The Kaiser, I mean, Chancellor of Germany, was a position which rose to prominence with the establishment of the North German Confederation, of which Otto von Bismarck became its Chancellor in 1867. Four years later, Germany was finally unified in 1871 and this established the position of what was then known as the Imperial Chancellor. After the First World War, the Weimar Republic rose to power and this meant limited powers for the Chancellor. The main powers that the Chancellor has today came after the Second World War with the 1949 constitution.
The Chancellor of Germany is formally addressed as "Herr Bundeskanzler", or "Frau Bundeskanzlerin" for the female counterpart. The federal parliament over which the Chancellor rules is called the Bundestag. The term length is 4 years for any given Chancellor.
The table that follows goes through the Chancellors since the inception of the 1949 constitution and below details some significant histories from the more major Chancellors during this period.
|Konrad Adenauer||1949-1963||Christian Democratic Union|
|Ludwig Erhard||1963-1966||Independent (Christian Democratic Union)|
|Kurt Georg Kiesinger||1966-1969||Christian Democratic Union|
|Willy Brandt||1969-1974||Social Democratic Party of Germany|
|Walter Scheel (acting)||1974-1974||Free Democratic Party|
|Helmut Schmidt||1974-1982||Social Democratic Party of Germany|
|Helmut Kohl||1982-1998||Christian Democratic Union|
|Gerhard Schröder||1998-2005||Social Democratic Party of Germany|
|Angela Merkel||2005-||Christian Democratic Union|
Let's take a little look at some of the major events of some of the principal Chancellors of Germany:
Konrad Adenauer (1949-1963)
- First post-World War II Chancellor of Germany - led a battered and bruised Germany into more prosperous and productive times.
- Also played a major role in reprising good relations with the US and France.
- He was the first leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
- Nicknamed, Der Alte ('the Old One'), given Adenauer had come to power at the ripe old age of 73!
- Adenauer founded the Bundeswehr in 1955 which is effectively the armed forces of Germany.
Ludwig Erhard (1963-1966)
- Famed for postwar economic reform and the economy's subsequent recovery, known as the Wirtschaftswunder ('economic miracle'). This was because he was previously the Minister of Economics under Adenauer.
- So much so, Erhard is often called the "father of the German economic miracle".
- Support for America's involvement in Vietnam ultimately proved fatal for the Erhard Administration.
Willy Brandt (1969-1974)
- Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 due to his valiant efforts in trying to reconcile West Germany with the Soviet bloc.
- He was the first Social Democrat Chancellor since 1930.
- Brandt's policy of Ostpolitik (improving relations with East Germany, Poland and Soviet Union) is probably his most significant legacy even though this proved controversial.
- Brandt resigned in 1974 after it was discovered that one of his closest aides, Gunter Guillaume, was an agent of the Stasi (the East German Secret Service).
- The forthcoming Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt (1974-1982) was the guy who happened to be the Minister for Finance (1972-1974) during the period which consolidated the Wirtschaftswunder. Hence, Schmidt too receives a lot of credit for this economic success.
Helmut Kohl (1982-1998)
- Kohl was Chancellor of West Germany up until 1990 when thereafter he became the Chancellor of a united Germany.
- His 16 year reign is the longest since the 19th century when Otto Von Bismarck was in power.
- He oversaw the end of the Cold War and together with French President Francois Mitterand, he is also considered the principal architect of the Maastricht Treaty which established the European Union.
- In 1998, Kohl was named Honorary Citizen of Europe, an honour only previously bestowed upon Jean Monnet.
That's it for this section on the Chancellors of Germany; if you've any other interesting facts then do be sure to drop them into the comments section below.