Historic Figures in Modern German History

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Theodor Blank

Theodor Anton Blank (19 September 1905 – 14 May 1972) was a German politician of the CDU. He was one of the founders of the CDU in 1945.

Blank was born in Elz an der Lahn. He was the third of ten children of a carpenter. His family was Roman Catholic. Blank received an apprenticeship as a carpenter. In 1930–33, he worked as a secretary at the Association of Christian transport- and factory employees of the northern and northwestern Ruhr Area. After he was dismissed in 1933, Blank passed his Abitur in 1936 and studied mathematics at the University of Münster and engineering sciences at the University of Hanover. In 1939, he was conscripted to the Wehrmacht and became a first lieutenant at the end of World War II.

From 1949 to 1972, he was a member of the German Bundestag, in which he served from 1965 to 1969 as deputy chief of CDU/CSU-Bundestagsfraktion.

From 1950 to 1955, he served as Special Representative of the Chancellor, leading the “Amt Blank” (Blank Agency), officially responsible for affairs relating to the Allied occupying troops, but in reality mainly charged by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer with covertly preparing the re-establishment of the German armed forces. In 1954, opponents of the rearmament prevented him from speaking to public assemblies by yelling and shouting, and lightly wounded him in one instance. After the rearmament was official, he served as the first postwar Defence Minister of Germany from 1955 to 1956 and as Minister of Labour and Social Affairs from 1957 to 1965.

Blank died in Bonn.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt (German pronunciation: [ˈhɛlmuːt ˈha͡ɪnʁɪç ˈvaldəmaːɐ ˈʃmɪt]; 23 December 1918 – 10 November 2015) was a German politician and member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), who served as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) from 1974 to 1982.

Before becoming Chancellor, he had served as Minister of Defence (1969–1972) and as Minister of Finance (1972–1974). In the latter role he gained credit for his financial policies. He had also served briefly as Minister of Economics and as acting Foreign Minister. As Chancellor, he focused on international affairs, seeking “political unification of Europe in partnership with the United States”. He was an energetic diplomat who sought European co-operation and international economic co-ordination. He was re-elected chancellor in 1976 and 1980, but his coalition fell apart in 1982 with the switch by his coalition allies, the Free Democratic Party.

He retired from Parliament in 1986, after clashing with the SPD’s left wing, who opposed him on defence and economic issues. In 1986, he was a leading proponent of European monetary union and a European Central Bank.

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