Kurt Georg Kiesinger: Wikis

  
  

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Kurt Georg Kiesinger


In office
1 December 1966 – 21 October 1969
President Heinrich Lübke (1966-1969)
Gustav Heinemann (1969)
Deputy Willy Brandt
Preceded by Ludwig Erhard
Succeeded by Willy Brandt

In office
1958 – 1966
Preceded by Gebhard Müller
Succeeded by Hans Filbinger

Born 6 April 1904(1904-04-06)
Ebingen, Germany
Died 9 March 1988 (aged 83)
Political party NSDAP (1933-45), CDU
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholicism
Kurt Georg Kiesinger,
Kanzlergalerie Berlin
President Nixon and Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger waving to the crowd in Berlin.

Kurt Georg Kiesinger (6 April 1904–9 March 1988) was a conservative German politician and Chancellor of West Germany from 1 December 1966 until 21 October 1969.

Contents

Early career and wartime activities

Born in Ebingen, Baden-Württemberg, Kiesinger was educated in Berlin and became a lawyer. As a student, he joined the (non-couleur wearing) Roman Catholic corporations Alamannia Tübingen and Askania-Burgundia Berlin. He was a member of the Nazi Party since 1933. From 1940 on, Kiesinger worked at the German foreign ministry's radio propaganda department where he was responsible for that ministry's connection with the propaganda ministry. After the war, he was interned and spent several months in the Ludwigsburg camp before being acquitted by the denazification courts. During the controversies of 1966 the magazine Spiegel unearthed a Nazi-era protocol of the RSHA which noted that he was hampering anti-Jewish actions in his department.

Post war rise

By the time the first national elections were held in the Federal Republic in 1949, Kiesinger had joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and won a seat in the Bundestag, the West German parliament. 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: He was appointed Prime Minister (Ministerpräsident) of the state of Baden-Württemberg on 17 December 1958, an office in which he served until 1 December 1966.

Chancellorship and last years

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.

One of his low points as chancellor was in 1968 when activist Beate Klarsfeld publicly slapped him in the face during the 1968 Christian Democrat convention, while calling him a Nazi. She did so in French but - 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 and being close to tears, did not respond. Up to his death he refused to comment on the incident. Other prominent critics included the writers Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass, who wrote a 1966 open letter urging him not to accept the chancellorship, and the philosopher Karl Jaspers, already a resident of Switzerland, who surrendered his German passport in protest.

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. After a requiem mass in Stuttgart's St. Eberhard church, his funeral procession was followed by protesters (mainly students) who wanted his entire legacy remembered - even after his death - especially his former membership in the Nazi Party.

Kiesinger's Ministry

1 December 1966 - 21 October 1969

Changes

  • 2 April 1968 - Ernst Benda (CDU) succeeds Lücke as Minister of the Interior.
  • 16 October 1968 - Aenne Brauksiepe (CDU) succeeds Heck as Minister of Family and Youth. Erhard Eppler (SPD) succeeds Wischnewski as Minister of Economic Cooperation.
  • 7 February 1969 - Heinrich Windelen (CDU) succeeds Hassel as Minister of Displaced Persons, Refugees, and War Victims.

Literature

  • Gassert, Philipp. Kurt Georg Kiesinger 1904-1988. Kanzler zwischen den Zeiten DVA, München 2006.

Links

Political offices
Preceded by
Ludwig Erhard
Chancellor of Germany
1966–1969
Succeeded by
Willy Brandt







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