Powerful Austrian publisher, Hans Dichand, dies at age 89

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Powerful Austrian publisher dies

VIENNA — Hans Dichand, the powerful publisher of Austria’s largest circulation newspaper, died Thursday at the age of 89.

The Kronen Zeitung said on its website that Dichand, who was a household name in Austria, died in a hospital with his family by his side.

Dichand, who also served as the newspaper’s editor-in-chief and wrote closely watched columns, was known for commenting on and influencing Austrian politics.

He was born in the southern city of Graz in January 1921 and rose from humble beginnings to become both revered and feared.

While he most recently endorsed a controversial far-right candidate for the presidency, he also has supported politicians from the leftist camp over the years.

He was key in mobilizing sentiment for the election to the presidency of Kurt Waldheim, when accusations arose that the former U.N. chief served in a World War II German army unit that committed atrocities against civilians in the Balkans.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, a Social Democrat, expressed shock at the news of Dichand’s death and hailed him as one of the country’s “great personalities” and as an “exceptionally gifted” publisher and journalist.

The Kronen Zeitung, a tabloid, is one of the most widely read dailies per capita in the world with roughly 3 million readers in a country of just over 8 million people.

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