Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt

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Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt (right) with the Egyptian Minister of Social Affairs Hikmat Abu Zayd (1963)

Emma Sophie Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt (born January 7, 1901 in Frankfurt am Main ; † October 29, 1986 there ) was a German politician ( CDU ). She was Federal Minister of Health from 1961 to 1966, making her the first woman to hold the post of German Federal Minister .

education and profession

Elisabeth Ebonlocke studied after high school in 1920 at the Victoria School, today Bettinaschule , jurisprudence in Frankfurt. In 1930 she passed the second state examination in law . Also in 1930 the doctorate to Dr. jur. with the work foreign currency clauses according to German law of obligations . Until 1932 she worked as a consultant at a legal protection office for women in Frankfurt am Main. She then worked as a commissioned judge in Dortmund and Frankfurt am Main. She was released in March 1933 because, following a decree by the National Socialist Minister of Justice, women were no longer allowed to hold judges.

She then worked briefly at the German Pensioners' Association in Berlin and finally from 1935 as a legal assistant at the office of the Evangelical Church in Berlin. In 1947 she returned to Frankfurt am Main and worked in the external office of the Evangelical Church until 1953, most recently as senior church councilor and manager of Evangelical women's work.

Grave in the main cemetery in Frankfurt

Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt was the first woman to be awarded the Grand Cross of the Federal Cross of Merit on December 10, 1965 . From 1970 to 1972 she was first chairwoman of the German Women's Council. She was buried in the Frankfurt main cemetery. Her grave in Gewann II is marked as an honor grave .


Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt was the daughter of Wilhelm Schwarzhaupt (1871–1961), who was a member of the Prussian state parliament for the DVP from 1921 to 1933 . Her mother came from a wealthy merchant family . Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt was engaged to a Jewish doctor who first emigrated to Switzerland and then to America because of the professional ban . Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt did not want to follow her fiancé into exile as long as she could not find her own job there. Since she could not find a job as a lawyer or as a journalist, she stayed in Germany and broke off the engagement.


Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt was politicized by reading " Mein Kampf " by Adolf Hitler and " Mythos of the 20th Century " by Alfred Rosenberg . Shocked by the image of women propagated by the National Socialists, she began to publicly warn against National Socialism. She published several writings on the subject, including a. "The position of women in National Socialism" from 1932.

In the Weimar Republic , Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt supported the DVP , of which her father was a member. Since 1953 she belonged to the CDU.

From 1953 to 1969 she was a member of the German Bundestag . From 1957 to 1961 she was deputy chairwoman of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group . In 1957 she was the directly elected MP in the Wiesbaden constituency .

Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt was - unlike the majority, including the women in her party - a vehement opponent of the casting vote in marriage , with whom the man could have asserted his point of view in disputes in all matters affecting the spouses. Together with Margot Kalinke ( DP ), she voted in the legal committee of the Bundestag for the amendment proposed by the FDP parliamentary group and thus caused the government parliamentary groups CDU / CSU, GB / BHE and DP to be defeated. The “ Law on Equality between Men and Women in the Field of Civil Law ” was passed on June 18, 1957 without the casting vote clause.

After the general election in 1961 , Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt was appointed Federal Minister for Health Care on November 14, 1961 in the federal government led by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer . Her appointment was carried out against the resistance of Konrad Adenauer by the CDU women, led by Helene Weber and Aenne Brauksiepe . The women were not ready to accept another cabinet without female participation and made a "sit-in" in front of the hall in which the coalition negotiations between CDU and FDP were taking place. Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt also held the position she had won under Federal Chancellor Ludwig Erhard . During her tenure, Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt introduced a number of important innovations, such as the best-before date and labeling of foreign substances in food. Environmental issues were also part of the newly founded ministry and so the first environmental protection ordinance to keep the water and air clean were issued under Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt. The thalidomide scandal fell right at the beginning of her term of office, as a result of which she implemented a reform of the Medicines Act, which now meant that drugs had to be tested for prenatal damage from taking the drug before they were marketed.

On November 30, 1966, her time as health minister ended due to the change of coalition and chancellor. The coalition between CDU and FDP under Ludwig Erhard had failed and instead a new coalition between CDU and SPD under Kurt Georg Kiesinger was formed . Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt was ready to give up her office, which was a good thing, since the SPD wanted Käte Strobel in the cabinet and two ministers were not considered defensible.

After her return to the Bundestag, she resolutely campaigned for a reform of the illegitimate law with which the position of illegitimate children was largely adapted to that of legitimate children.

In 1969, Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt did not run again in the Bundestag election , as she had announced in 1965. She left the Bundestag at the end of the legislative period and was still active in the pre-political area for a few years, for example in the German Women's Council , the Evangelical Women's Association , the German Association of Women Academics and the German Association of Women Lawyers .


In 1988 the city of Frankfurt am Main named a green area in "Elisabeth-Schwarzhaupt-Anlage" and the city of Mainz named a street in Mainz-Finthen as "Elisabeth-Schwarzhaupt-Straße" as a tribute and memory . In Berlin the "Elisabeth-Schwarzhaupt-Platz" is named after her. In the Röttgen district of Bonn there has been an "Elisabeth-Schwarzhaupt-Straße" since 2013.


  • The woman in government and opposition parties , in: Neue Evangelische Frauenzeitung , 1965, issue 2, pages 34–38.
  • Notes and memories , in: Members of the German Bundestag. Records and Recollections , Volume 2, Boppard am Rhein, 1983, pages 235-283.


Web links

Commons : Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt - a militant politician. Retrieved June 19, 2018 .
  2. "Fighter for Equal Rights" , on www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de, accessed on March 30, 2020.
  3. a b c d e f Elisabeth Schwarzhaupt. January 6, 1901, Retrieved October 7, 2019 .
  4. ^ German biography: Schwarzhaupt, Elisabeth - German biography. Retrieved October 7, 2019 .
  5. ^ Elisabeth-Schwarzhaupt-Strasse in the Bonn street cadastre