List of German presidents

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A number of presidential offices have existed in Germany since the fall of the monarchies in 1918. During the 1919-1933 Weimar Republic the head of state was the President of Germany (German: Reichspräsident). Upon the death of Paul von Hindenburg in August 1934 the office was left vacant, with Adolf Hitler becoming head of state as Führer und Reichskanzler. In 1945, Karl Dönitz briefly became President.

The West German constitution (Grundgesetz, Basic Law) of May 1949 created the office of President of Germany (German: Bundespräsident). Since Germany was reunited in 1990 the President has been the head of state for all of Germany.

The East German constitution of October 1949 created the office of Präsident der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (DDR) ("President of the German Democratic Republic"). Upon the death of Wilhelm Pieck in 1960, the office of Präsident der DDR was abolished and replaced by a collective head of state, the Staatsrat (State Council). The Staatsrat was abolished by a constitutional amendment of the Volkskammer ("People's Chamber") on 5 April 1990. From then until the GDR joined the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990, the president of the Volkskammer also served as the GDR head of state.

Weimar Republic (1919–1933)[edit]

Political Party

      SPD       none

Status
  Acting President
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
President of the Reich (Reichspräsident)
1 Friedrich Ebert face.jpg Friedrich Ebert
(1871–1925)
11 February 1919 28 February 1925
(died in office)
SPD
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-008A-07, Hans Luther.jpg Hans Luther[A]
(1879–1962)
28 February 1925 12 March 1925 Non-partisan
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-12279, Walter Simons.jpg Walter Simons[B]
(1861–1937)
12 March 1925 12 May 1925 Non-partisan
2 President Hindenburg.jpg General Field Marshal
Paul von Hindenburg
(1847–1934)
12 May 1925 2 August 1934
(died in office)
Non-partisan

A Acting President, as Chancellor of Germany.

B Acting President, as President of the Reichsgericht.

Nazi Germany (1933–1945)[edit]

Political Party

      NSDAP

Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-S62600, Adolf Hitler.jpg Führer und Reichskanzler 2 August 1934 30 April 1945
(committed suicide)
NSDAP
Adolf Hitler
(1889–1945)
Karl Dönitz.jpg Reichspräsident 1 May 1945 23 May 1945
(arrested by the Allies)
NSDAP
Grand Admiral
Karl Dönitz
(1891–1980)

Partitioned Germany (1949–1990)[edit]

West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany)[edit]

Political Party

      CDU       FDP       SPD       None

Status
  Acting President
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
Federal President (Bundespräsident)
Karl Arnold Briefmarke Detail.jpg Karl Arnold[C]
(1901–1958)
7 September 1949 12 September 1949 CDU
1 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1983-098-20a, Heuss.jpg Theodor Heuss
(1884–1963)
13 September 1949 12 September 1959 FDP
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1994-034-22A, Heinrich Lübke.jpg Heinrich Lübke
(1894–1972)
13 September 1959 30 June 1969
(resigned)
CDU
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2007-0037, Gustav Heinemann.jpg Gustav Heinemann
(1899–1976)
1 July 1969 30 June 1974 SPD
4 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-047-20, Walter Scheel.jpg Walter Scheel
(born 1919)
1 July 1974 30 June 1979 FDP
5 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F040153-0032, Bonn, Pressekonferenz CDU-Vorstand, Carstens.jpg Karl Carstens
(1914–1992)
1 July 1979 30 June 1984 CDU
6 Richard von Weizsäcker.jpg Richard von Weizsäcker
(born 1920)
1 July 1984 until
30 June 1994
CDU

C Acting President, as President of the Bundesrat.

East Germany (German Democratic Republic)[edit]

Political Party

      LDPD       SED       CDU

Status
  Acting head of state
Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
President of the State (Staatspräsident)
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0711-0037-001, Johannes Dieckmann.jpg Johannes Dieckmann[D]
(1893–1969)
7 October 1949 11 October 1949 LDPD
1 Fotothek df roe-neg 0002793 004 Portrait Wilhelm Piecks im Publikum der Bachfeier.jpg Wilhelm Pieck
(1876–1960)
11 October 1949 7 September 1960
(died in office)
SED
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0711-0037-001, Johannes Dieckmann.jpg Johannes Dieckmann[D]
(1893–1969)
7 September 1960 12 September 1960 LDPD
Chairman of the State Council (Vorsitzender des Staatsrats)
1 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J1231-1002-002 Walter Ulbricht, Neujahrsansprache.jpg Walter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
12 September 1960 1 August 1973
(died in office)
SED
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-83285-0029, Friedrich Ebert.jpg Friedrich Ebert, Jr.[E]
(1894–1979)
1 August 1973 3 October 1973 SED
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R0430-0305A, Willi Stoph.jpg Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
3 October 1973 29 October 1976 SED
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1986-0421-044, Berlin, XI. SED-Parteitag, Erich Honecker.jpg Erich Honecker
(1912–1994)
29 October 1976 18 October 1989
(resigned)
SED
4 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1984-0704-400, Egon Krenz.jpg Egon Krenz
(born 1937)
18 October 1989 6 December 1989
(resigned)
SED
5 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1986-0617-034, Prof. Dr. Manfred Gerlach.jpg Manfred Gerlach
(1928–2011)
6 December 1989 5 April 1990
(office abolished)
LDPD
Sabine Bergmann-Pohl.jpg Sabine Bergmann-Pohl[F]
(born 1946)
5 April 1990 2 October 1990
(office abolished)
CDU

D Acting President, as President of the People's Chamber.

E Acting Chairman of the State Council, as Deputy Chairman of the State Council.

F Acting head of state, as President of the People's Chamber.

Reunified Germany (since 1990)[edit]

Political Party

      CDU       SPD       CSU       none

Status
  Acting President
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Took Office Left Office
Federal President (Bundespräsident)
6 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1991-039-11, Richard v. Weizsäcker.jpg Richard von Weizsäcker
(born 1920)
since
1 July 1984
30 June 1994 CDU
7 Roman Herzog.jpg Roman Herzog
(born 1934)
1 July 1994 30 June 1999 CDU
8 Johannes rau 2004-05-16 berlin ausschnitt.jpg Johannes Rau
(1931–2006)
1 July 1999 30 June 2004 SPD
9 Koehlerhorst08032007.jpg Horst Köhler
(born 1943)
1 July 2004 31 May 2010
(resigned)
CDU
Portrait Buergermeister Boehrnsen.jpg Jens Böhrnsen[C]
(born 1949)
31 May 2010 30 June 2010 SPD
10 Christian Wulff 2010.jpg Christian Wulff
(born 1959)
30 June 2010 17 February 2012
(resigned)
CDU
12-07-17-landtagsprojekt-bayern-RalfR-001.jpg Horst Seehofer[C]
(born 1949)
17 February 2012 18 March 2012 CSU
11 Woche der Umwelt 2012 (7344500700).jpg Joachim Gauck
(born 1940)
18 March 2012 Incumbent Independent

C Acting President, as President of the Bundesrat.

See also[edit]