Hans-Dietrich Genscher

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Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (GDR) (1946-52)

Hans-Dietrich Genscher (born 21 March 1927) is a German politician of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). He served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany from 1974 to 1982 and, after a two-week pause, from 1982 to 1992, making him Germany's longest serving Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor. In 1991, he was Chairman of the OSCE.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Genscher was born at Reideburg (Province of Saxony), now a part of Halle, in what later became East Germany. He was drafted to serve as a member of the Air Force Support Personnel (Luftwaffenhelfer) at the age of 16. In 1945 he became a member of the Nazi Party. According to Genscher's statements, this happened through a collective application in his Wehrmacht unit and against his own intentions.

Genscher fought as a young man in the Wehrmacht at the end of the Second World War. In 1945, Genscher was a young soldier in General Walther Wenck's 12th Army. Genscher briefly became an American and British prisoner of war. After World War II, he studied law and economics at the universities of Halle and Leipzig (1946-1949) and joined the East German Liberal Democratic Party (LDPD) in 1946.

Political career

In 1952, Genscher fled to West Germany, where he joined the Free Democratic Party (FDP). He passed his second state examination in law in Hamburg in 1954 and became a solicitor in Bremen.

In 1965 Genscher was elected on the North Rhine-Westphalian FDP list to the West German parliament and remained a member of parliament until his retirement in 1998. After serving in several party offices, he was appointed Minister of the Interior by Chancellor Willy Brandt, whose Social Democratic Party was in coalition with the FDP, in 1969; in 1974, he became foreign minister and Vice Chancellor.

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