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Dregger was born in Münster. After graduating from a school in Werl, he entered the German Wehrmacht in 1939. He was wounded four times and served until the end of the war, when he commanded a battalion on the Eastern Front at the rank of Captain. In 1946 he began studying law and government at the Universities of Marburg and Tübingen, earning his doctorate in 1950.
Dregger served from 1956 to 1970 as Oberbürgermeister or mayor of Fulda; when first elected, he was the youngest mayor in West Germany. He also served from 1962 to 1972 as a member of the Landtag of Hesse. He was for a time leader of the CDU in that body, and in 1967 became state party chairman, an office which he held until 1982. In 1969 he was also elected as a member of the national board of the party. From 1972 to 1998 he was a representative in the German Bundestag; from 1982 to 1991 he was Chairman of the CDU/CSU group there.
Dregger was known as a staunch conservative and was a prominent member of the so-called Stahlhelm-Fraktion, a National-Conservative wing of the CDU. In the 1970s he was an outspoken proponent of outlawing the German Communist Party. He was responsible for the slogan "Freiheit statt Sozialismus" (Freedom instead of Socialism) with which the CDU had great success in the 1976 elections. In his eulogy, CDU/CSU parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz said of him, "Few have so clearly and categorically opposed the Left for decades". He called for Germany to "come out of Hitler's shadow". He resisted criticism of the Wehrmacht, strongly opposing a travelling exhibition called Die Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941 - 1944 (The Crimes of the Wehrmacht, 1941–1944) and writing to US Senators that if they discouraged Ronald Reagan from his presidential visit to the Bitburg military cemetery, he would "consider this to be an insult to my brother and my comrades who were killed in action". He saw himself as a defender of Germany and the last representative of the war generation in the Bundestag.
Alfred Dregger was married and had two sons; his oldest son was killed in an accident in 1972.
- "Portrait Alfred Dregger: 'Freiheit statt Sozialismus"'", Rheinische Post 30 June 2002. (German)
- Alfred Dregger, Chronik der Wende, RBB (German).
- Peter H. Merkl, German Unification in the European Context, University Park: Pennsylvania State University, 1993, 2nd ed. 2004, ISBN 0-271-02566-2, p. 128: "Conservative West German deputy Alfred Dregger, of the right-wing CDU Stahlhelm faction".
- Peter Nowak, "Der Stahlhelm-Fraktionär: Zum Tod von Alfred Dregger", junge Welt, 3 July 2002. (German)
- Stephen S. Szabo, The Changing Politics of German Security, New York: St. Martin's, 1990, ISBN 0-312-05228-6 refers to him as "a leading conservative" and says his reaction "was typical of that of the Gaullists" but that the Stahlhelm Fraktion was "[c]entered in the CSU but including key CDU figures like Alfred Dregger": pp. 118, 117, 107.
- Chronik der Wende, RBB: "Nur wenige haben sich über Jahrzehnte der politischen Linken in Deutschland so klar und deutlich entgegengestellt wie Alfred Dregger".
- Elliot Yale Neaman, A Dubious Past: Ernst Jünger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism, Berkeley: University of California, 1999, ISBN 0-520-21628-8, p. 224.
- Bitburg Controversy, Jewish Virtual Library, American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.
- "Portrait Alfred Dregger", Rheinische Post: "Bei seinen Gegnern galt er als rechtskonservativer Law-and-Order-Mann, er selbst sah sich als 'Streiter für Deutschland'. . . . [Er] sah sich als 'letzter Vertreter der Kriegsgeneration' im Bundestag".
- Michael Schwab. Alfred Dregger für Fulda und Deutschland: Stationen eines charismatischen Politikers. Fulda informiert: Dokumentationen zur Stadtgeschichte 26. Petersberg: Imhof, 2008. ISBN 978-3-86568-291-8. (German)
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