Eberhard Diepgen (born 13 November 1941 in Berlin-Wedding) is a German politician of the CDU.
Diepgen studied law at the Free University of Berlin.
Diepgen was mayor of West Berlin from 1984 to 1989 and a reunited Berlin from 1991 to 2001.
Mayor of West Berlin, 1984-1989
In February 1984, the West Berlin House of Deputies elected Diepgen, who ran unopposed, as the city's new Mayor. He replaced Richard von Weizsäcker, who resigned to take the post of President of West Germany. Under Diepgen’s leadership, the CDU also won the 1985 state elections.
In March 1987, Diepgen visited Washington, D.C. for meetings with President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George H. Bush, and National Security Advisor Frank Carlucci.
Also in March 1987, Diepgen was invited by East German leader Erich Honecker to come to East Berlin to join celebrations marking the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin in the 13th century. Apparently bowing to Soviet pressure, East Germany later canceled its invitation.
In late 1988, Diepgen called a state election on relatively short notice, hoping to capitalize on his personal popularity and to pre-empt an assault on the Christian Democrats over local problems such as a housing shortage and unpopular national policies, including proposed changes in the health service. In January 1989, his center-right government suffered severe losses in a state election that saw an unexpectedly strong showing by a far-right party, which campaigned on an anti-foreigner platform, and a win of the Social Democrats under Walter Momper. Diepgen subsequently resigned from his office and became the leader of the opposition.
Mayor of Berlin, 1990-2001
Diepgen was again elected Mayor in the first state elections of the united Berlin in 1990.
Under Diepgen’s leadership, Berlin was among the states that voted in 1991 to keep the Bundesrat, the upper house of Germany's Parliament, in Bonn, despite the decision to move the Bundestag and most government agencies to Berlin; the Bundesrat eventually also moved to the new capital.
Also in 1991, Diepgen ordered the removal of a 3.5-tonne sculpture of Vladimir Lenin, wanting to rid the city of an icon of a “dictatorship where people were persecuted and murdered.”
In May 1996, Diepgen – together with the Federal Minister of Transport Matthias Wissmann and the Minister-President of Brandenburg Manfred Stolpe – committed to Schönefeld as the site for the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport on 28 May 1996. This so-called consensus decision was later affirmed by the respective state legislatures.
In 1999, news media first reported about a dispute between Diepgen and the U.S. Department of State over American demands for special security treatment for its new Berlin embassy not sought by other countries that had built embassies in the same area, including Britain and France. As a result, the construction of the embassy was delayed over several years by a dispute over how large a buffer zone it requires for security.
Amid the revelations of the CDU donations scandal in early 2000, Diepgen opposed Angela Merkel as new chairwoman of the party.
On July 6, 2000, Diepgen signed a treaty with Matheus Shikongo, the Mayor of Windhoek, on a twin city partnership between the two municipalities.
In September 2000, Diepgen pardoned two former members of the East German Politburo, Günter Schabowski and Günther Kleiber, who were jailed for their role in East Germany's shoot-to-kill policy at the Berlin Wall.
In June 2001, the Social Democrats announced that they were withdrawing from Diepgen’s administration and tabled a motion of no-confidence in Diepgen, accusing him of mismanagement and corruption. Diepgen resigned, and Klaus Wowereit became acting mayor.
Ahead of the 2002 federal elections, Diepgen resigned as chairman of the CDU in Berlin after having failed to secure the top position on the party’s list for the elections. He was succeeded by Joachim Zeller.
Life after politics
Following his resignation in 2001, Diepgen joined the Berlin office of German law firm Thümmel, Schütze & Partner.
In addition, Diepgen has held various paid and unpaid positions, including the following:
- Ernst Reuter Archives, Member of the Board of Trustees
- Evangelical Academy Berlin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
- Gegen Vergessen – Für Demokratie, Deputy Chairman of the Board
- Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Member
- Otto Benecke Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
- Zoological Gardens of Berlin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (since 2010)
Diepgen will be a CDU delegate to the Federal Convention for the purpose of electing the President of Germany in 2017.
In 1986, Diepgen acknowledged accepting 50,000 West German marks, or about $21,000, from real estate investor Kurt Franke without having reported the amount as a party contribution as demanded by law. The Mayor later added that the total might have been 75,000 marks. As part of the bribery allegations, a total of 37 businessmen and politicians were under investigation, and more than 100 offices and homes were searched.
At the funeral of actress Marlene Dietrich in 1992, a simple graveside service at Städtischer Friedhof III, Diepgen was booed by Berliners who had been angered and disappointed by the city's failure to mount a formal tribute.
Diepgen did not attend the inauguration of Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, stating his agenda was too full to make it. He had backed a plan for a far smaller stone memorial inscribed simply with the words Thou Shalt not Kill proposed by theologian Richard Schröder, saying that its precision, dignity and modesty gave it more power than Peter Eisenman's project.
- Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz (1987) mit Stern (1994)
- Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1994)