German Chancellery

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German Chancellery
Bundesadler Bundesorgane.svg
Agency overview
Formed 1871, 1949
Jurisdiction Government of Germany
Headquarters Berlin (primary)
Bonn (secondary)
Annual budget EUR 62.747 million (2015)[1]
Agency executive

The German Chancellery (German: Bundeskanzleramt) is an agency serving the executive office of the Chancellor of Germany, the head of the federal government, currently Angela Merkel. The Chancellery's primary function is to assist the Chancellor in coordinating the activities of the federal government. The chief of the Chancellery (Chef des Bundeskanzleramtes) holds the rank of either a Secretary of State (Staatssekretär) or a Federal Minister (Bundesminister), currently held by Peter Altmaier.

Bundeskanzleramt is also the name of the building in Berlin that houses the personal offices of the Chancellor and the Chancellery staff. Palais Schaumburg in Bonn is the secondary official seat of the German Federal Chancellery. The Berlin Chancellery is one of the largest government headquarters buildings in the world. By comparison, the new Chancellery building is ten times the size of the White House.[2]


Bundeskanzleramt Berlin, main seat since 2001
Palais Schaumburg, the Chancellery building in Bonn
Chancellery Berlin, view from the Reichstag
Nightly view on the Bundeskanzleramt Berlin
Press conference with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and view on the Reichstag building

When the North German Confederation was created as a federally organised country, in 1867, the constitution mentioned only the Bundeskanzler as the responsible executive organ. There was no collegial government with ministers. Federal Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the beginning only established a Bundeskanzleramt as his office. It was the only 'ministry' of the country until in early 1870 the Prussian foreign office became the North German foreign office. At that occasion, the Bundeskanzleramt lost some tasks to the foreign office.

When the North German Confederation became the German Empire in 1871, the Bundeskanzleramt was renamed to Reichskanzleramt. It originally had its seat in the Radziwiłł Palace (also known as Reichskanzlerpalais), originally built by Prince Antoni Radziwiłł on Wilhelmstraße 77 in Berlin. More and more imperial offices were separated from the Reichskanzleramt,[3] e.g. the Reichsjustizamt (Office for National Justice) in 1877. What remained of the Reichskanzleramt became in 1879 the Reichsamt des Innern (the home office).

In 1878 Imperial Chancellor Bismarck created a new office for the chancellor's affairs, the Reichskanzlei. It kept its name over the years, also in the republic since 1919. In 1938–39, the building Neue Reichskanzlei (New Imperial Chancellery), designed by Albert Speer, was built; its main entrance was located at Voßstraße 6, while the building occupied the entire northern side of the street. It was damaged during World War II and later demolished by Soviet occupation forces.

A couple of years after the war, in 1949 the Federal Republic was created. The capital became Bonn. Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer used the Museum Koenig for the first two months and then moved the Bundeskanzleramt into Palais Schaumburg until a new Chancellery building was completed in 1976. The then new West German Chancellery building was a black structure completed in the International Style, in an unassuming example of modernism. A separate building Kanzlerbungalow served as private residence of the Chancellor and his family 1964-1999.

Nearly ten years after German reunification in 1990, in the summer of 1999, most of the German government moved to Berlin. The Chancellery was temporarily housed in the former GDR State Council building (Staatsratsgebäude) as the new Chancellery building was not yet finished at the time.

Berlin 2001: the new Chancellery building[edit]

The current Chancellery building (opened in the spring of 2001) was designed by Charlotte Frank and Axel Schultes and was built by a joint venture of Royal BAM Group's subsidiary Wayss & Freytag and the Spanish Acciona[4] from concrete and glass in an essentially postmodern style, though some elements of modernist style are evident. The design went through three versions between 1995 and 1997.[5] Occupying 12,000 square meters (129,166 square feet), it is also the largest government headquarters building in the world. By comparison, the new Chancellery building is ten times the size of the White House.[2][6] A semi official Chancellor apartment is located on the top floor of the building. The 200 square meter two-room flat has thus far only been occupied by Gerhard Schröder; current Chancellor Angela Merkel prefers to live in her private apartment in Berlin.

Because of its distinctive but controversial architecture, journalists, tourist guides and some locals refer to the buildings as Kohllosseum (as a mix of Colosseum and former chancellor Helmut Kohl under whom it was built), Bundeswaschmaschine (federal laundry machine, because of the round-shaped windows and its cubic form), or Elefantenklo (elephant loo).


Access for the general public is only possible on particular days during the year. Since 1999, the German government has welcomed the general public for one weekend per year to visit its buildings - usually in August.

Heads of the Chancellery[edit]

Chiefs (Directors) of the Chancellery attend Cabinet meetings. They may also sit as members of the Cabinet if they are also given the position of Minister for Special Affairs (Minister für besondere Aufgaben). They are often called "Kanzleramtsminister" (chancellery minister).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Open Budget of the German Government". Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Lisa Erdmann (September 22, 2013). "Kanzlerin-Insignien: Alles meins". SPIEGEL ONLINE. 
  3. ^ Ernst Rudolf Huber: Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte seit 1789. Vol. III: Bismarck und das Reich. 3rd edition, Stuttgart 1988, p. 835.
  4. ^ Structurae database
  5. ^ Martin Filler (August 30, 1998), Edifice Complex: The new Germany must find an architecture that won't evoke the old. New York Times.
  6. ^ Steven Rosenberg (January 19, 2007). "Merkel's faces tough EU challenge". BBC. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°31′13″N 13°22′09″E / 52.520207°N 13.369052°E / 52.520207; 13.369052