Rainer Barzel

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Rainer Barzel
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F029561-0005, Essen, CDU-Bundestagswahlkongress, Barzel.jpg
Barzel speaking at a 1969 CDU conference
President of the Bundestag
(West Germany)
In office
29 March 1983 – 25 October 1984
Preceded byRichard Stücklen
Succeeded byPhilipp Jenninger
Federal Minister of Intra-German Relations
(West Germany)
In office
4 October 1982 – 29 March 1983
ChancellorHelmut Kohl
Preceded byEgon Franke
Succeeded byHeinrich Windelen
In office
14 December 1962 – 11 October 1963
All-German Affairs
ChancellorKonrad Adenauer
Preceded byErnst Lemmer
Succeeded byErich Mende
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union
(West Germany)
In office
5 October 1971 – 12 June 1973
General SecretaryKurt Biedenkopf
Preceded byKurt Georg Kiesinger
Succeeded byHelmut Kohl
Leader of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag
(West Germany)
In office
1 December 1964 – 9 May 1973
First DeputyFranz Josef Strauß
Richard Stücklen
Preceded byHeinrich von Brentano
Succeeded byKarl Carstens
Member of the Bundestag
for North Rhine-Westphalia
In office
4 November 1980 – 18 February 1987
ConstituencyParty-list proportional representation
Member of the Bundestag
for Paderborn – Wiedenbrück
In office
15 October 1957 – 4 November 1980
Preceded byMaria Niggemeyer
Succeeded byHeinrich Pohlmeier
Personal details
Rainer Candidus Barzel

20 June 1924
Braunsberg, East Prussia, Free State of Prussia, Weimar Republic
Died26 August 2006(2006-08-26) (aged 82)
Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Political partyChristian Democratic Union
Spouse(s)Kriemhild (m. 1948 – d. 1980)
Helga (m. 1983 – d. 1995)
Ute (m. 1997 – 2006)
Alma materUniversity of Cologne

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.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Braunsberg, East Prussia (present-day Braniewo, Poland), Barzel served as Chairman of the CDU from 1971 to 1973 and ran as the CDU's candidate for Chancellor of Germany in the 1972 federal elections, losing to Willy Brandt's SPD.

Barzel served as Minister of All-German Affairs (1962–63) under Konrad Adenauer, as Parliamentary group leader of the CDU/CSU (1964–1973), as Minister of Intra-German Relations (1982–1983) in Helmut Kohl's cabinet, and as President of the Bundestag (1983–1984).

The 1972 election is commonly regarded as an indirect referendum on Chancellor Brandt's Ostpolitik (Eastern Policy), which called for normalized relations with East Germany and the Soviet Union, which Barzel vehemently opposed. On 27 April 1972 Barzel and the CDU/CSU called a constructive vote of no confidence against Brandt's government. Had the motion carried, Barzel would have succeeded Brandt as Chancellor of Germany. The implications of this vote were far-reaching. Brandt's initial reaction was that he, along with his policy of Ostpolitik, was finished. Several German trade unions went on strike in anticipation of his loss in the no confidence motion. However, the final tally received 247 votes; 249 were needed to expel Brandt from office. Later, it was found out that two members of Parliament, Julius Steiner [de] (CDU) and Leo Wagner [de] (CSU) had been bribed by the East German Ministry for State Security.[1]

The government, in consideration of the fact that it had lost its parliamentary majority and that parliamentary work was stalled, reacted by calling new elections, which it won decisively. 1972 was the only time before 1998 and after World War II that the SPD outpolled the CDU, and it still represents the SPD's high-water mark as a vote share. That year's elections had the highest turnout ever.

Within the CDU group of the German parliament, Barzel's credibility suffered when it became apparent that he had lied about substantial outside income from work as a lawyer outside parliament.

It was neither the lost no-confidence motion nor the lost parliamentary elections that, on 8 May 1973, eventually prompted Barzel to resign from both the CDU party chair and the leadership of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. It was the refusal by the parliamentary group to support a government bill for the accession of both German states to the United Nations.

He resigned from politics in 1984 after he was accused of being entangled in the Flick scandal, a charge rejected by the Flick inquiry committee and the prosecuting authorities two years later.

Barzel died in Munich, Bavaria, after a long illness, on 26 August 2006, aged 82.


  • Gesichtspunkte eines Deutschen. Düsseldorf, Econ 1968
  • Unterwegs – Woher und wohin? München, Droemer Knaur 1982
  • Im Streit und umstritten. Anmerkungen zu Konrad Adenauer, Ludwig Erhard und den Ostverträgen. Berlin, Ullstein 1986
  • Geschichten aus der Politik. Persönliches aus meinem Archiv. Berlin, Ullstein 1987
  • Die Tür blieb offen – Ostverträge-Misstrauensvotum-Kanzlersturz. Bonn, Bouvier 1998, ISBN 3-416-02836-8
  • Ein gewagtes Leben. Stuttgart, Hohenheim 2001, ISBN 3-89850-041-1


  1. ^ Smyser, W. R. (1999). From Yalta to Berlin. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 266. ISBN 0-312-06605-8.

Further reading[edit]