Kurt Georg Kiesinger

Last updated
Kurt Georg Kiesinger
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F024017-0001, Oberhausen, CDU-Parteitag Rheinland, Kiesinger.jpg (cropped).jpg
Kurt Georg Kiesinger in 1967
Chancellor of Germany
(West Germany)
In office
1 December 1966 21 October 1969
President Heinrich Lübke
Gustav Heinemann
Vice Chancellor Willy Brandt
Preceded by Ludwig Erhard
Succeeded by Willy Brandt
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union
In office
23 May 1967 5 October 1971
General Secretary Bruno Heck
Preceded by Ludwig Erhard
Succeeded by Rainer Barzel
Minister President of Baden-Württemberg
In office
17 December 1958 1 December 1966
DeputyHermann Veit
Wolfgang Haußmann
Preceded by Gebhard Müller
Succeeded by Hans Filbinger
Member of the Bundestag
for Baden-Württemberg
In office
14 December 1976 4 November 1980
Constituency Party list
Member of the Bundestag
for Waldshut
In office
20 October 1969 14 December 1976
Preceded byAnton Hilbert
Succeeded byNorbert Nothhelfer
Member of the Bundestag
for RavensburgBodensee
In office
7 September 1949 19 February 1959
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byEduard Adorno
Personal details
Born(1904-04-06)6 April 1904
Ebingen, German Empire
Died9 March 1988(1988-03-09) (aged 83)
Tübingen, West Germany (now Germany)
Political party Christian Democratic Union (1946–1988)
Nazi Party (1933–1945)
Marie-Luise Schneider(m. 1932)
Signature Kiesinger signature.JPG
Kurt Georg Kiesinger,
Kanzlergalerie Berlin Rittner Kurt Georg Kiesinger 1976.jpg
Kurt Georg Kiesinger,
Kanzlergalerie Berlin
President Nixon and Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger waving to the crowd in West Berlin. Nixon kiesinger berlin.jpg
President Nixon and Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger waving to the crowd in West Berlin.

Kurt Georg Kiesinger (German: [ˈkʊɐ̯t ˈɡeːɔɐ̯k ˈkiːzɪŋɐ] ; 6 April 1904 – 9 March 1988) was a German politician who served as Chancellor of Germany (West Germany) from 1 December 1966 to 21 October 1969. Before he became Chancellor he served as Minister President of Baden-Württemberg from 1958 to 1966 and as President of the Federal Council from 1962 to 1963. He was Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union from 1967 to 1971.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Chancellor of Germany Head of government of Germany

The title Chancellor has designated different offices in the history of Germany. It is currently used for the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the head of government of Germany.

West Germany Federal Republic of Germany in the years 1949–1990

West Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, and referred to by historians as the Bonn Republic, was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the western portion of Germany was part of the Western bloc during the Cold War. It was created during the Allied occupation of Germany in 1949 after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its capital was the city of Bonn.


Kiesinger studied law and worked as a lawyer in Berlin from 1935 to 1940. To avoid conscription, he found work at the Foreign Office in 1940, and became deputy head of the Foreign Office's broadcasting department. During his service at the Foreign Office, he was denounced by two colleagues for his anti-Nazi stance. He had nevertheless joined the Nazi Party in 1933, but remained a largely inactive member. In 1946 he became a member of the Christian Democratic Union. He was elected to the Bundestag in 1949, and was a member of the Bundestag until 1958 and again from 1969 to 1980. He left federal politics for eight years to serve as Minister President of Baden-Württemberg, and subsequently became Chancellor by forming a grand coalition with Willy Brandt's Social Democratic Party.

Conscription Compulsory enlistment into national or military service

Conscription, sometimes called the draft, is the compulsory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names. The modern system of near-universal national conscription for young men dates to the French Revolution in the 1790s, where it became the basis of a very large and powerful military. Most European nations later copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve 1–8 years on active duty and then transfer to the reserve force.

Broadcasting distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio or visual mass communications medium

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic mass communications medium, but typically one using the electromagnetic spectrum, in a one-to-many model. Broadcasting began with AM radio, which came into popular use around 1920 with the spread of vacuum tube radio transmitters and receivers. Before this, all forms of electronic communication were one-to-one, with the message intended for a single recipient. The term broadcasting evolved from its use as the agricultural method of sowing seeds in a field by casting them broadly about. It was later adopted for describing the widespread distribution of information by printed materials or by telegraph. Examples applying it to "one-to-many" radio transmissions of an individual station to multiple listeners appeared as early as 1898.

Nazi Party Fascist political party in Germany (1920-1945)

The National Socialist German Workers' Party, commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a far-right political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of National Socialism. Its precursor, the German Workers' Party, existed from 1919 to 1920.

Kiesinger was considered an outstanding orator and mediator, and was dubbed "Silver Tongue." He was an author of poetry and various books, and founded the universities of Konstanz and Ulm as Minister President of Baden-Württemberg.

University of Konstanz university in Konstanz, Germany

The University of Konstanz is a university in the city of Konstanz in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Its main campus was opened on the Gießberg in 1972 after being founded in 1966. The university is Germany's southernmost university and is situated on the shore of Lake Constance just four kilometers from the Swiss border. It has been successful in all three funding lines of the Excellence Initiative, both in 2007 and in 2012, and is therefore considered one of Germany's elite universities. The University of Konstanz is consistently ranked among the global top 250 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2016 it was ranked 7th globally by the Times Higher Education 150 under 50 rankings. It is often referred to as "small Harvard on Lake Constance".

University of Ulm university

Ulm University is a public university in Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The university was founded in 1967 and focuses on natural sciences, medicine, engineering sciences, mathematics, economics and computer science. With 9,891 students, it is one of the youngest public universities in Germany. The campus of the university is located north of the city on a hill called Oberer Eselsberg, while the university hospital has additional sites across the city.

Early career and wartime activities

Born in Ebingen, Kingdom of Württemberg (now Baden-Württemberg), Kiesinger studied law in Berlin and worked as a lawyer in Berlin from 1935 to 1940. As a student, he joined the (non- couleur wearing) Roman Catholic corporations K.St.V. Alamannia Tübingen  [ de ] and Askania-Burgundia Berlin. He became a member of the Nazi Party in February 1933, but remained a largely inactive member. [1] In 1940, he was called to arms but avoided mobilization by finding a job in the Foreign Office's broadcasting department, rising quickly to become deputy head of the department from 1943 to 1945 and the department's liaison with the Propaganda Ministry. [2] After the war, he was interned and spent 18 months in the Ludwigsburg camp before being released as a case of mistaken identity. [3]

Ebingen quarter of Albstadt, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Ebingen is a town in the large district of Albstadt, district Zollernalbkreis, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. It is located on the river Schmiecha, a left-hand tributary of the Danube, south of Tübingen and west of Ulm.

Kingdom of Württemberg kingdom in Central Europe between 1806–1918, from January 1871 part of the German Empire

The Kingdom of Württemberg was a German state that existed from 1805 to 1918, located within the area that is now Baden-Württemberg. The kingdom was a continuation of the Duchy of Württemberg, which existed from 1495 to 1805. Prior to 1495, Württemberg was a County in the former Duchy of Swabia, which had dissolved after the death of Duke Conradin in 1268.

Baden-Württemberg State in Germany

Baden-Württemberg is a state in southwest Germany, east of the Rhine, which forms the border with France. It is Germany’s third-largest state, with an area of 35,751 km2 (13,804 sq mi) and 11 million inhabitants. Baden-Württemberg is a parliamentary republic and partly sovereign, federated state which was formed in 1952 by a merger of the states of Württemberg-Baden, Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. The largest city in Baden-Württemberg is the state capital of Stuttgart, followed by Karlsruhe and Mannheim. Other cities are Freiburg im Breisgau, Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Pforzheim, Reutlingen and Ulm.

During the controversies of 1966, the magazine Der Spiegel unearthed a Memorandum dated 7 November 1944 (six months before the end of the war in Europe) in which two colleagues denounced to SS chief Heinrich Himmler a conspiracy including Kiesinger that was allegedly propagating defeatism. They accused Kiesinger specifically of hampering anti-Jewish actions within his department.[ citation needed ]

<i>Der Spiegel</i> German weekly news magazine based in Hamburg

Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. With a weekly circulation of 840,000 copies, it is the largest such publication in Europe.

<i>Schutzstaffel</i> Major paramilitary organization of Nazi Germany

The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. It began with a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–45) it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.

Heinrich Himmler High Nazi Germany official, head of the SS

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Germany. Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and among those most directly responsible for the Holocaust.

Early political career

Kiesinger joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in 1946. From 1946 he gave private lessons to law students, and in 1948 he resumed his practice as a lawyer. In 1947 he also became unpaid secretary-general of CDU in Württemberg-Hohenzollern.

Württemberg-Hohenzollern former state of the Federal Republic of Germany

Württemberg-Hohenzollern was a West German state created in 1945 as part of the French post-World War II occupation zone. Its capital was Tübingen. In 1952, it was merged into the newly founded state of Baden-Württemberg.

In the federal election in 1949 he was elected to the Bundestag. In 1951 he became a member of the CDU executive board. During that time, he became known for his rhetorical brilliance, as well as his in-depth knowledge of foreign affairs. However, despite the recognition he enjoyed within the Christian Democrat parliamentary faction, he was passed over during various cabinet reshuffles. Consequently, he decided to switch from federal to state politics.

Minister President of Baden-Württemberg

Kiesinger became Minister President of the state of Baden-Württemberg on 17 December 1958, an office in which he served until 1 December 1966. As Minister President he founded two universities, the University of Konstanz and the University of Ulm.


In 1966 following the collapse of the existing CDU/CSU-FDP coalition, Kiesinger was elected to replace Ludwig Erhard as Chancellor, heading a new CDU/CSU-SPD alliance. The government formed by Kiesinger remained in power for nearly three years with the SPD leader Willy Brandt as Deputy Federal Chancellor and Foreign Minister. Kiesinger reduced tensions with the Soviet bloc nations establishing diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia but he opposed any major conciliatory moves. A number of progressive reforms were also realised during Kiesinger's time as Chancellor. Pension coverage was extended in 1967 via the abolition of the income-ceiling for compulsory membership. In education, student grants were introduced, together with a university building programme, while a constitutional reform of 1969 empowered the federal government to be involved with the Länder in educational planning through joint planning commission. Vocational training legislation was also introduced, while a reorganisation of unemployment insurance promoted retraining schemes, counselling and advice services and job creation places. In addition, under the “Lohnfortzahlunggesetz” of 1969, employers had to pay all employees’ wages for the first 6 weeks of sickness. [4] In August 1969, [5] the Landabgaberente (a higher special pension for farmers willing to cede farms that were unprofitable according to certain criteria) was introduced. [6]

One of his low points as Chancellor was in 1968 when Nazi-hunter Beate Klarsfeld, who campaigned with her husband Serge Klarsfeld against Nazi criminals, publicly slapped him in the face during the 1968 Christian Democrat convention, while calling him a Nazi. She did so in French and - whilst being dragged out of the room by two ushers - repeated her words in German saying "Kiesinger! Nazi! Abtreten!" ("Kiesinger! Nazi! Step down!") Kiesinger, holding his left cheek, did not respond. Up to his death he refused to comment on the incident and in other opportunities he denied explicitly that he had been opportunistic by joining the NSDAP in 1933 (although he admitted to joining the German Foreign Ministry to dodge his 1940 draft by the Wehrmacht). During his period as Chancellor, he made Carl Schmitt his regular intellectual companion (also a 1933 NSDAP late-joiner). Other prominent critics included the writers Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass (in 1966, Grass had written an open letter urging Kiesinger not to accept the chancellorship).

Later years

After the election of 1969, the SPD preferred to form a coalition with the FDP, ending the uninterrupted post-war reign of the CDU chancellors. Kiesinger was succeeded as Chancellor by Willy Brandt. Kiesinger continued to head the CDU/CSU in opposition until July 1971 and remained a member of the Bundestag until 1980. Of his memoirs only part one (Dark and Bright Years) was completed, covering the years up to 1958. He died in Tübingen on 9 March 1988, four weeks before his 84th birthday. After a requiem mass in Stuttgart's St. Eberhard Church, his funeral procession was followed by protesters (mainly students) who wanted his former membership in the Nazi Party remembered.

Kiesinger's Cabinet

1 December 1966 – 21 October 1969


Related Research Articles

Free Democratic Party (Germany) Political party in Germany

The Free Democratic Party is a liberal and classical liberal political party in Germany. The FDP is led by Christian Lindner.

Christian Democratic Union of Germany political party in Germany

The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian-democratic, liberal-conservative political party in Germany. It is the major catch-all party of the centre-right in German politics. The CDU forms the CDU/CSU grouping, also known as the Union, in the Bundestag with its Bavarian counterpart the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU). The party is widely considered an effective successor of the Centre Party, although it has a broader base.

Gerhard Schröder (CDU) German politician (CDU), federal minister

Gerhard Schröder was a West German politician and member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. He served as Federal Minister of the Interior from 1953 to 1961, as Foreign Minister from 1961 to 1966, and as Minister of Defence from 1966 until 1969. In the 1969 election he ran for President of Germany but was outpolled by Gustav Heinemann.

Karl Carstens President of the Federal Republic of Germany

Karl Carstens was a German politician. He served as President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1979 to 1984.

Herbert Wehner German politician (KPD, SPD)

Herbert Richard Wehner was a German politician. A former member of the Communist Party, he joined the Social Democrats (SPD) after World War II. He served as Federal Minister of Intra-German Relations from 1966 to 1969 and thereafter as chairman of the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag until 1983.

1972 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 19 November 1972 to elect the members of the 7th Bundestag. In the first snap elections since 1949, the Social Democratic Party for the first time in the history of the second German republic became the largest party in the Bundestag, winning 242 of the 518 seats. The coalition with the Free Democratic Party was resumed.

1969 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 28 September 1969 to elect the members of the 6th Bundestag. The CDU/CSU remained the largest faction and the Social Democratic Party remained the largest single party in the Bundestag, winning 237 of the 518 seats.

1965 West German federal election

Federal elections were held in West Germany on 19 September 1965 to elect the members of the 5th Bundestag. The CDU/CSU remained the largest faction, while the Social Democratic Party remained the largest single party in the Bundestag, winning 251 of the 518 seats.

Rainer Barzel German politician of the CDU

Rainer Candidus Barzel was a German politician of the CDU. He served as the 8th President of the Bundestag from 1983 to 1984.

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).

Katholischer Studentenverein Askania-Burgundia Berlin

The Roman Catholic fraternity Askania-Burgundia is the founding fraternity of the Kartellverband katholischer deutscher Studentenvereine (KV). It is a Catholic Studentenverbindung. The headquarters of Askania-Burgundia are located in Berlin, Germany. Based on the Roman Catholic faith, Askania-Burgundia strictly refuses academic fencing. Its members do not wear couleur. Askania-Burgundia's principles are religio (religion), scientia (science) and amicitia (friendship).

Erhard Eppler German politician

Erhard Eppler is a German Social Democratic politician and founder of the GTZ.

Karl Schiller German scientist and politician

Karl August Fritz Schiller was a German economist and politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). From 1966 to 1972, he was Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and from 1971 to 1972 Federal Minister of Finance. He was the inventor of the magic square, depicting Economic equilibrium, and of the Concerted activity to reflate the German market. He is thus seen as one of the most influential German economists beside Ludwig Erhard.

Werner Dollinger German politician and economist

Werner Dollinger was a German politician and economist, a member of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU). He served as Federal Minister for the Treasury from 1962 to 1966, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation in 1966, Federal Minister for Post and Telecommunications from 1966 to 1969, and as Federal Minister of Transport from 1982 to 1987.

Karl Theodor Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg German politician (CSU), Secretary of State in the Federal Chancellery

Karl Theodor Maria Georg Achaz Eberhardt Josef Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg was a German politician of the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU). He was parliamentary secretary of state in the Chancellor's Office in the government of Kurt Georg Kiesinger from 1967 until 1969, as well as the foreign policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU group in the Bundestag. Guttenberg was perceived as a hardline conservative anticommunist as well as a convinced proponent of European integration. His work was mostly within the field of foreign policy.

In modern Germany with its parliamentary system of government on federal and on state level, grand coalition describes a governing coalition of the two biggest parties in one parliament. In most cases this means a coalition of the Union and the Social Democrats (SPD).

Lauritz Lauritzen German politician

Lauritz Lauritzen was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). He was born in Kiel and died in Bad Honnef.

Kiesinger cabinet cabinet of the German Federal Government headed by Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger (1966-1969)

The Kiesinger cabinet was the eighth of the Federal Republic of Germany. It was Germany's first Grand Coalition, a coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD. The Bundestag chosen in the September 1965 election initially resulted in the Cabinet Erhard II, but when the FDP resigned from the government, that led to the formation of this new cabinet.


  1. Kurt Georg Kiesinger
  2. Jeffrey Herf, "Judenhass aus dem Äther. NS-Propaganda für die Arabische Welt während des Zweiten Weltkriegs", in Naziverbrechen. Täter, Taten, Bewältigungsversuche, edited by Martin Cüppers et al., Darmstadt 2013, pp. 45-61, here p. 49.
  3. Munzinger-Online, s.v.Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Accessed 2010-10-16
  4. The Federal Republic of Germany: The End of an era edited by Eva Kolinsky
  5. Agricultural policy in Germany. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 1974-01-01. ISBN   9789264112834.
  6. Flora, Peter (1986-01-01). Growth to Limits: The Western European Welfare States Since World War II. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN   9783110111330.

Further reading