List of German presidents

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A number of presidential offices have existed in Germany since the collapse of the German Empire in 1918.

The Weimar constitution of August 1919 created the office of 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 April–May 1945, Karl Dönitz briefly became President upon the suicide of Hitler.

The West German constitution (Grundgesetz, Basic Law) of May 1949 created the office of President of the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundespräsident). Since the German reunification 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
Elected Took Office Left Office
President of the Reich (Reichspräsident)
1 Friedrich Ebert face.jpg Friedrich Ebert
(1871–1925)
1919 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)
1925
1932
12 May 1925 until
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   none

Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Elected Took Office Left Office
2 President Hindenburg.jpg Reichspräsident 1925
1932
since
12 May 1925
2 August 1934
(died in office)
Non-partisan
General Field Marshal
Paul von Hindenburg
(1847–1934)
Adolf Hitler cropped restored.jpg Führer und Reichskanzler 1934
(referendum)
2 August 1934 30 April 1945
(committed suicide)
NSDAP
Adolf Hitler
(1889–1945)
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-127-06A, Karl Dönitz - crop.jpg Reichspräsident 30 April 1945 23 May 1945
(arrested by the Allies)
NSDAP
Grand Admiral
Karl Dönitz
(1891–1980)

German Democratic Republic ("East Germany", 1949–1990)[edit]

Political Party

  LDPD   SED   CDU

Status
  Acting head of state
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Elected 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)
1949
1953
1957
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
(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]
(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.

Federal Republic of Germany (1949–present; "West Germany" 1949–1990)[edit]

Political Party

  CDU   FDP   SPD   CSU   None

Status
  Acting President
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of Office Political Party
Elected Took Office Left Office
President of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundespräsident)
KAS-Arnold, Karl-Bild-398-1.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)
1949
1954
13 September 1949 12 September 1959 FDP
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1994-034-22A, Heinrich Lübke.jpg Heinrich Lübke
(1894–1972)
1959
1964
13 September 1959 30 June 1969
(resigned)
CDU
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2007-0037, Gustav Heinemann.jpg Gustav Heinemann
(1899–1976)
1969 1 July 1969 30 June 1974 SPD
4 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-047-20, Walter Scheel.jpg Walter Scheel
(1919–2016)
1974 1 July 1974 30 June 1979 FDP
5 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F040153-0032, Bonn, Pressekonferenz CDU-Vorstand, Carstens.jpg Karl Carstens
(1914–1992)
1979 1 July 1979 30 June 1984 CDU
6 Richard von Weizsäcker.jpg Richard von Weizsäcker
(1920–2015)
1984
1989
1 July 1984 30 June 1994 CDU
7 Roman Herzog 2012.JPG Roman Herzog
(1934–2017)
1994 1 July 1994 30 June 1999 CDU
8 Johannes rau 2004-05-16 berlin-RZ.jpg Johannes Rau
(1931–2006)
1999 1 July 1999 30 June 2004 SPD
9 Horst Köhler.jpg Horst Köhler
(1943–)
2004
2009
1 July 2004 31 May 2010
(resigned)
CDU
Portrait Buergermeister Boehrnsen.jpg Jens Böhrnsen[C]
(1949–)
31 May 2010 30 June 2010 SPD
10 Christian Wulff 2010.jpg Christian Wulff
(1959–)
2010 30 June 2010 17 February 2012
(resigned)
CDU
12-07-17-landtagsprojekt-bayern-RalfR-001.jpg Horst Seehofer[C]
(1949–)
17 February 2012 18 March 2012 CSU
11 2012-06-05 Bundespraesident Joachim Gauck Berlin.jpg Joachim Gauck
(1940–)
2012 18 March 2012 17 March 2017 Independent
12 Frank-Walter Steinmeier Feb 2014 (cropped).jpg Frank-Walter Steinmeier
(1956–)
2017 18 March 2017 Incumbent SPD

C Acting President, as President of the Bundesrat.

See also[edit]