Kurt Georg Kiesinger

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Kurt Georg Kiesinger (German pronunciation: [ˈkʊʁt ˈɡeːɔʁk ˈkiːzɪŋɐ]; 6 April 1904–9 March 1988) was a conservative German politician and Chancellor of West Germany from 1 December 1966 until 21 October 1969.

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Early career and wartime activities

Born in Ebingen, Kingdom of Württemberg (now Baden-Württemberg), Kiesinger was educated in Berlin and became a lawyer. As a student, he joined the (non-couleur wearing) Roman Catholic corporations Alamannia Tübingen and Askania-Burgundia Berlin. He became a member of the Nazi Party in 1933. From 1940 on, Kiesinger worked at the German foreign ministry's radio propaganda department where he was responsible for that ministry's connection with the propaganda ministry. After the war, he was interned and spent 18 months in the Ludwigsburg camp before being released as a case of mistaken identity.[1] During the controversies of 1966 the magazine Der Spiegel unearthed a Nazi-era protocol of the RSHA which noted that he was hampering anti-Jewish actions in his department.

Post war rise

By the time the first national elections were held in the Federal Republic in 1949, Kiesinger had joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and won a seat in the Bundestag, the West German parliament. In 1951 he became a member of the CDU executive board. During that time, he became known for his rhetorical brilliance, as well as his in-depth knowledge of foreign affairs. However, despite the recognition he enjoyed within the Christian Democrat parliamentary faction, he was passed over during various cabinet reshuffles. Consequently, he decided to switch from federal to state politics: He was appointed Prime Minister (Ministerpräsident) of the state of Baden-Württemberg on 17 December 1958, an office in which he served until 1 December 1966.

Chancellorship and last years

In 1966 following the collapse of the existing CDU/CSU-FDP coalition Kiesinger was elected to replace Ludwig Erhard as Chancellor, heading a new CDU/CSU-SPD alliance. The government formed by Kiesinger remained in power for nearly three years with the SPD leader Willy Brandt as Deputy Federal Chancellor and Foreign Minister. Kiesinger reduced tensions with the Soviet bloc nations establishing diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia but he opposed any major conciliatory moves.

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