Memorial Service for Reinhard Mohn: “Society has lost an important role model”
Saying goodbye to Reinhard Mohn: Together with the Mohn family and colleagues from the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Reinhard Mohn’s friends and associates of many years from the political, business and social spheres paid their respects to the late entrepreneur and philanthropist at a memorial service held Friday.
Representing the German government, the country’s economic minister, Dr. Karl-Theodor Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, praised Mohn’s achievements to some 1,000 mourners at the event held in Gütersloh’s community center. “As an entrepreneur he was part of the social market economy. He promoted it, he lived it,” von Guttenberg said. He also recalled the late business leader’s philanthropic activities, saying, “Reinhard Mohn’s legacy demands that we remember our responsibility to all of society’s members.” The premier of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Dr. Jürgen Rüttgers, noted that Mohn was well aware of how fragile the foundations of communal life are. “He was there when you called,” Rüttgers said, “and the legacy of that attitude has been preserved in the Bertelsmann Stiftung.” Dr. Gunter Thielen, chairman and CEO of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, noted that society “has lost an important role model for business leaders, philanthropists and ordinary citizens.”
Mohn died on October 3 at the age of 88. After the war he transformed Bertelsmann AG into a globally active media group and founded the Bertelsmann Stiftung.
At the memorial service, Thielen noted that Mohn had remained close to his colleagues at the Bertelsmann Stiftung until the very end. “We will very much miss his ideas and advice as well as his ability to reconsider things from a different angle and come up with new solutions,” the Bertelsmann Stiftung CEO said. “What we will remember most of all will be his insistence not only on identifying the problems that need addressed but also on searching for solutions and then putting them into practice.” Speaking to Liz Mohn, Mohn’s widow and the vice-chair of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board, Thielen said that Mohn had shared “his considerable life’s work and his personal attitudes” with society, to which he had a “steadfast commitment.”
Mohn’s daughter, Dr. Brigitte Mohn, a member of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Executive Board, and his son Christoph spoke on behalf of the family. “Naturally he was a major influence on me,” Brigitte Mohn said. “It’s always special when a child can say her parents are role models, which is what he was for me -- both as a person and as a business leader.” Christoph Mohn said it was his father’s most deeply held conviction that “individuals should use their talents to serve the common good and that the common good is what in fact gives an individual’s life meaning.” Hartmut Ostrowski, CEO of Bertelsmann AG, praised Mohn’s achievements, saying they were extraordinary and would remain so to future generations.
Among the mourners were numerous public figures and celebrities, including television hosts Günther Jauch and Frank Elstner, publisher Friede Springer, publisher Dr. Hubert Burda, Dr. Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Springer AG, publisher Heinz Bauer, Kai Diekmann, editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Bild, Helmut Markwort, editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine Focus, and Hans-Werner Kilz, editor-in-chief of the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. Also present were Peter Hintze, parliamentary state secretary at the German Economics Ministry, Dr. Klaus Kinkel, former German foreign minister, Dr. Klaus von Dohnanyi, former German Education Minister and former mayor of Hamburg, and Dr. Rita Süssmuth, former president of the German Bundestag. Business leaders included Dr. Wulf H. Bernotat, CEO of E.ON AG, Dr. Jürgen Hambrecht, CEO of BASF AG, and Jürgen Gerdes, member of the board at Deutsche Post AG.
Conductor and director Gustav Kuhn, who has served as artistic director of the “Neue Stimmen” International Singing Competition since 1987, was responsible for the musical accompaniment. "Neuen Stimmen" performers sang excerpts from Rossini’s "Petite Messe Solonnelle.” The Gütersloh Boys’ Choir, which is sponsored by Liz Mohn, also performed under the direction of Sigmund Bothmann.
Reinhard Mohn was laid to rest on October 7 in the presence of his immediate family.
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