AZ visit to Karl Stankiewitz: A life as a Munich explainer

Munich – So this is where Karl Stankiewitz reads and thinks and telephones and writes. He did that even before the parents of today’s reporters were even born. And still does. A beautiful, bourgeois old building in Lehel. The old window is open, there’s a little rushing noise from Widenmayerstrasse. Or is that the Isar, right over there?

Then the master of the house comes in. One would almost like to say: it springs. Karl Stankiewitz is now 93. He has been the oldest reporter for the evening newspaper for a very, very long time. It’s one of those many unreal hot August days of 2022. Stankiewitz is wearing a polo shirt, he’s wide awake in conversation.

Munich beyond the clichés – that’s what he wants to describe

The man explains Munich. As early as 1947, before graduating from high school, he made Munich’s first school newspaper, went to the “SZ” as a trainee, and was then part of the very first team at the evening newspaper. Later, Stankiewitz was the Munich correspondent for many German newspapers for decades, wrote books about the city – and up to this week again and again for his evening newspaper.

And all of this – from this desk. He bought it “during wartime,” says Stankiewitz. And of course it’s right on topic, his city and its development. The desk comes from Maximilianstraße – and he doesn’t like how it developed! “This luxerization often annoyed me,” he says.

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Stankiewitz shows AZ local boss Felix Müller memories from his decades as a reporter.
© Thomas Stankiewitz
Stankiewitz shows AZ local boss Felix Müller memories from his decades as a reporter.

by Thomas Stankiewitz

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His Lehel has long ceased to be a small-people district. After all: Stankiewitz has the landlord’s promise to be able to stay here affordable for as long as he can. Munich history is piled high in his apartment. books, articles. The man by no means only lives in the 40s, 50s, 60s and the memory of it, as one might expect from a 93-year-old. He also has many AZ posters from the past few years hanging in the apartment.

“I just kept writing”

A professional life – by that one usually means 40 years or 50. At Stankiewitz, the profession fulfills a whole, full, very long life. He worked as a correspondent for almost 50 years until 2000, after which several books were published. Countless e-mails with suggestions for articles and series still end up in the AZ editorial team in this Olympic anniversary year. “I just kept writing,” he says.

About Munich. From Munich. Did Stankiewitz never want to leave? “No,” he says firmly. “I always knew I wanted to stay.” And so he becomes a Munich explainer for readers in Saarbrücken or the Ruhr area. His recipe for success in the decades when Munich was still considered a dynamic, exciting city: Unlike other correspondents, Stankiewitz never limited himself to the state parliament. “Funny, comical, special – the editors all over Germany were always interested in stories from Munich,” says Stankiewitz. But: He also sees his task in describing Munich not just as a clichéd and fun city, more than Strauss, Wiesn, chicimicki.

type="image/webp">>In the thick of things: Stankiewitz (3rd from right) in 1976 at a press conference with CSU General Secretary Gerold Tandler (right), CSU MEP Otto von Habsburg and Secretary of State for the Interior Erich Kiesl (left).>> type="image/webp">>In the thick of things: Stankiewitz (3rd from right) in 1976 at a press conference with CSU General Secretary Gerold Tandler (right), CSU MEP Otto von Habsburg and Secretary of State for the Interior Erich Kiesl (left).>>
In the thick of things: Stankiewitz (3rd from right) in 1976 at a press conference with CSU General Secretary Gerold Tandler (right), CSU MEP Otto von Habsburg and Secretary of State for the Interior Erich Kiesl (left).
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In the thick of things: Stankiewitz (3rd from right) in 1976 at a press conference with CSU General Secretary Gerold Tandler (right), CSU MEP Otto von Habsburg and Secretary of State for the Interior Erich Kiesl (left).

from personal

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After almost 75 years: Karl Stankiewitz is breaking up

The most exciting time? “From 1966!” he says immediately. After the commitment for the Olympic Games, Munich really blossomed. How has the city developed overall over the decades? Stankiewitz finds: on the whole gratifying! “The man from Munich was actually a conservative, rather musty guy,” he says. “Today, the brain bite is the last beer dump that’s left.” The city has benefited greatly from the influx and has become more cosmopolitan.

Stankiewitz has traveled a lot – he is also on the road as a reporter as far as South America. He finds his balance in sports – and to this day in his holiday home in Tyrol. That he – times were different for newspapers too! – bought from the fees of the Vera Brühne trial in the 60s.

type="image/webp">>Court workplace: Stankiewitz in the Justice Center at a trial in the 1980s.>> type="image/webp">>Court workplace: Stankiewitz in the Justice Center at a trial in the 1980s.>>
Court workplace: Stankiewitz in the Justice Center at a trial in the 1980s.
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Court workplace: Stankiewitz in the Justice Center at a trial in the 1980s.

from personal

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His son Thomas Stankiewitz is now sitting next to him. Of course, he sees the thing with the constant writing more critically. “He’s a total workaholic,” says Thomas Stankiewitz about his father, and his look reveals a mixture of admiration, disbelief and concern. And now it should really be the end? Karl Stankiewitz, who now occasionally needs a walker, told the AZ, “which was part of my second home for almost 75 years,” that he wanted to stop. The heart, the eyes. “I have to pay more attention to my health.”

“I have to do something, otherwise I’ll get bored”

On the other hand, he may still be available for advice. His legacy, many of his manuscripts should go to the State Library. He has the idea for one last book about “Green Munich” and is now collecting material for it. “You have to do something, otherwise I’ll get bored.” But Stankiewitz also says, clearly and seriously: “I don’t think I can still carry out the idea.”

type="image/webp">>What used to be! Karl Stankiewitz cross-country skiing in Widenmayerstraße at home in Lehel in 1974.>> type="image/webp">>What used to be! Karl Stankiewitz cross-country skiing in Widenmayerstraße at home in Lehel in 1974.>>
What used to be! Karl Stankiewitz cross-country skiing in Widenmayerstraße at home in Lehel in 1974.
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What used to be! Karl Stankiewitz cross-country skiing in Widenmayerstraße at home in Lehel in 1974.

from personal

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For the time being, Karl Stankiewitz will no longer finish writing newspaper texts under time pressure. But somehow just keep working. At noon he will continue over to the Isarthor inn, which fortunately still exists. The waiter will continue to give him a cut before he even sits down. Widenmayerstrasse will continue to murmur in front of his apartment – or the Isar, who knows for sure.

And Karl Stankiewitz, who raves about how nice it is to look out over the countryside, will use this old desk to collect whatever he can about this city and its history. It’s also his own story. His life’s work.


The article is in German

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