List of heads of state of Germany

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This is a list of the heads of state of Germany, from the Unification of Germany in 1871 to the present day.

From 1871 to 1918 the head of state was the Emperor, who was the same person as the King of Prussia according to the Constitution. Germany became a republic under the Constitution of 1918 and the monarch was replaced by a President with semi-presidential powers. In 1934 when President von Hindenburg died, Chancellor Adolf Hitler called for a referendum in 1934 which was to merge the offices of President and Chancellor, after the result he became Führer and Chancellor.

Monarchs (1871–1918)[edit]

The succession to the throne of Germany was the same as the succession to the throne of the Prussia.

Monarch Reign Position Royal House
# Portrait Name Reign start Reign end Duration
1 Wilhelm I of Germany.png Wilhelm I
(1797–1871)
18 January 1871 9 March 1888 17 years, 51 days German Emperor
Deutscher Kaiser
House of Hohenzollern
2 Friedrich III as Kronprinz - in GdK uniform by Heinrich von Angeli 1874.jpg Friedrich III
(1831–1888)[1]
9 March 1888 15 June 1888 0 years, 98 days German Emperor
Deutscher Kaiser
House of Hohenzollern
3 Wilhelm II of Germany.jpg Wilhelm II
(1859–1941)
15 June 1888 9 November 1918
(Abdicated)
30 years, 147 days German Emperor
Deutscher Kaiser
House of Hohenzollern

President (1919–1945)[edit]

Under the 1919 Constitution, the first constitution of the Republic of Germany, the President replaced the monarch as ceremonial head of state with semi-presidential powers. The President was elected by Universal suffrage for a seven-year term. In the event of a vacancy the Chancellor served as Acting President.

Status
  Denotes Acting President
President Term of Office Position Political party
# Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
1 Friedrich Ebert.jpg Friedrich Ebert
(1871–1925)
11 February 1919
Acting since 28 November 1918
28 February 1925
(Died in Office)
6 years, 17 days President of the Reich
Reichspräsident
SPD
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-008A-07, Hans Luther.jpg Hans Luther
(1879–1962)
28 February 1925 12 March 1925 0 years, 12 days Chancellor
Reichskanzler
Independent
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-12279, Walter Simons.jpg Walter Simons
(1861–1937)
12 March 1925 12 May 1925 0 years, 61 days President of the Supreme Court
Präsident des Obersten Gerichtshofs
Independent
2 President Hindenburg.jpg General Field Marshal
Paul von Hindenburg
(1847–1934)
12 May 1925 2 August 1934
(Died in Office)
9 years, 82 days President of the Reich
Reichspräsident
Independent
Portrait Name Term Tenure Election Year/Voter Percentage Affiliation
3 Adolf Hitler-1933.jpg Adolf Hitler
(1889–1945)
1 2 August
1934
30 April
1945
NSDAP
Died in Office
4 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-127-06A, Karl Dönitz.jpg Grand Admiral
Karl Dönitz
(1891–1980)
1 30 April
1945
23 May
1945
NSDAP

President[edit]

Under the current Constitution, the second constitution of the Republic of Germany, the President is the ceremonial head of state. The President was elected by proportional representation for a five-year term. In the event of a vacancy the President of the Bundesrat served as Acting President.

Status
  Denotes President of the Bundesrat as Acting President
Portrait Name Term Tenure Election Year/Voter Percentage Affiliation
KAS-Arnold, Karl-Bild-6100-1.jpg Karl Arnold
(1901–1958)
7 September
1949
12 September
1949
CDU
As President of the Bundesrat he acted as President until after the 1949 presidential election
5 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1983-098-20a, Heuss.jpg Theodor Heuss
(1884–1963)
1 13 September
1949
12 September
1954
1949 — %
FDP
2 13 September
1954
12 September
1959
1954 — %
6 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1994-034-22A, Heinrich Lübke.jpg Heinrich Lübke
(1894–1972)
1 13 September
1959
12 September
1964
1959 — %
CDU
2 13 September
1964
30 June
1969
1964 — %
Resigned
7 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2007-0037, Gustav Heinemann.jpg Gustav Heinemann
(1899–1976)
1 1 July
1969
30 June
1974
1969 — %
SPD
8 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-047-20, Walter Scheel.jpg Walter Scheel
(1919–)
1 1 July
1974
30 June
1979
1974 — %
FDP
9 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F040153-0032, Bonn, Pressekonferenz CDU-Vorstand, Carstens.jpg Karl Carstens
(1914–1992)
1 1 July
1979
30 June
1984
1979 — %
CDU
10 Richard von Weizsäcker.jpg Richard von Weizsäcker
(1920–)
1 1 July
1984
30 June
1989
1984 — %
CDU
2 1 July
1989
30 June
1994
1989 — %
11 Roman Herzog.jpg Roman Herzog
(1934–)
1 1 July
1994
30 June
1999
1994 — %
CDU
12 Johannes rau 2004-05-16 berlin-RZ.jpg Johannes Rau
(1931–2006)
1 1 July
1999
30 June
2004
1999 — %
SPD
13 Horst Köhler.jpg Horst Köhler
(1943–)
1 1 July
2004
30 June
2009
2004 — %
CDU
2 1 July
2009
31 May
2010
2009 — %
Resigned
Portrait Buergermeister Boehrnsen.jpg Jens Böhrnsen
(1949–)
31 May
2010
1 July/small>
2010
SPD
As President of the Bundesrat he acted as President until after the 2010 presidential election
14 Christian Wulff 2010.jpg Christian Wulff
(1959–)
1 2 July
2010
17 February
2012
2010 — %
CDU
Resigned
12-07-17-landtagsprojekt-bayern-RalfR-001.jpg Horst Seehofer
(1949–)
17 February
2012
18 March
2012
CSU
As President of the Bundesrat he acted as President until after the 2012 presidential election
15 Woche der Umwelt 2012 (7344500700).jpg Joachim Gauck
(1940–)
1 18 March
2012
2012 — %
Independent

Leader of East Germany[edit]

During the East German period the title of the heads of state varies from President to Chairman of the Council.

Status
  Denotes Acting President
Portrait Name Term Tenure Election Year/Voter Percentage Affiliation
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0711-0037-001, Johannes Dieckmann.jpg Johannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
7 October
1949
11 October
1949
LDPD
As President of the People's Chamber he acted as President until after the 1949 presidential election.
1 Fotothek df roe-neg 0002793 004 Portrait Wilhelm Piecks im Publikum der Bachfeier.jpg Wilhelm Pieck
(1876–1960)
1 11 October 1949

1953
1949 — %
SED
2
1953

1957
1953 — %
3
1957
7 September
1960
1957 — %
Died in Office.
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0711-0037-001, Johannes Dieckmann.jpg Johannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
7 September
1960
12 September
1960
LDPD
As President of the People's Chamber he acted as President after the death of Wilhelm Pieck.
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J1231-1002-002 Walter Ulbricht, Neujahrsansprache.jpg Walter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
1 12 September
1960
1 August
1973
SED
Died in Office.
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-83285-0029, Friedrich Ebert.jpg Friedrich Ebert, Jr.
(1894–1979)
1 August
1973
3 October
1973
SED
As Deputy Chairman of the State Council he acted as Chairman after the death of Walter Ulbricht.
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1986-0617-024, Willi Stoph.jpg Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
1 3 October
1973
29 October
1976
SED
4 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R0518-182, Erich Honecker.jpg Erich Honecker
(1912–1994)
1 29 October
1976
18 October
1989
SED
5 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1984-0622-026, Egon Krenz.jpg Egon Krenz
(1937–)
1 18 October
1989
6 December
1989
SED
6 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-83285-0015, Manfred Gerlach.jpg Manfred Gerlach
(1928–2011)
6 December
1989
5 April
1990
LDPD
Sabine Bergmann-Pohl.jpg Sabine Bergmann-Pohl
(1946–)
5 April
1990
2 October
1990
CDU
As President of the People's Chamber she acted as President until the German reunification

Styles of the Heads of State[edit]

Country Years Title of Head of State
German Empire German Empire 1871–1918 German Emperor
Deutscher Kaiser
Weimar Republic Weimar Republic 1919–1933 President of the Reich
Reichspräsident
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany 1933–1934 President of the Reich
Reichspräsident
1934–1945 Leader and Chancellor
Führer und Reichskanzler
1945 President of the Reich
Reichspräsident
West Germany West Germany 1949–1990 Federal President
Bundespräsident
East Germany East Germany 1949–1960 President of the German Democratic Republic
Präsident der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik
1960–1990 Chairman of the State Council
Vorsitzender des Staatsrates
Germany Reunited Germany 1990–Present Federal President
Bundespräsident

Living former heads of state[edit]

Name Term Office Date of birth
Walter Scheel 1974–1979 President of West Germany 8 July 1919
Richard von Weizsäcker 1984–1994 President of West Germany (1984–1990)
President of Germany (1990–1994)
15 April 1920
Egon Krenz 1989 President of East Germany 19 March 1937
Sabine Bergmann-Pohl 1990 Acting President of East Germany 20 April 1946
Roman Herzog 1994–1999 President of Germany 5 April 1934
Horst Köhler 2004–2010 President of Germany 22 February 1943
Jens Böhrnsen 2010 Acting President of Germany 12 June 1949
Christian Wulff 2010–2012 President of Germany 19 June 1959
Horst Seehofer 2012 Acting President of Germany 4 July 1949

References[edit]

  1. ^ Enumerated as successor of Frederick II who was King of Prussia 1740–1786 but not German Emperor.