"Mühle + Mischfutter" – a trade journal with a 150 years‘ tradition

150 Jahre 150 Jahre MM

In 1863, on the threshold of transition to modern milling, the Leipzig publisher Gustav Moritz Schäfer took the risk of publishing a weekly magazine entitled “Die Mühle” dealing with any issues relating to milling and mill construction. At that time, advanced machines such as roller mills, purifiers, plansifters, water turbines, steam engines, as well as gas-powered or electric motors were just about to enable progressive economic and continuous milling processes by replacing the old-fashioned equipment that still existed in small and medium-sized mills. The new magazine “Die Mühle” (programmatically subtitled as “Wochenschrift zur Förderung des Fortschritts in Müllerei und Mühlenbau” later) was intended to bring about a powerful process of renewal by introducing fresh and inspiring ideas.

In addition, the economic problems of milling urgently called for a nationwide trade journal – a need which was actually due to another revolutionary development: As a result of the rapid railway network expansion, both grain supply and flour sales of local mills were no longer restricted to regional areas but could henceworth be effected on a nationwide basis. Raw materials and ground products could be transported over long distances which in turn required constant information on grain, flour, and afterproduct prices as well as on freight rates and special fares. All these issues – and many more – should be discussed in the new magazine.

The first number 1/1864 was published in advance on 3rd December 1863. In the early years, however, “Die Mühle” did not come across much interest by the companies addressed who only placed very few ads. Subscription revenues, too, were far from covering production costs. Nevertheless, thanks to the special efforts of the publisher Moritz Schäfer (whose mother came from a mill near Dresden), the loss-making magazine was not discontinued but – quite the contrary – consistently expanded.

During its first decades, “Die Mühle” strongly advocated the establishment of millers meetings with a view to exchanging experience on economic issues and new technical developments. It also pushed the foundation of mill associations (Moritz Schäfer was the treasurer and one of the co-founders of the Saxon Mills Association); already in 1869 it furthermore initiated an international milling machine exhibition which took place in a large tent hall on the Marienplatz in Leipzig. “Die Mühle” became the official organ of the employers’ liability insurance association of millers and, temporarily, of the German millers’ association. However, due to frequent disputes on the positioning of articles as well as attempts to influence editorial contributions and advertising space awarding, the advertising section was spun off as a supplement named “Deutscher Mühlen-Anzeiger” and the editorial section was split into a general part and an association-related part.

After in 1898 and 1899 another two German mill associations had been founded, in 1904 “Die Mühle” finally dissociated from the German millers’ association and evolved into an independent and impartial trade journal affording space to all kinds of opinions and perspectives. The “Mühle” readers highly appreciated this development which was clearly reflected by the upgrowing weekly circulation figures, namely 6 537 copies in 1905, 8 398 in 1907, 9 053 in 1909 and finally 10 196 copies in 1913. The format of the magazine had meanwhile been enlarged twice and the title been “modernized”. With more than 600 text pages per year and more than 1 800 ad pages, “Die Mühle” had, after five decades, managed to strengthen its position among the milling industry’s expert community.

At the end of April 1945, Leipzig had been occupied by American troops (whose press officers promised that politically flawless publishers would be allowed to restart production soon) but was then, together with other parts of Saxony, ceded to the Soviet occupying forces in exchange for West Berlin. The Soviet publishing policy, however, was fundamentally different. A license to publish “Die Mühle” was promised several times but never granted. As a result, it was decided to relocate both “Die Mühle” and the book publishing company to West Germany which indeed was a difficult venture: Interzonal traffic from East to West was extremely restricted and official authorizitations for business relocations or exit permits were almost unachievable. In addition, a Stuttgart publishing house had meanwhile imitated the characteristic outward appearance of “Die Mühle” with their weekly magazine “Die Müllerei” and had even employed two former Moritz Schäfer editors. The result of all this was that the professional world considered “Die Müllerei” to be the West German issue of “Die Mühle”. Moreover there were two well-established Bavarian milling trade journals as well as a small Westphalian magazine available on the market. However, both readers and advertisers disapproved the existence of too many different trade journals. Therefore, to stand a chance in the West German trade magazine market, “Die Mühle” had to initiate a certain shake-out process first. In this context it has been a fortunate coincidence that, as part of restructuring measures, the Bayerischer Landwirtschafts-Verlag was just about to divest their “Mühlen-Zeitung”. In addition, the magazine “Der Müller” published in Halle/Westphalia was for sale, too. All these circumstances certainly facilitated a promising “Mühle” restart.

Detmold was appointed to be the new place of publication. Supported by a printers’ shop, the first copies (admittedly not yet appearing really professional) had been delivered in September 1950. From January 1951 on, they were followed by “Das Mühlenlaboratorium” as well as the scientific monthly “Getreide und Mehl”, the latter one being the organ of the Detmold Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Getreideforschung under the editorship of Prof. Dr. med. PF Pelshenke and published as a monthly supplement to “Die Mühle”. Shortly after, Dr. jur. W. Laute (who had moved to Bonn) and Dr.-Ing. O. Haltmeier from Frankfurt returned to “Die Mühle”, thus complementing the editorial staff together with Ing. Walter Hachmann. In 1952 the monthly “Das Wassertriebwerk” written by Berat.-Ing. W. Weicker and published as a supplement to “Die Mühle” was also included in the scope of products.

Since the monthly supplements in DIN A4 format appeared somewhat lost in view of the then large DIN B4 format of “Die Mühle”, their size was gradually scaled down to DIN B5 which was half the “Mühle” format. In the fifties and sixties some removable reference book pre-prints were published in that same size: “Fachkunde für Müller” by J. Flechsig, “Getreide- und Mehluntersuchung” by Dr. O. Eckardt, and “Ergebnisse und Probleme der Getreideforschung”, a series of articles written by Dr. med. W. Schäfer on the occasion of the 100th “Mühle” anniversary (the book edition of which was entitled “Brot in unserer Zeit”). A scientific paper created in 1962 by Prof. Dr. M. Rohrlich was also attached in the new half-size format. “Das Wassertriebwerk” was likewise adapted to the new format from 1969 onwards; the same applied to “The Feed Industry in Oversea Countries” by Dr. J. Hertrampf. In contrast, “Der Mühlstein” (a quarterly periodical on mills history and perservation) as well as “Die Mühle” had meanwhile been converted to today’s DIN A5 format.

In recent decades, the outer appearance of “Die Mühle” has also been significantly improved. In 1961 its characteristic beige-coloured cover paper known from the forties and fifties was replaced by a special art paper of the same colour which in turn has been exchanged for a white art paper in 1975. After in 1978 metal-type letterpress printing had been discontinued and been replaced by offset printing and phototype setting, in 1980 a snow-white offset paper substituting the former mechanical paper has been selected for the interior “Mühle” pages. Nowadays, page layout processing is largely computerized. The title letters, too, have been modified several times, frequently reflecting current fashion trends such as Art Nouveau or New Objectivity. To better express its constantly updated contents, “Die Mühle” was even renamed twice: “Mühle + Mischfuttertechnik” in 1965 and “Mühle + Mischfutter” in 2000, the latter one being its official name to this day. Nevertheless the journal is frequently called and referred to as “Die Mühle” even today.

A somewhat curious episode in the history of “Die Mühle” during the second half of the fifties is also worth mentioning here. The background was that the state-owned publishing companies of the former GDR did not manage to produce a journal specifically for the milling industry; furthermore subscription-based “Mühle” deliveries to the GDR had been limited to exceptional cases only. Therefore in 1956 a very special agreement was made: In a number of “Mühle” journals destined for delivery to the GDR, all the pages dealing with economic topics have been removed and replaced by contents contributed by the East German publishing house “Die Wirtschaft”. As a result, the “Mühle” journals met with an extraordinary approval in the East German professional world: Within just a few weeks the GDR edition printed in Detmold reached a circulation of almost 2 000 copies a week. However, the Moritz Schäfer publishing house was in a way forced to pre-finance all the GDR copies for many years. The reason was that no payments have ever been made for those deliveries but the equivalent value was collected on a blocked account instead and could be utilized to have textbooks printed by East German graphic arts companies. One of the difficulties was that each and every delivery of “Mühle” journals had to be accompanied by a governmental issue slip. However, after numerous delays in receiving those approvals as a result of internal German trade problems, the East German partner lastly terminated the contract. Therefore production of the GDR edition was discontinued in April 1957 while reimbursement of the outstanding amounts dragged on till 1960.

The next generational change with regard to both the “Mühle” team and the Moritz Schäfer publishing house took place in the sixties and seventies. In 1968 Hans Kunis’ son Klaus, who had been a member of the editorial staff since 1962, became the managing editor of the Moritz Schäfer publishing company. After the death of the company’s commercial partner Karl Lieberwirth in 1966 a process of restructuring started in the course of which, after the death of Hans Kunis in 1976, the former authorized officers Jochen Kunis and Klaus Kunis became managing partners.

Not least thanks to Klaus Kunis’ good connections, from 1981 on the media landscape has been further streamlined: The Moritz Schäfer publishing company took over from the Bavarian millers’ association the “Deutsche Müller-Zeitung DMZ” (which at that time had been existing for 78 years already) and, just a few years later, the Austrian “Mühlen-Markt” as well as the Swiss “Mühlen-Anzeiger”. All those journals have been integrated within “Die Mühle” which thus assumed a special responsibility as an independent mouthpiece for the entire central-European milling industry. Thanks to its excellent relationships with all the relevant organizations and institutions, it managed to perfectly fulfill this mission to this day.

In 1993 Jochen Kunis retired from the active management on grounds of age. His brother Klaus Kunis thereafter continued to run the publishing house according to their common principles until he, too, officially retired in 2007. Since no family successor was available, the Moritz Schäfer publishing company has then been passed into the hands of Reinald Pottebaum who for many years had been working with the Institute for Milling and Bakery Technology of the former Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food in Detmold and maintains a long-time and close relationship with Klaus Kunis – not just within the limits of their common “Glück zu” association membership but even beyond.