Walter Scheel: President of Germany (1974-1979) (1919 - 2016) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Walter Scheel
President of Germany

Walter Scheel

Walter Scheel
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro President of Germany
Was Politician Military personnel
From Germany
Field Military Politics
Gender male
Birth 8 July 1919, Solingen
Death 24 August 2016, Bad Krozingen (aged 97 years)
Star sign Cancer
Spouse: Mildred Scheel
Walter Scheel
The details (from wikipedia)


Walter Scheel (German pronunciation: [ˈvaltɐ ˈʃeːl]; 8 July 1919 – 24 August 2016) was a German politician. A member of the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP), he first served in government as Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development from 1961-66. He led the FDP from 1968-74.
During the Chancellorship of Willy Brandt, Scheel was Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor. Scheel became acting Chancellor of West Germany from 7-16 May 1974 following Brandt's resignation after the Guillaume Affair. He was elected shortly after as President of West Germany, remaining in the role until 1979. Scheel was a member of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

Early life

Scheel was born in Solingen (now in North Rhine-Westphalia). He completed his abitur at the Reformrealgymnsasium Schwertstraße.

Scheel became a member of the Nazi Party in 1942. During World War II, he served in the Luftwaffe during the last years of the war as a radar operator on a Bf 110 night fighter.

Political career

When his Free Democratic Party reentered government in a coalition with Konrad Adenauer's Christian Democratic Union in 1961, Scheel was appointed federal minister of economic cooperation and development. He continued in that office under Chancellor Ludwig Erhard but brought about the downfall of the latter in late 1966 by resigning.

A Christian Democratic/Social Democratic Grand Coalition followed. During this time, in 1968, Scheel took over the party presidency from right wing liberal Erich Mende. According to one study, the election of Walter Scheel to the FDP leadership in 1968 “represented a turn to the left and the Free Democrats then indicated their wooing of the SPD by voting for the successful Social Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the Republic, Gustav Heinemann, in 1969.”

In 1969, he led his party to form a new coalition with the Social Democrats. Under Chancellor Willy Brandt, Scheel became Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor. Under their leadership, West Germany pursued a course of rapprochement and détente with the Soviet block and officially recognized the existence of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). This policy caused a massive public debate, with various Free and Social Democrats switching sides to the opposition. Though an attempt to oust Brandt failed, the coalition had lost its slender majority. The parliamentary stalemate was ended by the dissolution of parliament and early elections in 1972, which brought great gains to the Social Democrats and enabled the coalition to continue. Henry Kissinger believed he was "an idiot" and a "bad" foreign minister.

On 7 May 1974, Brandt resigned as Chancellor after one of his aides, Günter Guillaume, was arrested as a spy for the East German state. Though this had been internally suspected since 1973, Brandt accepted responsibility and resigned. Scheel, as acting chancellor, chaired the government meetings for a little over a week, until Helmut Schmidt was elected. Hans Dietrich Genscher became Scheel's successor as party chairman and as minister.

Scheel was elected President of West Germany, a week after relinquishing his other government roles. He held the office from July 1974 until June 1979. At the funeral of Hanns Martin Schleyer in October 1977, Scheel gave a speech entitled shame. After the federal presidency, Scheel was Chairman of the Bilderberg Conference as well as President of the European Movement in Germany from 1980-85. From 1980-89 he was also President of the German section of the Union of European Federalists (UEF). He was named honorary chairman of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in 1991.


Scheel died on 24 August 2016, at age 97, following a long illness.


  • with Karl-Hermann Flach and Werner Maihofer: Die Freiburger Thesen der Liberalen. Rowohlt, Hamburg 1972, ISBN 3-499-11545-X.
  • Die Zukunft der Freiheit – Vom Denken und Handeln in unserer Demokratie. Econ, 1979.
  • Wen schmerzt noch Deutschlands Teilung? 2 Reden zum 17. Juni, Rowohlt, Reinbek 1986, ISBN 3-499-18346-3.
  • with Otto Graf Lambsdorff: Freiheit in Verantwortung, Deutscher Liberalismus seit 1945. Bleicher, 1988, ISBN 3-88350-047-X.
  • with Jürgen Engert: Erinnerungen und Einsichten. Hohenheim-Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-89850-115-9.
  • with Tobias Thalhammer: Gemeinsam sind wir stärker – Zwölf erfreuliche Geschichten über Jung und Alt. Allpart Media, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86214-011-4.


  • Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Hrsg.): Heiterkeit und Härte: Walter Scheel in seinen Reden und im Urteil von Zeitgenossen. Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Stuttgart 1984, ISBN 3-421-06218-8.
  • Hans-Roderich Schneider: Präsident des Ausgleichs. Bundespräsident Walter Scheel. Ein liberaler Politiker. Verlag Bonn aktuell, Stuttgart 1975, ISBN 3-87959-045-1.

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