Walter Scheel

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Walter Scheel
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-047-20, Walter Scheel.jpg
Walter Scheel in 1974
President of West Germany
In office
1 July 1974 – 30 June 1979
Chancellor Helmut Schmidt
Preceded by Gustav Heinemann
Succeeded by Karl Carstens
Vice-Chancellor of West Germany
In office
21 October 1969 – 16 May 1974
Chancellor Willy Brandt
Preceded by Willy Brandt
Succeeded by Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Foreign Minister of West Germany
In office
21 October 1969 – 16 May 1974
Chancellor Willy Brandt
Preceded by Willy Brandt
Succeeded by Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Personal details
Born (1919-07-08) 8 July 1919 (age 95)
Solingen, Germany
Political party Free Democratic Party (Germany)
Spouse(s) Eva Charlotte Kronenberg (1942–1966)
Mildred Wirtz (1969–1985)
Barbara Wiese (1988–present)[1]
Children 4
Religion Lutheran
Signature

Walter Scheel (German pronunciation: [ˈvaltɐ ˈʃeːl]; born 8 July 1919) is a German politician (FDP). He served as Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development from 1961 to 1966, Foreign Minister of Germany and Vice Chancellor from 1969 to 1974, acting Chancellor of Germany from 7 to 16 May 1974 (following the resignation of Willy Brandt after the Guillaume Affair), and finally as President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1974 to 1979.

He is currently the oldest former German president alive and the longest-lived German head of state.

Biography[edit]

Scheel was born in Solingen (now in North Rhine-Westphalia). During World War II, he served in the Luftwaffe, the last years of the war as a radar operator on a Bf 110 night fighter with the III/NJG1, with "Nachtjäger" ace Martin Drewes.

When his Free Democratic Party reentered government in a coalition with Konrad Adenauer's Christian Democratic Union in 1961, Scheel was appointed federal minister of economic cooperation and development. He continued in that office under Chancellor Ludwig Erhard but brought about the downfall of the latter in late 1966 of which he had become the leader, out of the coalition government. A Christian Democratic / Social Democratic Grand Coalition followed. During this time, in 1968, Scheel took over the party presidency from right wing liberal Erich Mende.

In 1969, he led his party to form a new coalition with the Social Democrats. Under Chancellor Willy Brandt, Scheel became Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor. Under their leadership, West Germany pursued a course of rapprochement and détente with the Soviet block and officially recognized the existence of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). This policy caused a massive public debate, with various Free and Social Democrats switching sides to the opposition. Though an attempt to oust Brandt failed, the coalition had lost its slender majority. The parliamentary stalemate was ended by the dissolution of parliament and early elections in 1972, which brought great gains to the Social Democrats and enabled the coalition to continue.

On 7 May 1974, Brandt resigned as Chancellor after one of his aides, Günter Guillaume, was arrested as a spy for the East German state. Though this had been internally suspected since 1973, Brandt accepted responsibility and resigned. Scheel, as acting chancellor, chaired the government meetings for a little over a week, until Helmut Schmidt was elected. Hans Dietrich Genscher became Scheel's successor as party chairman and as minister.

At that time, Scheel was elected President of Germany, an office he held from July 1974 until June 1979. At the funeral of Hanns Martin Schleyer in October 1977, Scheel gave a speech entitled shame.

Scheel was Chairman of the Bilderberg Conference as well as President of the European Movement in Germany from 1980 to 1985.[2] From 1980 to 1989 he was also President of the German section of the Union of European Federalists (UEF). He has been honorary chairman of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation since 1991.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Walter Scheel (1974–1979)". German Federal Presidency. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Mittag 2009: 29

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gustav Heinemann
President of West Germany
1974–1979
Succeeded by
Karl Carstens
Preceded by
Willy Brandt
Foreign Minister of West Germany
1969–1974
Succeeded by
Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Preceded by
Willy Brandt
Vice-Chancellor of West Germany
1969–1974
Succeeded by
Hans-Dietrich Genscher