From 1860 to 1870, Fontane worked on the Neue Preußische Zeitung, the so-called "Kreuzzeitung" in Berlin. His "false" correspondents' reports, of which he wrote a great number for the conservative newspaper, reflect contemporary political and social events. He took most of his material from duplicated reports from German agencies and from German and foreign newspapers, which he read in Berlin and then synthesised as though he were actually on the spot. Most of his reports dealt with Great Britain, with some from other European countries.
For a long time, research has ignored Fontane's ten years on the Kreuzzeitung. The reasons lie partly in the difficulty of accessing source, but also in Fontane's own attempts to play down this period of his life from his more liberal position in his later years. His contributions to the Kreuzzeitung show him however to have been a convinced conservative at that time, and demonstrate how closely he identified with Bismarck's thinking and policies. Thus these reports sharpen the previously diffuse image of Fontane's conservatism.
This edition of the "false" correspondents' reports, with its wealth of illustrative material, lends a new dimension to the image of Fontane as a witness of his time.