JERUSALEM (Sep. 26)
“Israel has lost a man who was very close to her,” Mayor Teddy Kollek said in his eulogy for Axel Springer, the West German publishing empire mogul who died Sunday night in West Berlin of a heart attack. He was 73 years old.
Kollek said he had also lost a personal friend, whom he had known for 20 years. The mayor noted that Springer regarded Jerusalem as his second home. Springer owned a house on King David Street.
Kollek recalled that Springer came to Israel during her most difficult times, such as the first days of the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. “He used to defend the case of Israel in every form and every forum,” Kollek said. “He was a central fighter against the supply of German arms to Arab countries. He did his utmost to prevent the sale of Leopard tanks to Arab armies. There was not one speech of his in which he failed to mention Jerusalem.”
Premier Shimon Peres also expressed sorrow over the death of Springer, whom he described as a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people.
Journalist Francis Ofner, an advisor to the Axel Springer Publishing Group in Israel, who had known the publisher for over 20 years, described him as a brilliant journalist, a top negotiator and a generous and warm human being. Ofener said Springer had been motivated in his defense of Israel and the Jewish people by the Jewish sources of Christianity, and by the German debt to Israel.
Springer, who built West Germany’s largest publishing empire, was closely associated with the Christian Democratic Party and was a leading conservative voice for three decades. His Group published Bild Zeitung, Die Welt, Bild am Sonntag and Welt am Sonntag, among numerous other publications.