Eugen Gerstenmaier

Eugen Karl Albrecht Gerstenmaier (25 August 1906 – 13 March 1986 in Oberwinter) was a German Evangelical theologian, resistance fighter in the Third Reich, and a CDU politician. From 1954 to 1969, he was the 3rd President of the Bundestag.

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F007686-0002, Bonn, Ordensverleihung an Dr. Eugen Gerstenmaier
Eugen Gerstenmaier 1960

Life, career, resistance

Gerstenmaier was born in Kirchheim unter Teck.

After training as a salesman, Gerstenmaier did his Abitur and then studied philosophy, German language and literature, and Evangelical theology in Tübingen, Rostock and Zurich. In 1934, he was detained for a short time for being a member of the Confessing Church. In 1935, he became Theodor Heckel's assistant in the German Evangelical Church's office for outside affairs. After the Munich Conference in 1938, Gerstenmaier joined the resistance group about the Kreisau Circle.

On 20 July 1944, the day of Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg's attempt on Adolf Hitler's life at the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia, Gerstenmaier was at his assigned place at the Bendlerblock in Berlin to support the attempted assassination and coup d'état against the Nazi régime. Along with many others, he was arrested after the plot failed, and on 11 January 1945, Gerstenmaier was sentenced by the Volksgerichtshof to seven years in labour prison (Zuchthaus). This by the standards of "hanging judge" Roland Freisler unusually lenient sentence (the prosecution had demanded death by hanging) may partially be explained by Gerstenmaier's playing the "unworldly theologian" role to the hilt, partially by intercession on his behalf with Freisler by acting national press chief Sündermann [1]. Of course, he spent only a few months there, and was freed by US troops at the end of the war. Along with Hermann Ehlers, a German politician, he was active in the Evangelical Aid organization (Evangelisches Hilfswerk). From 1945 to 1951, he was its leader.

In the Bundestag

From 1949 to 1969, Gerstenmaier was a member of the Bundestag for the CDU. From 1949 to 1953, he was the Acting Chairman of the Foreign Board at the Bundestag, and eventually, until 17 December 1954, the Chairman.

Bonn LangerEugen Posttower
"Langer Eugen" in Bonn, the former (until 1999) Bundestag members' office building.

After Hermann Ehlers's sudden death in 1954, Gerstenmaier became his successor (until 1969) as Bundestag President. With his election on 16 November 1954 arose a unique situation with two factional colleagues running against each other for the Bundestag Presidency. Against the "official" CDU/CSU candidate Gerstenmaier, whom many members, and the governing coalition, saw as being too close to the Church, stood Ernst Lemmer, put forward by FDP member Hans Reif, who lost only on the third ballot by a mere 14 votes. From 1957 until 12 October 1959, Gerstenmaier was Chairman of the Subcommission for managing the Bundestag "household".

On 31 January 1969, Gerstenmaier resigned his post as Bundestag President after public controversy about claims of certain compensation benefits, to which he was legally entitled. However, the sheer amount of these claims was considered scandalous, and the suspicion that political influence was at work could not be allayed. His successor was Kai-Uwe von Hassel.

Gerstenmeier died in Bonn. The 29-floor highrise in Bonn, in whose building Gerstenmaier had played such a significant rôle, and in which each member of the Bundestag had an office, is nicknamed "Langer Eugen" ("Long Eugen") after Eugen Gerstenmaier. It has, however, been described as "Bonn's ugliest building". Since June 2006 it is seat of United Nations Organizations.

Political leanings

Eugen Gerstenmaier belonged to a CDU faction who internally criticized Konrad Adenauer's policy of engaging the West because that brought along with it a tendency to turn away from the goal of reuniting Germany. Even in social policy, Gerstenmaier was rather critical of Adenauer and supported Ludwig Erhard's position instead, with pointedly Christian-Protestant arguments against the "total welfare state". From 1956 to 1966, he was acting CDU Federal Chairman.

Gerstenmaier belonged to the select committee of both "Union" parties (the CDU and CSU) which on 24 February 1959 put forward Ludwig Erhard as a candidate for Federal President (Bundespräsident), although Erhard declined the honour.


In 1980, Gerstenmaier was the CDU's delegate alongside Hermann Kunst (Chairman), Alex Möller (for the SPD), Rudolf Hanauer (for the CSU) and Bernhard Leverenz (for the FDP) on the Arbitration Committee for Overseeing Compliance with the Election Campaigning Agreement in the Bundestag election campaign.

From 1977 until his death, Gerstenmaier was Chairman of the Association of Former Members of the German Bundestag (or as of 1984, the Association of Former Members of the German Bundestag and the European Parliament).

In 1957, Gerstenmaier received the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for Services to the Republic of Austria.[2]


  • Der dritte Bundestag. Zum Wahlgesetz und zur Gestalt des künftigen Parlaments, in: Der Wähler, Jg. 1955, Heft 11, Seiten 495-497
  • Brauchen wir einen besseren Bundestag?, in: DER SPIEGEL, Jg. 1964, Heft 38 vom 16. September 1964
  • Öffentliche Meinung und Parlamentarische Entscheidung, in: Karl Dietrich Bracher u.a., Die moderne Demokratie und ihr Recht. Festschrift für Gerhard Leibholz zum 65. Geburtstag, Tübingen 1966, Seiten 123-134
  • Zukunftserwartungen der Demokratie, in: Bitburger Gespräche, Jahrbuch 1972/73, Trier 1974, Seiten 41-50
  • Gewissensentscheidung im Parlament, in: Deutsches Ärzteblatt, Jg. 1980, Heft 30, Seiten 1855-1858
  • Streit und Friede hat seine Zeit. Ein Lebensbericht, Frankfurt am Main 1981


  • Bruno Heck (ed.): Widerstand - Kirche - Staat. Eugen Gerstenmaier zum 70. Geburtstag. Stuttgart 1976
  • Daniela Gniss: Der Politiker Eugen Gerstenmaier 1906-1986, Düsseldorf 2005
  • Michael F. Feldkamp (ed.): Der Bundestagspräsident. Amt - Funktion - Person. 16. Wahlperiode, München 2007, ISBN 978-3-7892-8201-0


  1. ^ Fabian von Schlabrendorff, Eugen Gerstenmaier im Dritten Reich, Eine Dokumentation, Stuttgart 1965, pp. 35-36
  2. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 37. Retrieved 2 October 2012.

External links

1986 in Germany

Events in the year 1986 in Germany.

Alfred Delp

Alfred Delp, S.J. (Mannheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, 15 September 1907 – Berlin, 2 February 1945), was a German Jesuit priest and philosopher of the German Resistance. A member of the inner Kreisau Circle resistance group, he is considered a significant figure in Catholic resistance to Nazism. Falsely implicated in the failed 1944 July Plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler, Delp was arrested and sentenced to death. He was executed in 1945.

Bundeshaus (Bonn)

The Bundeshaus (Federal House) is a building complex in Bonn, Germany, which served as the Provisional Parliament House of the Federal Republic of Germany, and thus the seat of the German Bundestag and Bundesrat, from 1949 until 1999. The main building, constructed between 1930 and 1933, served as a Pedagogical Academy until the end of the Second World War. After the resolution of the Hauptstadtfrage (Capital Question) in 1949 in favor of Bonn, the structure was converted into the provisional seat of the Bundestag and Bundesrat.

For over forty years it served as the seat of both constitutional bodies. The Bundeshaus was expanded and renovated numerous times until these institutions were transferred to Berlin after the Hauptstadtbeschluss (Capital Resolution) in 1999, nine years after the German reunification.

The parliamentary chamber then became the "Internationale Kongresszentrum Bundeshaus Bonn", now known as the "World Conference Center Bonn", in which national and international conferences take place. The southern part of the building is to become the headquarters of the Climate Secretariat of the United Nations as part of the "UN-Campus", including the former Abgeordnetenhochhaus and the office block known as "Langer Eugen" (Tall Eugene, nickname of Eugen Gerstenmaier, former President of the Bundestag).

The Haus der Geschichte provides the opportunity to books guidances and to visit the historical place of the former Bundesrat.


Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium is a gymnasium in Stuttgart established in 1686.

Erich Köhler

Erich Köhler (June 27, 1892 – October 23, 1958) was a German politician. He was the 1st President of the Bundestag from 7 September 1949 to 18 October 1950.

Köhler co-founded the Christian Democratic Union (Germany) in 1945. He was elected as a member of the first German Bundestag for Wiesbaden's constituency in 1949.


Gerstenmaier is a German surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Eugen Gerstenmaier (1906–1986), German Evangelical theologian, resistance fighter and politician

William H. Gerstenmaier (born 1954), Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations for NASA

Helene Wessel

Helene Wessel (6 July 1898 - 13 October 1969) was a German politician. From October 1949 to January 1952 she was chairwoman of the Centre Party and a founding member of the All-German People's Party, which eventually joined the SPD. She was elected to the Parlamentarischer Rat, the West German constitutional convention.

Kai-Uwe von Hassel

Kai-Uwe von Hassel (21 April 1913 – 8 May 1997) was a German politician from Schleswig-Holstein associated with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He served as Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein from 1954 to 1963, as Federal Minister of Defence from 1963 to 1966, and as Federal Minister for Displaced Persons, Refugees and War Victims from 1966 to 1969. From 1969 to 1972 he was the 4th President of the Bundestag.

Karl Carstens

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Langer Eugen

Langer Eugen (English: "Tall Eugene") is an office tower in the Gronau district of Bonn, Germany. It was built between 1966 and 1969. Since 2006 it has housed several United Nations organizations. Until the German Bundestag (parliament) moved to Berlin in 1999, the building was the primarily location for the offices of the members of the Bundestag. After renovations, eleven UN organizations moved into the building and it began serving as the center of the UN Campus, Bonn. Langer Eugen is protected as a landmark or listed building under the North Rhine-Westphalia Monument Protection Law. It is currently the second-tallest building in Bonn and the 43rd tallest building in Germany (excluding non-habitable structures such as radio and observation towers, steeples, and chimneys). When it was built it was briefly the second-tallest building in Germany, behind the Bayer-Hochhaus.

List of German Christian Democratic Union politicians

A list of notable members of the Christian Democratic Union.


Ludwig Schwamb

Ludwig Schwamb (30 July 1890 in Undenheim – 23 January 1945 in Berlin) was a social-democratic jurist and politician who fought against the Nazi dictatorship in Germany as a member of the Kreisau Circle motivated by his Christian beliefs, and as a close colleague of Wilhelm Leuschner, which led to his execution as a resistance fighter.

Ludwig Schwamb came from a family with a rural Rheinhessen character. After his Abitur in Mainz, he studied law in Gießen, where he was a member of a Studentenverbindung. After being established as a lawyer for a short time, he chose a career in the civil service. In 1921, he became a graduate civil servant at the Alzey Finance Office and in 1925 he became a high government adviser in Oppenheim. After the trade unionist Wilhelm Leuschner, who was the same age as Schwamb, had become Hesse's interior minister in 1928, Schwamb's job changed and he became Leuschner's personal consultant, moving to Darmstadt, where he worked closely with Leuschner's press consultant, Carlo Mierendorff, who later became a Member of the Reichstag. Schwamb rose quickly to the Council of Ministers and the Council of State, but in 1933, after Hitler and the Nazis had seized power, he was removed from his position, as were many others whose political beliefs were at odds with the Party's goals

Thereafter, he was being watched by the police. He tried to no avail to build a law practice in Mainz, and in the end, he moved to Berlin where he worked as a syndic for the Tack shoe factory. By and by, after Leuschner, Mierendorff, and other leading social democrats were released from "protective custody" and concentration camps, Schwamb's flat slowly evolved into a conspiratorial meeting place for resistance fighters. Among these were also Julius Leber, who was working in Berlin as a coal dealer, the journalist Emil Henk (1883-1969) from the Heidelberg-Mannheim area, the co-founder of the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold and off-and-on press consultant in the Reich Interior Ministry Theodor Haubach, and also, after his release from Dachau concentration camp as of 1940 the later Rhineland-Palatinate Interior and Social Minister Jakob Steffan (1888-1957).

Like Leuschner and Mierendorff, Schwamb was also a member of the Kreisau Circle as of 1940, a resistance group that met on Helmuth James Graf von Moltke's estate in Lower Silesia, to which also belonged Peter Graf Yorck von Wartenburg (1904-1944) and Adam von Trott zu Solz, along with progressive educator and social democrat Adolf Reichwein from Bad Ems, the Jesuit priest Alfred Delp who grew up in Lampertheim in southern Hesse, and others influenced mainly by a Christian desire for reform. These included Schleswig-Holstein's later minister-president Theodor Steltzer, the later Speaker of the Bundestag Eugen Gerstenmaier, and the later Federal Minister for Displaced Persons, Refugees, and War Injured Hans Lukaschek.

There were also contacts with other important opponents of the Nazi régime.

While Wilhelm Leuschner, out of all the 20 July Plotters, was foreseen as the future Reich Interior Minister, Ludwig Schwamb, as the "political commissioner" of Defence District XII (Wiesbaden) in the area between Kassel and Heidelberg, was to coördinate the opposition forces, mobilize the civilian resistance groups, help prepare a general strike, safeguard the coördination with the resistance's military wing in this region whose resistance and trade unionist network was particularly widespread, and in the Hesse-Rhineland-Palatinate area, prepare a future democratic and social order.

Ludwig Schwamb was arrested on 23 July 1944 – three days after the failed assassination plot at the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia – in Frankfurt am Main, and after nearly six months in the Lehrter Straße Gestapo prison in Berlin, he was sentenced on 13 January 1945 to death at the Volksgerichtshof under Hitler's "blood judge" Roland Freisler. On 23 January 1945, Ludwig Schwamb was hanged along with nine other plotters at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

On 31 January 1945, Ludwig Schwamb's wife Elisabeth received news – without formality or proper form of address – of the death sentence and a notification about the execution which had been carried out. The message included the warning: "The publication of a death notice is not allowed." So there is no grave, only a memorial stone at the family plot, as well as various streets, squares and schools in Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate which recall Ludwig Schwamb's life and works.

Norbert Lammert

Norbert Lammert (born 16 November 1948) is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He served as the 12th President of the Bundestag from 2005 to 2017.

President of the Bundestag

The President of the Bundestag (German: Präsident des Deutschen Bundestages or Bundestagspräsident) presides over the sessions of the Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany, with functions similar to that of a speaker in other countries. In the German order of precedence, his office is ranked second after the President and before the Chancellor. The 13th and current President of the Bundestag is Wolfgang Schäuble, since October 24, 2017.

Presidium of the Bundestag

The Presidium of the Bundestag is responsible for the routine administration of the Bundestag, including its clerical and research activities. The presidium consists of the President of the Bundestag and a variable number of Vice Presidents, currently six.

The president is elected by all members of the Bundestag during its first meeting; he almost always comes from the largest fraction in the Bundestag (tradition has made this a sort of an unwritten law). His administration ends with the end of the legislature, but he can be re-elected, as long as he is re-elected to the Bundestag.

In 1994 it was decided that every faction in the Bundestag should be represented by a Vice President.

Rainer Barzel

Rainer Candidus Barzel (20 June 1924 – 26 August 2006) was a German politician of the CDU. He served as the 8th President of the Bundestag from 1983 to 1984.

Richard Stücklen

Richard Stücklen (20 August 1916 – 2 May 2002) was German politician of the CSU. He had previously been a member of the NSDAP (1939–1945). From 1957 to 1966, he served as Federal Minister for Post and Communication. A member of the German parliament for more than 40 years, he served as the 7th President of the Bundestag from 1979 to 1983.

University of Rostock

The University of Rostock (Rostock University, German: Universität Rostock) is a public university located in Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. Founded in 1419, it is the third-oldest university in Germany. It is the oldest and largest university in continental northern Europe and the Baltic Sea area, and 8th oldest in Central Europe. It was the 5th university established in the Holy Roman Empire.

The university has been associated with five Nobel laureates. Famous alumni include Nobel laureates: Albrecht Kossel, Karl von Frisch, and Otto Stern; theoretical physicists: Pascual Jordan and Walter H. Schottky. It is a member of the European University Association. The language of instruction is usually German, but English for postgraduate studies.

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