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Stern magazine cover on 18 February 2016
|Editor||Andreas Petzold, Thomas Osterkorn|
|First issue||1 August 1948|
|Company||Gruner + Jahr|
Henri Nannen created the magazine out of the youth paper Zick Zack, and the first issue appeared on 1 August 1948. This was possible after obtaining a licence from the British military government to rename Zick-Zack to Stern, for which Nannen had taken over the licence a few months before. The first issue had 16 pages, with the cover showing actress Hildegard Knef. Nannen also edited the magazine of which headquarters is in Hamburg.
In the 1960s the magazine became the founding member of the European Car of the Year. In 1965 the magazine was sold to Gruner + Jahr. In 1968, Stern and Die Zeit began publishing the Stern-Zeit bi-weekly paper for the blind, which stopped publication in mid-2007 due to financial problems.
In 1999 the circulation of Stern was 1,124,400 copies. In 2000 the magazine had a circulation of 1,082,000 copies. Its average circulation was 1,186,000 copies in 2003. In the fourth quarter of 2006 its circulation was 1,019,300 copies. It slightly rose to 1,042,000 copies for 2006 as a whole. Its circulation went down to 895,962 copies in 2010 and to 750,810 copies in 2014.
In 1950 Stern was banned by the British military authorities for one week following the publication of an article criticizing the Allies for waste of money.
It is notorious internationally for publishing the so-called Hitler Diaries in its 28 April 1983 edition. Scientific examination soon proved them forgeries committed by Konrad Kujau who had created the journals between 1981 and 1983 as a hoax. A British broadsheet newspaper, The Sunday Times, had begun a serialization of the diaries, then abandoned that and issued an official apology. The fiasco led to the resignation of the magazine's editors and a major scandal that is still regarded as a low point in German journalism. The incident caused a major crisis for the magazine. Its credibility was severely damaged and it had to rebuild its reputation from an abysmal level. It took the magazine ten years to regain its pre-scandal status and reputation.
In Germany, it is also remembered for the publication in 1971 of We had an abortion!, a public declaration by several hundred women provoked by Alice Schwarzer to defy its illegality at that time in West Germany.
In 1990, Stern published the title story "I am a masochist" in which author Sina-Aline Geißler discussed her literary coming-out as a member of the BDSM scene. This caused an intense public debate, and radical feminists occupied the editorial office of Stern.
Four Stern journalists have been killed while reporting. In January 1995, Jochen Piest was killed by a sniper near the Chechen capital of Grozny. Gabriel Grüner and Volker Krämer were killed near Dulje, Kosovo. In November 2001 Volker Handloik was killed in an ambush in northern Afghanistan.