Heinrich Lübke

Last updated

Heinrich Lübke
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1994-034-22A, Heinrich Lubke.jpg
Heinrich Lübke in 1959
President of Germany
(West Germany)
In office
13 September 1959 30 June 1969
Chancellor Konrad Adenauer
Ludwig Erhard
Kurt Georg Kiesinger
Preceded by Theodor Heuss
Succeeded by Gustav Heinemann
Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Forestry
In office
20 October 1953 15 September 1959
Chancellor Konrad Adenauer
Preceded by Wilhelm Niklas
Succeeded byWerner Schwarz
Member of the Bundestag
for ReesDinslaken
In office
6 September 1953 2 September 1959
Preceded by Franz Etzel
Succeeded byArnold Verhoeven
Member of the Bundestag
for ArnsbergSoest
In office
14 August 1949 19 November 1950
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byErnst Majonica
Personal details
Karl Heinrich Lübke

(1894-10-14)14 October 1894
Enkhausen, German Empire
Died6 April 1972(1972-04-06) (aged 77)
Bonn, FR Germany
Nationality German
Political party Centre Party (Zentrumspartei) (1930–1933)
Spouse(s) Wilhelmine Keuthen (1885–1981)
Signature Signatur Heinrich Lubke.jpg
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the German Empire.svg  German Empire
Flag of Germany (3-2 aspect ratio).svg  Weimar Republic
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany
Branch/serviceFlag of the German Empire.svg  Imperial German Army
War ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg  German Army
Battles/wars World War I

Karl Heinrich Lübke (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈlʏpkə] ; 14 October 1894 – 6 April 1972) was a German politician who was the second President of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from 1959 to 1969.

President of Germany Head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany

The President of Germany, officially the Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany, is the head of state of Germany.


Prior to his presidency he served as Federal Minister for Agriculture. Besides agriculture he was interested in the state of developing countries. The moderate conservative suffered from deteriorating health towards the end of his career, and is known for a series of embarrassing incidents that may have resulted from his health issues. Lübke resigned three months before the scheduled end of his second term.


Lubke with Cabinet V - Adenauer Bundesarchiv Bild 183-A1221-0046-008, Bonn, Kabinett Adenauer V, Ernennungsurkunden.jpg
Lübke with Cabinet V - Adenauer
Lubke with President of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta and his son Uhuru Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F021917-0014, Kenia, Staatsbesuch Bundesprasident Lubke.jpg
Lübke with President of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta and his son Uhuru

Born in Enkhausen, Westphalia, Lübke had a very humble upbringing. He was the son of a shoemaker and farmer from the Sauerland, and was a surveyor by training. [1] He volunteered for service in World War I, reaching the rank of lieutenant.

Sundern Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Sundern is a town in the Hochsauerland district, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The name Sundern is common in Westphalia, as it means "ground given away for private usage" in the Westphalian dialect.

Westphalia State part and historic region of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany

Westphalia is a region in northwestern Germany and one of the three historic parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has an area of 20,208 km2 (7,802 sq mi) and 7.9 million inhabitants.

Sauerland rural, hilly area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Sauerland[ˈzaʊɐlant] is a rural, hilly area spreading across most of the south-eastern part of North Rhine-Westphalia, in parts heavily forested and, apart from the major valleys, sparsely inhabited. For these reasons, it has been chosen as the first place in Germany to reintroduce the Wisent.

After working from 1923 as an officer of a pressure group representing the interests of small-scale farmers in Berlin, in 1930 he became a member of the Roman Catholic Centre Party (Zentrumspartei) and in April 1932 was elected as a member of the Prussian Parliament.

Centre Party (Germany) Catholic political party in Germany

The German Centre Party is a lay Catholic political party in Germany, primarily influential during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. In English it is often called the Catholic Centre Party. Formed in 1870, it successfully battled the Kulturkampf which Chancellor Otto von Bismarck launched in Prussia to reduce the power of the Catholic Church. It soon won a quarter of the seats in the Reichstag, and its middle position on most issues allowed it to play a decisive role in the formation of majorities.

Free State of Prussia former federated state of Germany between 1918 and 1947

The Free State of Prussia was a state of Germany from 1918 to 1947.

Landtag representative assembly (parliament) in German-speaking countries with legislative authority and competence over a federated state

A Landtag is a representative assembly (parliament) in German-speaking countries with legislative authority and competence over a federated state (Land). Landtage assemblies are the legislative bodies for the individual states of Germany and states of Austria, and have authority to legislate in non-federal matters for the regional area.

After the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933 and the subsequent dissolution of the Zentrumspartei, Lübke was accused of misappropriating public funds and imprisoned; after 20 months in prison he was released, when no evidence could be produced to back up the politically motivated charges. It was not until 1937 that he was able to get a senior position with a building society (German: Wohnungsbaugesellschaft). In 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II, he moved to a company of building engineers managed by the architect Walter Schlempp. Here he came to the notice of Albert Speer and was given responsibility for major building projects, some of which were under the aegis of the Armaments Ministry run by Speer. One of these was the extension of the 'Army Research Center Peenemünde' (Heeresversuchsanstalt Peenemünde in German, abbreviated HVP) and the 'Air Force Test Centre' (Erprobungsstelle der Luftwaffe in German), Peenemünde-West. [1]

A building society is a financial institution owned by its members as a mutual organization. Building societies offer banking and related financial services, especially savings and mortgage lending. Building societies exist in the United Kingdom and Australia, and used to exist in Ireland and several Commonwealth countries. They are similar to credit unions in organisation, though few enforce a common bond. However, rather than promoting thrift and offering unsecured and business loans, the purpose of a building society is to provide home mortgages to members. Borrowers and depositors are society members, setting policy and appointing directors on a one-member, one-vote basis. Building societies often provide other retail banking services, such as current accounts, credit cards and personal loans. The term "building society" first arose in the 18th century in Great Britain from cooperative savings groups.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Albert Speer Minister of Armaments and War Production in Nazi Germany

Albert Speer was the Minister of Armaments and War Production in Nazi Germany during most of World War II. A close ally of Adolf Hitler, he was convicted at the Nuremberg trials and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

After the war, Lübke returned to his career in politics, becoming a member of the West German CDU party, being appointed Minister of Agriculture in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1947. In 1953 Konrad Adenauer appointed him to his cabinet as Federal Minister of Agriculture in Bonn. [1]

North Rhine-Westphalia State in Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia is a state of Germany.

Konrad Adenauer German statesman, Federal Chancellor of Germany, politician (CDU)

Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman who served as the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1963. He was co-founder and first leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), a Christian Democratic party that under his leadership became one of the most influential parties in the country. As party leader he worked closely with the United States.

Bonn Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Federal City of Bonn is a city on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of over 300,000. About 24 km (15 mi) south-southeast of Cologne, Bonn is in the southernmost part of the Rhine-Ruhr region, Germany's largest metropolitan area, with over 11 million inhabitants. It is famously known as the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven in 1770. Beethoven spent his childhood and teenage years in Bonn.

Definitive stamp during his term Stamps of Germany (Berlin) 1964, MiNr 235.jpg
Definitive stamp during his term

Lübke was chosen by Adenauer as a candidate for the largely ceremonial post of president to ensure that Adenauer's political schemes were not disturbed by too strong a personality in this position,[ citation needed ] which is nominally the highest post in the German state. Lübke defeated Carlo Schmid, the SPD candidate, and Max Becker, the FDP candidate for the presidency, in the second round of voting in 1959.

Carlo Schmid (German politician) German academic and politician of the social-democratic SPD

Carlo Schmid was a German academic and politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

Lübke's status as a one-time political prisoner under the National Socialists placed him in good stead, and it was not until 1966 that accusations started to be made by sources in the DDR that he had at the very least been aware of the use of slave labour on his projects; building plans bearing his signature and containing concentration camp barrack blocks were advanced as evidence of his complicity, but these were dismissed in the West as East German propaganda. [1] Nevertheless, the potential scandal threatened to damage the office of the Federal President; in 1968 Lübke announced that he would resign the following year, his resignation taking effect three months before the scheduled end of his term of office.

The former president's health deteriorated. His intention to live in Berlin from time to time could not be realized, nor could he, with his private library of about 5,000 books, pursue his scientific hobbies in comparative linguistics and microbiology.

Lübke's party friends ignored him, if they did not avoid him. His successor in the presidency, Gustav Heinemann, however, kept in contact with him. Trips to Tenerife in the fall of 1969 and at Christmas in 1970 and 1971 brought no improvement in his condition. Progressive cerebral sclerosis was becoming increasingly noticeable, leading to serious speech disorders and temporary memory loss. In retrospect, it became clear that this disease had started several years earlier and explained many aspects of the German president's behavior during his last years in office. In November 1971, the former president visited his birthplace in Enkhausen for the last time.

On 30 March 1972, acute stomach bleeding required an emergency operation. It turned out that he was suffering from a very advanced stomach cancer which had already metastasized to the brain. After two more bleedings Lübke died on 6 April 1972 at the age of 77 years in Bonn.

As a speaker

Lübke was a poor public speaker and was frequently subject to ridicule, especially near the end of his term of office when his age and his failing health started to affect his memory. He frequently forgot where he was (Lübke: "When I talk to you today in...eh... in.." Voice from the crowd shouting: "Helmstedt!" Lübke: "...eh...when I talk to you today in ... Helmstedt, then it was following my own will...", etc.). This was further ridiculed in the German translation of Danger Mouse , where Penfold is called "Lübke" and is frequently ordered to "shut up" ("Lübke, Schnauze!").

Various other slips are well documented, such as the address in Antananarivo, Madagascar: "My very dear Mr. President, dear Mrs. Tananarive..." [2] His word-for-word translations of German into English (see Lübke English) were also the subject of much mockery.

Tapes from Lübke's speeches were collected by the German satirical magazine Pardon and distributed on a best-selling record. [3]


National honour

Foreign honours

Related Research Articles

Margrethe II of Denmark

Margrethe II is the Queen of Denmark, as well as the supreme authority of the Church of Denmark and Commander-in-Chief of the Danish Defence. Born into the House of Glücksburg, a royal house with origins in Northern Germany, she was the eldest child of Frederick IX of Denmark and Ingrid of Sweden. She became heir presumptive to her father in 1953, when a constitutional amendment allowed women to inherit the throne.

Baudouin of Belgium King of Belgians

Baudouin was the King of the Belgians, following his father's abdication, from 1951 until his death in 1993. He was the last Belgian king to be sovereign of the Congo.

Isabella II of Spain Spanish queen regnant

Isabella II was Queen of Spain from 1833 until 1868. She came to the throne as an infant, but her succession was disputed by the Carlists, whose refusal to recognize a female sovereign led to the Carlist Wars. After a troubled reign, she was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1868, and formally abdicated in 1870. Her son, Alfonso XII, became king in 1874.

Rainier III, Prince of Monaco 20th and 21st-century Prince of Monaco

Prince Rainier III ruled the Principality of Monaco for almost 56 years, making him one of the longest ruling monarchs in European history. Though internationally known for his marriage to American actress Grace Kelly, he was also responsible for reforms to Monaco's constitution and for expanding the principality's economy from its traditional casino gambling base to its current tax haven role. Gambling accounts for only approximately three percent of the nation's annual revenue today; when Rainier ascended the throne in 1949, it accounted for more than 95 percent.

Queen Mathilde of Belgium Belgian royal

Queen Mathilde of Belgium is the wife of King Philippe, who ascended the throne following the abdication of his father, King Albert II, on 21 July 2013. She is the first Belgian-born Queen of the Belgians.

Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner Norwegian princess

Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner is the second daughter of King Olav V of Norway and his wife, Princess Märtha of Sweden. She is the older sister of King Harald V of Norway and younger sister of the late Princess Ragnhild.

Tadj ol-Molouk Queen consort of Iran

Tâj ol-Moluk Âyromlu (Persian: تاج الملوک آيرملو‎, born Nimtâj Âyromlu was Queen of Iran as the wife of Reza Shah, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty and Shah of Iran between 1925 and 1941. The title she was given after becoming Queen means "Crown of the Kingdom" in the Arabic language. She was the first Queen in Iran after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century to have participated in public royal representation and played a major role in the Kashfe hijab in 1936.

Princess Christina, Mrs. Magnuson Swedish princess

Princess Christina, Mrs. Magnuson, is the youngest of four older sisters of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. She generally uses the name Christina Magnuson.

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia has been a claimant to the headship of the Imperial Family of Russia since 1992. Although she has used Grand Duchess of Russia as her title of pretence with the style Imperial Highness throughout her life, her right to do so is disputed. She is a great-great-granddaughter in the male line of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.

Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the mother of the current King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf. A member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Sibylla became a Swedish princess by marrying Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, who did not live to ascend the Swedish throne.

Richard, 6th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg German prince

Richard, 6th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg was the head of the House of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and husband of Princess Benedikte of Denmark.

Prince Hashim bin Hussein is the younger of the two sons of King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan. In her autobiography, Queen Noor states that Hashim was named after the clan of Hashim, a tribe to which the Islamic prophet Muhammad and King Hussein belong. He is in the line of succession to the Jordanian throne.

Princess Joséphine Charlotte of Belgium Grand Duchess of Luxembourg

Princess Joséphine Charlotte of Belgium was Grand Duchess consort of Luxembourg as the wife of Grand Duke Jean. She was a first cousin of Harald V of Norway. She was the first child of King Leopold III of Belgium, and sister of the late King Baudouin I and former King Albert II and aunt of King Philippe I.

Farah Pahlavi Empress of Iran

Farah Pahlavi is the widow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the former shahbanu (empress) of Iran.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Die Zeit: "Der Fall Lübke" (The Lübke Case) (2007, in German)
  2. Die Zeit: Lübke und die Neger (2002, in German)
  3. "Some examples". Heinrichluebke.de. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  4. "Photographic image : Lübke wearing Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of West Germany, Special Class insignia" (JPG). 1.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  5. 1 2 "Photographic image : Wearing German and Thai orders" (JPG). Commons.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  6. 1 2 "Wearing German and British orders" (JPG). Cache4.asset-cache.net. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  7. "Photographic image : Grand cross of the Order of valour" (JPG). C7.alamy.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  8. "Photographic image : receiving Knight Grand Collar of the Order of Solomon" (JPG). 4.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  9. "Photographic image : Lübke wearing Knight Grand Collar of the Order of Solomon" (JPG). 1.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  10. "Photographic image : Grand Cross of the Order of the Legion of Honour presentation" (JPG). Upload.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  11. "Photographic image : Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of Pahlavi" (JPG). Upload.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  12. "Photographic image : Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of Pahlavi" (JPG). Cache3.asset.cache.net. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  13. "Philippine Diplomatic Visits: Philippines ~ West Germany 1963". Philippinediplomaticvisits.blogspot.co.uk. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  14. "Photographic image : Lübke wearing Rajah Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Sikatuna" (JPG). 1.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  15. "Photographic image : Honorary Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of the Rajamitrabhorn" (JPG). S-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  16. "Photographic image : Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath" (JPG). C7.alamy.com. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by
Theodor Heuss
President of West Germany
Succeeded by
Gustav Heinemann