Ownership structures are an important element of the theory explaining corporate governance. This study presents detailed descriptive evidence on the ownership structures of German manufacturing firms. It addresses several shortcomings of the previous German empirical literature: First, we study all legal forms of a Kapitalgesellschaft, firms that generally have a separation of ownership and control. We do not focus exclusively on the listed Aktiengesellschaft (AG) but include many non-listed firms. Second, we examine changes in the ownership structure. This is a new and important approach because these changes are frequently related to corporate performance. Third, we analyze the higher levels of ownership structures, i.e. ownership structures of the direct owners. Thereby we address an issue quant itatively which only recently became subject of empirical studies. Finally, we find that crossownership is of minor relevance in the German manufacturing sector. However, our measure of cross-ownership represents only a lower bound.