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West German Publishing Heir, 19, Kidnaped in Alps

January 23, 1985|From Times Wire Services

CHUR, Switzerland — The 19-year-old grandson of West German publisher Axel Springer has been kidnaped from an Alpine resort, police announced today.

Ending a 48-hour news blackout, police said the youth, Sven Axel Springer, was abducted Monday.

Colleagues said police discovered no signs of a struggle at the private Swiss school in Zuoz where the youth was last seen Sunday evening, dressed in pajamas and writing a letter, shortly before midnight.

Friends said he had planned to use a pay phone before going to bed.

Police said the Springer family had received a tape-recorded message from the youth saying that the kidnapers were demanding a ransom of 15 million marks, the equivalent of $3 million.

Police quoted the tape, played in eight separate telephone calls to Springer's mother, Rosemarie Springer, in Munich on Tuesday, as saying:

"I have been abducted; press and police must not be informed, otherwise I will be killed."

The Axel Springer Publishing House in Hamburg also received a call today, again with a tape recording of the young Springer, in which he also said he would have to remain in the hands of his kidnapers for some time after the money was handed over, police said.

The Springer publishing operation is a right-wing press empire that includes the tabloid Bild--Western Europe's largest-selling newspaper--Die Welt and a host of other newspapers and magazines, and is considered the most powerful publishing house in West Germany.

Sven Axel Springer is the son of the late Axel Springer Jr., who built up the international Sven Simon photo agency and took his own life in 1980.

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