreneurs, who created the international media group Bertelsmann from a medium-sized Gütersloh publishing house after World War II,” said Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe. “Professor Scholtyseck’s work makes a valuable contribution to understanding the economic history of the early Federal Republic of Germany. It is also written in a very vivid way and is a compelling read. For us at Bertelsmann, it is helpful in understanding even better where we come from and the basis on which we are developing Bertelsmann today.”

Besides the biographical text by Professor Scholtyseck, the book contains many personal documents, including letters and travel notes, as well as previously unpublished photos of Reinhard Mohn the entrepreneur, benefactor, and family man.

“Reinhard Mohn was one of the great German and European entrepreneurial figures,” says Joachim Scholtyseck, summarizing the results of his research on Mohn. “And he has several unique traits that set him apart from other entrepreneurs. The delegation of responsibility, which didn’t exist in this way in other companies at the time. His attitude toward co-determination, participation, and changing values, where he was a trailblazer. And finally, the insight that an entrepreneur’s responsibility extends far beyond his company and into society.” With these characteristics, Mohn truly deserved to be called an “Entrepreneur of the Century,” a title given to him by the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” back in 1998.

For his research on Reinhard Mohn, Professor Scholtyseck was able to sift through Mohn’s complete business estate, which is kept in the Corporate Archives, part of the Corporate Communications department in Gütersloh. “The present biographical work by Professor Scholtyseck is the first independent study that focuses not on Bertelsmann, but on the entrepreneur Reinhard Mohn,” says Karin Schlautmann, Head of Bertelsmann Corporate Communications. Even during his active time at the helm of Bertelsmann, she notes, Mohn was considered to be one of the defining entrepreneurial personalities of the Federal Republic. “Professor Scholtyseck’s study takes a look at Reinhard Mohn the entrepreneur, both in the contemporary context and taking the latest historical findings into account,” Schlautmann continues. “He worked out what set Reinhard Mohn apart, especially with regard to matters of leadership and co-determination.” The ambitious book project took about a year and a half to complete, from initial idea to publication.

The book presentation on the “Blue Sofa” marks the start of a series of activities to mark the Reinhard Mohn centennial. For example, a “virtual commemoration” of Bertelsmann’s post-war founder is planned for June 29, during which Bertelsmann Supervisory Board Chairman Christoph Mohn will speak about his father’s life and work, and other prominent video tributes will be shown. This livestream will be accessible to the general public.

Mohn’s hometown Gütersloh also cherishes the memory of the entrepreneur and benefactor. Back in 1981, the city awarded Reinhard Mohn honorary citizenship on his 60th birthday. To mark Mohn’s 100th birthday, the city of Gütersloh recently renamed the street “An der Autobahn” in the Spexard district “Reinhard-Mohn-Strasse.” The Bertelsmann subsidiaries Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, with its prominently visible high-bay warehouse, and Arvato Systems are headquartered here, among others. The Corporate Archives also took up an idea proposed by Bertelsmann apprentices and created a 12-stop Reinhard Mohn city tour that illustrates Mohn’s life and work in Gütersloh. Some 10,500 employees work for Bertelsmann in the Gütersloh region.
Other centennial activities during the year include an exhibition project and the endowment of a special prize for young founders that will bear Reinhard Mohn’s name.

Reinhard Mohn was born in Gütersloh on June 29, 1921; he represents the fifth generation of the Bertelsmann/Mohn owning families. After returning from captivity as a POW in the U.S., he took over the business of the medium-sized printing and publishing company C. Bertelsmann from his father Heinrich Mohn in 1947. In the decades that followed, he laid the foundation for Bertelsmann’s rise to become a global corporation with more than 130,000 employees in 50 countries. Reinhard Mohn died on October 3, 2009, at the age of 88, but continues to shape Bertelsmann’s corporate values, management philosophy, and entrepreneurial activities to this day.

More information about Reinhard Mohn, including other material and pictures, can be downloaded at:  

Joachim Scholtyseck
Reinhard Mohn – Ein Jahrhundertunternehmer

224 pages
25.00 € [D] 25.70 € [A] 35.90 CHF
C. Bertelsmann
Release date: June 7, 2021

Joachim Scholtyseck
Reinhard Mohn – Ein Jahrhundertunternehmer
Narrator: Walter Kreye
Available for download, 228min
22.95 € [D] 22.95 € [A]
Der Hörverlag
Release date: June 7, 2021

About Bertelsmann
Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in about 50 countries around the world. It includes the broadcaster RTL Group, the trade book publisher Penguin Random House, the magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr, the music company BMG, the service provider Arvato, the Bertelsmann Printing Group, the Bertelsmann Education Group and Bertelsmann Investments, an international network of funds. The company has around 130,000 employees and generated revenues of €17.3 billion in the 2020 financial year. Bertelsmann stands for creativity and entrepreneurship. This combination promotes first-class media content and innovative service solutions that inspire customers around the world. Bertelsmann aspires to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. In 2021, Bertelsmann commemorates the 100th birthday of Reinhard Mohn, the Group's late post-war founder and longtime Chairman and CEO.