Thomas de Maizière

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Thomas de Maizière
2017-05-10 Thomas de Maiziere (re-publica 17) by Sandro Halank.jpg
De Maizière in 2017
Minister of the Interior
In office
17 December 2013 14 March 2018
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Hans-Peter Friedrich
Succeeded by Horst Seehofer
In office
28 October 2009 3 March 2011
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Wolfgang Schäuble
Succeeded by Hans-Peter Friedrich
Minister of Defence
In office
3 March 2011 17 December 2013
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
Succeeded by Ursula von der Leyen
Chief of the Chancellery
In office
22 November 2005 27 October 2009
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Succeeded by Ronald Pofalla
Minister for Special Affairs
In office
22 November 2005 27 October 2009
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Bodo Hombach (1999)
Succeeded by Ronald Pofalla
Member of the Bundestag
for Meißen
Assumed office
27 September 2009
Preceded byConstituency established
Personal details
Karl Ernst Thomas de Maizière

(1954-01-21) 21 January 1954 (age 65)
Bonn, West Germany (now Germany)
Political party Christian Democratic Union
Spouse(s)Martina de Maizière
Father Ulrich de Maizière
Relatives Lothar de Maizière (cousin)
Alma mater University of Münster
University of Freiburg

Karl Ernst Thomas de Maizière (German pronunciation: [də mɛˈzi̯ɛːɐ̯] ; born 21 January 1954) is a German politician who served as Minister of the Interior from 2009 to 2011 and 2013 to 2018, as well as Minister of Defence from 2011 to 2013. A member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he previously served as Head of the Chancellery and Minister for Special Affairs in the First Merkel cabinet from 2005 to 2009. Since 2009, he has been a member of the Bundestag for Meißen.

Federal Ministry of Defence (Germany) Ministry of Defence of Germany

The Federal Ministry of Defence, abbreviated BMVg, is a top-level federal agency, headed by the Federal Minister of Defence as a member of the Cabinet of Germany. The ministry is headquartered at the Hardthöhe district in Bonn and has a second office in the Bendlerblock building in Berlin.

Christian Democratic Union of Germany political party in Germany

The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is at this time 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). Founded in 1945 as an interdenominational Christian party, the CDU effectively replaced the pre-war Catholic Centre Party, but also included politicians of other backgrounds, liberal and conservative. The party therefore claims to represent "Christian-social, liberal and conservative" elements.

The Head of the Chancellery is the highest ranking official of the German Chancellery and the principal assistant of the Chancellor of Germany. The Chief of Staff is in charge of the running of the German Chancellery as well as with coordinating the federal government's work. The Chief of Staff is either a member of the federal cabinet with the rank of Federal Minister for Special Affairs or holds the rank of Secretary of State. All Chiefs of Staff since 2005 have been members of the federal cabinet.


Along with Ursula von der Leyen and Wolfgang Schäuble, De Maizière was one of only three ministers to have continuously served in Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinets from 2005 until 2018. [1] Together with Von der Leyen, he was widely looked on as a possible future successor to Merkel. [2] Before his appointment to the federal cabinet, he served as a minister in the state government of Saxony, including as chief of staff to the Minister-President, Minister of Finance and Minister of Justice.

Ursula von der Leyen President-elect of the European Commission

Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen is a German politician and the President-elect of the European Commission. She served in the federal government of Germany from 2005 to 2019 as the longest-serving member of Angela Merkel's cabinet. She is a member of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Wolfgang Schäuble German politician (CDU), President of the Bundestag

Wolfgang Schäuble is a German lawyer and politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party whose political career has spanned more than four decades. He is one of the most experienced and longest serving politicians in German history and since 2017 has been the President of the Bundestag.

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.

Early life and education

Maizière was born in Bonn to the later Inspector general of the Bundeswehr, Ulrich de Maizière. He graduated at the Aloisiuskolleg in Bonn and studied law and history at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster and the University of Freiburg. He passed his first state examination in law in 1979 and his second 1982, earning his Doctor of law (Dr. jur.) in 1986. [3]

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.

<i>Bundeswehr</i> Unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities

The Bundeswehr are the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities. The States of Germany are not allowed to maintain armed forces of their own, since the German Constitution states that matters of defense fall into the sole responsibility of the federal government.

Ulrich de Maizière German general

Karl Ernst Ulrich de Maizière was a German General.

He belongs to a noble family originally from Maizières-lès-Metz [4] who, as Huguenots, had fled France for asylum in Prussia in the late 17th century. [5] The Maizière family still attended French-language schools and Huguenot churches in Berlin until the beginning of the 20th century. His cousin Lothar de Maizière is also a CDU politician and was the last, and only democratically elected, Premier of the German Democratic Republic, who later served as Federal Minister of Special Affairs in the Kohl government. [5]

Maizières-lès-Metz Commune in Grand Est, France

Maizières-lès-Metz is a commune in the Moselle department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital first in Königsberg and then, in 1701, in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

Lothar de Maizière German politician

Lothar de Maizière is a German Christian Democratic politician. In 1990, he served as the only democratically elected prime minister of the German Democratic Republic, and as such was the last leader of an independent East Germany.

Political career

Early career in state politics

Maizière worked for the governing mayor (prime minister) of West Berlin (Baron Richard von Weizsäcker and Eberhard Diepgen), [6] before becoming a member of the West German team in the negotiations on German reunification. After 1990 he worked with re-establishing democratic structures in states that were part of the former German Democratic Republic. He became secretary of state at the ministry of culture of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in November 1990. From December 1994 to 1998 he was chief of staff of the Chancellery of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

West Berlin Political enclave that existed between 1949 and 1990

West Berlin was a political enclave which comprised the western part of Berlin during the years of the Cold War. There was no specific date on which the sectors of Berlin occupied by the Western Allies became "West Berlin", but 1949 is widely accepted as the year in which the name was adopted. West Berlin aligned itself politically with the Federal Republic of Germany and was directly or indirectly represented in its federal institutions.

Richard von Weizsäcker Governing Mayor of West Berlin and President of the Federal Republic of Germany

Richard Karl Freiherr von Weizsäcker was a German politician (CDU), who served as President of Germany from 1984 to 1994. Born into the aristocratic Weizsäcker family, he took his first public offices in the Evangelical Church in Germany.

Eberhard Diepgen German politician of the CDU

Eberhard Diepgen is a German politician of the CDU.

He served as the chief of the Saxon Chancellery from 1999 to 2001, with the rank of cabinet minister. As chief of staff to Kurt Biedenkopf, he helped negotiate the special Solidarity Pact designed to finance the reconstruction of the former East Germany. [6] From 2001 to 2002 he served as the minister of finance of Saxony, from 2002 to 2004 minister of justice, and from 2004 to 2005 as minister of the interior. [7]

Sächsische Staatskanzlei office of the Minister-President of Saxony

The Sächsische Staatskanzlei is the office of the Minister-President of Saxony. It is located in Dresden on the northern Elbe river banks and was established in 1995. The Staatskanzlei is managed by the State Minister and Head of the Staatskanzlei.

Kurt Biedenkopf German politician

Kurt Hans Biedenkopf is a German politician. He was the 1st Minister President of the Free State of Saxony from 1990 until 2002, as such serving as the 54th President of the Bundesrat in 1999/2000.

Chief of Staff at the Federal Chancellery (2005–2009)

On 17 October 2005, Maizière was nominated as a member of the Federal Government as chief of the Chancellor's office and as federal minister for special affairs in the first Merkel cabinet. [7] He took office on 22 November 2005, after Merkel's election as Chancellor by the Bundestag. In his capacity as chief of staff of the chancellery, he also functioned as deputy president of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik).

Between 2007 and 2009, Maizière was one of 32 members of the Second Commission on the modernization of the federal state, which was established to reform the division of powers between federal and state authorities in Germany.

Federal Minister of the Interior (2009–2011)

In the negotiations to form a coalition government following the 2009 federal elections, Maizière led the CDU/CSU delegation in the working group on taxes, national budget, and financial policy; with Hermann Otto Solms of the FDP as joint chairman. Following the formation of the Second Merkel cabinet, he took office as Federal Minister of the Interior.

As Interior Minister, Maizière long played down security worries, but he abruptly changed course late in 2010, giving warnings that there were serious indications of terror attacks being prepared in Europe and the United States. [8] In July 2010, he outlawed the Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation (IHH), a charity registered in Frankfurt, because of its alleged links to the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, arguing that "the IHH has, under the cover of humanitarian aid, supported Gaza Strip-based so-called social associations which are attributable to Hamas, for a long period of time and to a considerable financial extent." [9] That same month, Maizière announced that Germany would take over and release two prisoners of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. [10]

In October 2010, Maizière and Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer banned arrivals of all air cargo from Yemen, after the German authorities had been tipped off by a foreign intelligence service that there were explosives inside a U.S.-bound parcel trans-shipped at Cologne Bonn Airport. [11]

Minister of Defence (2011–2013)

De Maiziere as Minister of Defence at a news conference in 2012 120216-D-TT977-152 cropped.jpg
De Maizière as Minister of Defence at a news conference in 2012

On 2 March 2011, Merkel announced that Maizière was to take over from Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the federal defence minister who had resigned from office the previous day. [12] On 3 March, he was formally appointed to this post. [13] He held the defence ministry portfolio until 17 December 2013.

Signaling one of the biggest shake-ups in decades for the German military, in 2011 Maizière unveiled plans to reduce troop numbers, cut bureaucracy, and eliminate duplication inside the Federal Ministry of Defence. Under these proposals, the army was to be turned into a wholly professional force. [14]

On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the diplomatic relations between German and India, Maizière participated in the first joint cabinet meeting of the two countries’ governments in Delhi in May 2011. [15] On 7 June 2011, he attended the state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama in honor of Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House. [16]

Speaking to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in February 2012, Maizière said that an Israel Defense Forces strike on Iran's nuclear facilities was "highly unlikely" to succeed, and noted that such a strike would cause "obvious political damage." [17] During a meeting in Berlin in March 2012, he warned Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak against an attack on Iran, joining other Western countries which were applying heavy international pressure on Israel to prevent it from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. [18] [19]

In 2012, Maizière told a gathering of army reservists that he considered the U.S. strategy of using drones for targeted killings a "strategic mistake". According to the online news edition of the German public television broadcaster ARD , Maizière had said he thought it was unwise to have U.S. commanders direct such attacks from their bases in the United States. [20]

Second appointement as Federal Minister of the Interior (2013–2018)

Thomas de Maiziere with his Italian counterpart Marco Minniti, 2017 Minniti and De Maiziere.jpg
Thomas de Maizière with his Italian counterpart Marco Minniti, 2017

In the negotiations to form a government following the 2013 federal elections, Maizière led the CDU/CSU members in the working group on foreign affairs, defense, and development cooperation; his co-chair from the SPD was Frank-Walter Steinmeier. On 17 December 2013, he was appointed as Federal Minister of the Interior for a second time. [21] In addition, he co-chairs the EPP Justice and Home Affairs Ministers Meeting, alongside Esteban González Pons. [22]

On 23 February 2014, Bild am Sonntag reported that Maizière and other members of the government, as well as leading figures in business, were under NSA surveillance. The newspaper report, quoting an unnamed NSA official, said the U.S. was particularly interested in the interior minister "because he is a close aide of Merkel, who seeks his advice on many issues and was rumored to be promoting his candidacy for the post of NATO secretary-general." [23] [24] From the beginning of 2015, the left-wing opposition and media commentators have repeatedly criticized de Maizière over his record as chief of staff in 2005-09, and over what he knew about Germany's Federal Intelligence Service (BND) helping U.S. agencies to spy on European firms such as the defence manufacturer Airbus. [25]

In late 2014, Maizière proposed a law according to which the government would have the power to withdraw the identity cards of potential foreign fighters and replace them with another form of identification; this was meant to allow government agencies to prevent Germans from leaving the country to join groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. [26] In May 2015, he banned Yuruyus, a leftist-terrorist newspaper published by the Turkish extremist group DHKP-C, and had his ministry order raids across the country in connection with this ban. [27]

By late 2015, amid the European migrant crisis, de Maizière urged that Europe should set a limit on the number of refugees it takes in and seek out those most clearly entitled to protection. [28] His critics say he failed to fight for more staff and budget for the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), which falls under his ministry, despite years of warnings from German states that the agency was being overwhelmed with asylum applications. [29] In an effort to better detect the identities of migrants arriving from Syria, Afghanistan and other trouble spots, de Maizière later spearheaded the introduction of an identity card for refugees. [30]

In 2016, Maizière banned the neo-Nazi group "White Wolves Terror Crew" (WWT) following raids on 15 properties across the country as worries were growing about a rise in right-wing sentiment after the influx of more than a million migrants the previous year. [31]

In January 2016, Maizière participated in the first joint cabinet meeting of the governments of Germany and Turkey in Berlin. [32]

Later career

Since leaving government in 2018, Maizère has been serving on the Committee on Finance. In addition to his work in parliament, he has been teaching constitutional law at the University of Leipzig. [33]

Ahead of the Christian Democrats’ leadership election in 2018, de Maizière publicly endorsed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to succeed Angela Merkel as the party’s chair. [34]

Since 2019, de Maizière has been serving as chairman of the Deutsche Telekom Foundation. [35] Also in 2019, he was appointed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community to serve on the committee that oversaw the preparations for the 30th anniversary of German reunification. [36]

Other activities


Personal life

Maizière is married to Martina de Maizière, with whom he has three children. He is protestant.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Chief of the Chancellery
Succeeded by
Ronald Pofalla
Title last held by
Bodo Hombach
Minister for Special Affairs
Preceded by
Wolfgang Schäuble
Minister of the Interior
Succeeded by
Hans-Peter Friedrich
Preceded by
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Ursula von der Leyen
Preceded by
Hans-Peter Friedrich
Minister of the Interior
Succeeded by
Horst Seehofer