Werner Maihofer

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Werner Maihofer
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F042278-0004, Prof. Dr. Werner Maihofer.jpg
Werner Maihofer in 1974
Federal Minister of the Interior
In office
16 May 1974 – 8 June 1978
Preceded by Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Succeeded by Gerhart Baum
Personal details
Born (1918-10-20)20 October 1918
Konstanz, Baden
Died 6 October 2009(2009-10-06) (aged 90)
Bad Homburg
Nationality German
Political party Free Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Freiburg
Profession Jurist

Werner Maihofer (20 October 1918 – 6 October 2009) was a German jurist and legal philosopher. He served as Germany's Federal Minister of the Interior from 1974–1978 until he resigned after a scandal involving an illegal wiretapping of Klaus Traube.


An avid speed skater in his youth, Maihofer was a member of the German national team at the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.[1] Maihofer served in the Wehrmacht in World War II. He studied law at the University of Freiburg, and received his Doctor of Laws degree in 1950. Maihofer gained his habilitation in 1953 and eventually obtained a professorship at the University of Saarbrücken.

Maihofer did not join the Free Democratic Party until 1969. One of the leaders of thought of social liberalism in Germany, he co-authored the Freiburg theses alongside Karl-Hermann Flach and Walter Scheel in 1971. In 1974, he succeeded Hans-Dietrich Genscher as Federal Ministry of the Interior, and—during the German Autumn—had to back several restraints of civil liberty.

Illegal wiretapping[edit]

During the German Autumn the Red Army Fraction increased their activities. Suspected contacts were monitored in the hope of gaining information that might lead to the capture of the militants. Klaus Traube, a nuclear industrialist, was sympathetic to groups opposed to nuclear power. He was suspected of passing secret information to left-wing radicals. In 1975, in a covert operation called "Operation Müll" ("operation trash"), the BND, under the supervision of Maihofer planted a number of wiretaps in Traube's home.[2] They also later informed his employer who, as a result, dismissed him. This illegal operation was uncovered in 1977 by the magazine Der Spiegel.[2] Maihofer resigned from his office in 1978, after taking responsibility for the illegal wiretapping. Maihofer returned to his chair at the University of Bielefeld which he held since 1970.


Maihofer died on 6 October 2009 being the oldest German Federal Minister at the time of this death.[1][3] He was laid to rest in Frankfurt am Main.


  1. ^ a b Prantl, Heribert (19 October 2009), "Ex-Innenminister Maihofer gestorben - Im Zweifel für die Freiheit", Süddeutsche Zeitung 
  2. ^ a b "Der Minister und die ‘Wanze’", Der Spiegel, 28 February 1977 
  3. ^ Sieber, Gerhild (20 October 2009), "Alt-Rektor der Universität des Saarlandes Professor Werner Maihofer verstorben", Presse- und Informationszentrum - Universität des Saarlandes