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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Reinhard Mohn

Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities 1998

Reinhard Mohn (Gütersloh, Germany, 1921 – 2009) has been the founder of the Bertelsmann Group, one of the world´s most important consortiums in the publishing and communications sector. During World War II he was taken prisoner while a lieutenant in Rommel´s "Afrika Korps" and transferred to the United States. He used his time there to educate himself and to study the most relevant economic theory of the day. With the conflict ended, he returned to the village where he was born, and, at age 25, decided to raise the publishing business started by his grandfather Karl Bertelsmann in 1835 out of the rubble left behind by the war. Proponent of an integrated management model that gives priority to worker participation and joint decision- making, Mohn has focused his efforts on the diffusion of culture through the publishing of books and other publications, the creation of libraries, and the promotion of reading.

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The Bertelsmann Group owns publishing houses, print and audio-visual media, record companies, Internet distributors and providers, etc. Among them are the American companies Double Day and Random House (the largest publisher in that country, which was recently acquired), the magazines Stern, Muy Interesante, and Geo, the BMG and RCA record companies, and book clubs-with more than 35 million members-among which, in Spain, is the Círculo de Lectores (Readers´ Circle), employing more than 60,000 persons in 200 centres located throughout the world.

But Reinhard Möhn´s commitment to culture has not been limited to developing this publishing and communications empire, which, as he has admitted, "is the consequence of work". Thus, in 1977 he gave up his executive positions and created the Bertelsmann Foundation, of which he is president. From this post, which he still occupies, he created the library of his city, supplying it with 150,000 volumes, established an award to acknowledge those educational models that promote freedom and responsibility, and helped to establish relations between the European Union and the countries of the Middle East (through the creation, for example, of the "Mubarak" Library in Cairo), in addition to establishing a dialogue between the German and Jewish communities.

On another front, Reinhard Möhn has shown his affinity with Spain on numerous occasions. This is evidenced by the fact that his first business initiative outside of Germany, in 1962, consisted in creating the Círculo de Lectores in Spain. Moreover, not only has he established one of his residences in Majorcan locale of Alcudia, but he has also created an exemplary library in the city, furnishing it with important bibliographic resources, an initiative which is spreading throughout the entire country via the Bertelsmann Foundation.

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