Gerhard Schröder (CDU)

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Person.png Gerhard Schröder (CDU)  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician)
Verteidigungsminister Dr. Gerhard Schröder (4909218775).jpg
Born11 September 1910
Died31 December 1989 (Age 79)
NationalityGerman
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh, University of Konigsberg, University of Bonn
West Germany Foreign Minister in the 1960s

Employment.png West Germany/Minister of Foreign Affairs

In office
14 November 1961 - 30 November 1966

Employment.png West Germany/Minister of Defence

In office
1 December 1966 – - 21 October 1969
Preceded byKarl-Uwe von Hassel, Helmut Schmidt, Gerhard Schröder (CDU), Manfred Wörner"strong class="error">Error: Invalid time." contains an extrinsic dash or other characters that are invalid for a date interpretation.Karl-Uwe von Hassel
Succeeded byHelmut Schmidt

Employment.png West Germany/Minister of the Interior

In office
20 October 1953 - 13 November 1961

Employment.png Member of the Bundestag Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
7 September 1949 - 4 November 1980

Not to be confused with the eponymous German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Gerhard Schröder was a West German politician and member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. With closet ties to the British, 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.[1]

Early Life

Gerhard Schröder's father was a railway official in the Rhineland.

He studied law at the Albertus University in Königsberg because he wanted to gain new experience far from his hometown. Later he studied for two semesters at the University of Edinburgh, where he was impressed by the British way of life, to which he felt lifelong affinity. From the summer of 1931 he was a student in Berlin, where he experienced the sometimes bloody clashes between political opponents in the final phase of the Weimar Republic, and soon afterwards he moved to the University of Bonn. During this time he was involved in university politics and was a member of the far right (but not Nazi) DVP university group.

Schröder completed his law studies in 1932, and became a tax lawyer in Berlin 1933–1939.

World War 2

In September 1939 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and trained as a radio operator. From September 1940 to May 1941 he received an exemption from the Wehrmacht and during this time worked in his office in Berlin. During the Russian campaign he got trapped in the kettle at Cholm and was wounded by shrapnel in his right lower leg, so that he was unfit for war until 1943. After his recovery he was employed as a radio instructor (most recently in the rank of non-commissioned officer) near Berlin and surrendered to the US troops in 1945 near Calbe.

His wife Brigitte Schröder, whose brother was a friend and fellow student of Schröder, was considered a “mixed race” according to the Nuremberg Laws due to her partly Jewish origin, although she was a noble. The wedding was therefore only possible with a special permit from the Wehrmacht. Schröder had to forego a military career in writing, so that he only held the rank of corporal in the Wehrmacht.

He was interned in a British POW camp near Bad Segeberg, where he was a translator. He was released from captivity as early as June 1945.After his release from captivity, he met his wife again in Hamburg. She had fled with their children from their parents' manor in Silesia, which now was lost, and the properties eventually became part of Poland.

Early Post War

In 1945, Schröder received a position as a senior government councilor in the Rhine Province, under Hans Fuchs. He kept this even after the British occupation forces replaced Fuchs with Robert Lehr. During this time he also made contact with Konrad Adenauer and Kurt Schumacher.

At the turn of the year 1945 to 1946 he became head of the German electoral law committee in the British occupation zone. This committee had the task of making proposals to the British occupying forces for the course of the first local elections.

From 1947 until 1953 he worked as a lawyer and as a department head at "North German Iron and Steel Control" (NGISC), in the British occupation zone. He was the advisor to Heinrich Dinkelbach, the head of the NGISC. During this time he had also become a member of the supervisory boards of two steel companies, the Hüttenwerk Haspe AG and the Duisburg Ruhrort-Meiderich AG. He became noted for his rejection of the communist party, KPD, which was strongly represented on both supervisory boards.

From March to mid-April 1953 was in the United States, on invitation from the State Department, with some other young politicians in the governing coalition. Various visits to government agencies and military institutions there followed a brief audience with the then President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Interior Minster

On October 20, 1953, Schröder was appointed to the office of Federal Minister of the Interior by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

Schröder pushed through a ban against the Communist Party, KPD. It was finally prohibited on August 17, 1956 by a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court. The organization was formally dissolved and the party's assets confiscated. In all major West German cities, party offices were searched and then closed, printing plants were confiscated, large quantities of printed materials were seized, and party assets were confiscated. Numerous officials were arrested.[2]

Over the next decade, tens of thousands leftists were charged and over 3,000 people were sentenced to prison terms for illegal party allegiance. An unknown number, but at least in the tens of thousands, were fired or their careers ruined.

Foreign Minister

At the time, there was a struggle between the Gaullists, who wanted a more independent European way after inspiration from French President Charles de Gaulle, and the transatlantics, who wanted strong ties to the UK and especially the United States. Schröder was on the transatlantic side. He developed a good relationship with his US colleague Dean Rusk. but stayed cool to the French FM Maurice Couve de Murville. When his Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed the Élysée Treaty with Charles de Gaulle in 1963, Schröder had to tag along. The US faction opposed the treaty, and soon emptied it of any significance, and arranged to remove Adenauer.

Schröder hoped that West Germany would continue to have a say in NATO's defense policy. Above all, he hoped that it would also have influence on the alliance's nuclear policies , because West Germany did not have any nuclear weapons, but measured against the strength of its army it was the strongest NATO member in Europe.

At the end of May 1962, Schröder gathered a small group of employees for a strategy conference in the Maria Laach Abbey in order to discuss new approaches in Ostpolitik with them. Without recognizing the GDR (East Germany), it was agreed that trade relations with the Warsaw Pact states should be established.

His program was very controversial in the CDU, especially among his strongest critics around von Guttenberg and Krone; The FDP and SPD, on the other hand, welcomed these new tones in German foreign policy. Schröder, who was always shunned by the opposition and the coalition partner as interior minister, became a trustworthy cooperation partner in the office of foreign minister. The first trading office was opened in Warsaw on March 7, 1963 after the successful conclusion of a contract. By the end of 1964, it was possible to open commercial agencies in almost all Eastern Bloc states with the exception of the GDR (East Germany).

Minister of Defence

Some important defense policy decisions were made during his tenure. He appointed Johannes Steinhoff as inspector of the air force. In consultation with his British counterpart Denis Healy, he laid the foundation stone for a European fighter aircraft project from which the Tornado would later emerge. As Defense Minister, Schröder was also eager for the resumption of the project of a joint coordination of nuclear weapons in the NATO alliance, after the Multilateral Force failed. Therefore, he supported the establishment of the NATO Nuclear Planning Group.

After Cabinet

He was candidate for the largely ceremonial post of President in 1969, but failed to get the appointment.

From 1969 to 1980 he was chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament.

After leaving parliament in 1980, Schröder maintained a private discussion group of former politicians, diplomats and economic functionaries who philosophized about the global problems of the new era, but no longer intervened politically in day-to-day business. In this group, he championed the Reagan administration, as in his opinion strength was again shown in the west, and endorsed the SDI program.


 

Events Participated in

EventStartEndLocation(s)Description
Bilderberg/197123 April 197125 April 1971US
Vermont
Woodstock
Woodstock Inn
The 20th Bilderberg, 89 guests
Bilderberg/197221 April 197223 April 1972Belgium
Hotel La Reserve
Knokke
The 21st Bilderberg, 102 guests. It spawned the Trilateral Commission.
Bilderberg/197419 April 197421 April 1974France
Hotel Mont d' Arbois
Megève
The 23rd Bilderberg, held in the UK


References

  1. Significant parts of this article is based on the German Wikipedia entry, which again mostly used a book by Torsten Oppelland as reference: Gerhard Schröder (1910–1989). Politik zwischen Staat, Partei und Konfession
  2. https://www.rosalux.de/publikation/id/9129/das-kpd-verbot-1956