Ernst Benda

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Ernst Benda (1973)
Ernst Benda (2008)

Ernst Benda (born January 15, 1925 in Berlin , † March 2, 2009 in Karlsruhe ) was a German lawyer and politician ( CDU ). He was Federal Minister of the Interior in 1968/69 and President of the Federal Constitutional Court from 1971 to 1983 .

Life and work

Until 1945

Ernst Benda's grandfather, Hans Benda (1867–1945), was a baptized Jew who was married to a Protestant and was therefore considered a “ privileged Jewduring the Nazi era . After working as a government building officer, participating in World War I ( EK I and II ) and being promoted to senior government building officer and head of military district building directorate III, he became a ministerial advisor in the Reichswehr Ministry in 1926 and retired in February 1933.

Ernst Benda was the son of the engineer Rudolf Benda and his wife Lilly, b. Krasting. After graduating from the Kant-Gymnasium in Berlin-Spandau in 1943, Benda was drafted into the Navy , where he worked as a radio operator in the Schnellbootlehrdivision off Norway until 1945. He finished his service as a corporal .

After 1945

After the end of the war, Benda began his academic training by studying law at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin , where he was a member of the last freely elected student council . In the spring of 1948, Benda was a forced de-registration by the increasingly communist -dominated University earlier by the United States to the University of Wisconsin-Madison joined and then graduated from the newly founded University of Berlin Freie continued. Ernst Benda acted together with Rainer Hildebrandt as the license holder of the Allied Command for the Combat Group against Inhumanity founded in 1948 . He passed the second state examination in 1955 and settled as a lawyer in Berlin in 1956 .

In 1978 he was appointed honorary professor at the University of Trier . After leaving office as President of the Federal Constitutional Court, Benda was appointed full professor at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg in 1984 . He regularly took part in the Bitburg talks on legal policy . Up until old age he spoke out on domestic political debates, for example on the question of so-called rescue torture (“In the fight against terror, the means of the defensive constitutional state are sufficient”).

Benda was President of the German-Israeli Society from 1967 to 1970 and President of the 26th German Evangelical Church Congress from 1993 to 1995 . From 1985 to 1992 he was Chairman of the Berlin Cable Council and from 1992, after its dissolution, until November 2008, President of the Berlin-Brandenburg Media Council .

He was married and had two children.

Political party

In 1946 Benda joined the CDU; from 1952 to 1954 he was chairman of the CDU university group and the Junge Union Berlin. In 1951 he was one of the founders of the Ring of Christian Democratic Students (RCDS), which he chaired together with Fritz Flick from 1951 to 1952 . He was also chairman of the Junge Union in West Berlin from 1952 to 1954 .


Federal party conference in 1971 in Düsseldorf

From 1951 to 1954 Benda was a member of the Berlin district of Spandau , where he headed the CDU parliamentary group, and from December 1954 to 1957 a member of the Berlin House of Representatives . In 1957 he moved to Bonn as a member of the German Bundestag . In the 1965 statute of limitations debate , he made a decisive contribution to ensuring that murders from the Nazi era could be prosecuted beyond that year. From 1965 to April 12, 1967 and from 1969 to November 8, 1971 he was chairman of the working group on general and legal issues of his parliamentary group.

In 1966 he acted as president of the joint committee at the " Fallex 66 " staff exercise and from 1969 he was a member of the G-10 commission under the law on the restriction of the secrecy of letters, mail and telecommunications .

In 1970 he was again a member of the joint committee and the Bundestag ’s committee of representatives for the secret services. After his election as President of the Federal Constitutional Court, he resigned his mandate on December 8, 1971.

Public offices

Ernst Benda (center) at the hearing of the Federal Constitutional Court on the legality of the abortion (1974). In the foreground Horst Ehmke .

In 1967 Benda was appointed Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior and served as Federal Minister of the Interior in the Kurt Georg Kiesinger cabinet from April 2, 1968 until the end of 1969 . During this time he was authorized by the Federal Chancellor, among other things, to order surveillance measures under the law on the restriction of the secrecy of letters, mail and telecommunications and was therefore exposed to violent attacks from the extra-parliamentary opposition . He banned the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood on June 24, 1968 . As Minister of the Interior, Benda was involved in the preparation of the German emergency laws, even if he himself was skeptical as to whether a constitutional state could react in the event of a real emergency .

On December 8, 1971, Benda was appointed President of the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe as the successor to Gebhard Müller . As chairman of the First Senate, he participated in the judgments on the criminal liability of abortion (1 BvF 1/74 and others) of February 25, 1975 and that on the Schleyer kidnapping (1 BvQ 5/77) of October 16, 1977. The census ruling of December 15, 1983, which first developed the right to informational self-determination , also fell during his term of office . On December 20, 1983, he retired. His successor was the previous Vice President Wolfgang Zeidler .


Orders and decorations

Other honors


  • The Emergency Constitution , Munich / Vienna 1966.
  • Constitutional problems of the grand coalition. In: The Grand Coalition 1966–1969. A critical inventory , Freudenstadt 1969, pages 162-168.
  • Questions of the future of parliamentary democracy. In: ZParl , vol. 1978, issue 4, pages 510-521.
  • Opinion polling and representative democracy. In: Horst Baier , Mathias Kepplinger , Kurt Reumann : Public opinion and social change , Opladen 1981, pages 96-104.
  • The relationship between parliament and the Federal Constitutional Court. In: Uwe Thaysen (inter alia): US Congress and German Bundestag , Opladen 1988, pages 217–232.


  • Eckart Klein : Fundamental rights, social order and constitutional jurisdiction. Festschrift for Ernst Benda on his 70th birthday , Heidelberg 1995.
  • Rolf Lamprecht : I'm going to Karlsruhe . A history of the Federal Constitutional Court. 1st edition. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt / Spiegel-Verlag, Munich / Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-421-04515-7 , p. 119-176 .
  • Werner Breunig, Siegfried Heimann , Andreas Herbst : Biographical Handbook of Berlin City Councilors and Members of Parliament 1946–1963 (=  series of publications by the Berlin State Archives . Volume 14 ). Landesarchiv Berlin , Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-9803303-4-3 , p. 68 (331 pages).

Web links

Commons : Ernst Benda  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Information from Rudolf Bendas in a letter to Ernst Hamburger dated December 28, 1972. Ernst Hamburger Collection 1913-1980 n 343
  2. Carrier of Justice . In: The time . November 21, 2012, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed November 18, 2017]).
  3. What did the Germans know about the extermination of the Jews? In: . 2010, ISSN  0174-4917 ( [accessed on November 18, 2017]).
  4. ^ Constitutional Court: Sold below value . In: Der Spiegel . tape 48 , November 22, 1971 ( [accessed November 18, 2017]).
  5. ^ Secret services / Tillich: Later werewolf , Der Spiegel from July 2, 1958 on
  6. Adenauerzeit (part 5): The East in the West , Norbert Frei in: Die Zeit No. 45/2009 (also online)
  7. a b c eloquent and thoughtful - On the death of Ernst Benda , Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of March 3, 2009
  8. He who is strong does not torture , of July 26, 2004
  9. ^ The People's Representation 1946–1972
  10. a b Helmut Kerscher, Formative Personality of the Bonner Republic , Süddeutsche Zeitung Online from March 2, 2009 ( Memento from March 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  11. ^ Ministry of the Interior of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Section 14: Decrees | State law NRW. Retrieved November 18, 2017 .
  12. ^ President of the Federal Constitutional Court a. D. Prof. Dr. Benda passed away. , accessed July 29, 2014