Fritz Schenk

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Fritz Schenk (born March 10, 1930 in Helbra near Lutherstadt Eisleben ; † May 4, 2006 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German publicist , journalist and radio presenter . Schenk became known to a broader public in Germany primarily as a long-time co-moderator of the ZDF magazine .


Schenk grew up as a child of a politically active, traditionally social democratic family in his native Helbra. During the Nazi era , some family members were victims of state repression and persecution.

Schenk's father was hydraulic engineering - engineering . In the GDR he worked for several years as the head of a waterworks in the Vorharz region. After Schenk fled to the West, his father was relieved of this post and died of a heart attack on November 10, 1962 after being interrogated by the Ministry of State Security . Schenk accused “the communists ” all his life of killing his father while the Nazis only treated him inhumanely.

Since 1951 Schenk was married to his wife Rosemarie (née Müller). The three sons Steffen (* 1952), Alexander (* 1954) and Patrick (* 1968) emerged from the marriage.

GDR economic functionary and escape to the Federal Republic

After the Second World War , Schenk joined the SPD . After the forced unification of the SPD and KPD to form the SED , he became a member of the SED .

After finishing high school , Schenk began an apprenticeship as a typesetter and book printer , which he successfully completed in 1949. He later graduated from the School of Economics . After completing his apprenticeship, Schenk worked in the graphics industry in the GDR. By 1951 he was promoted to operations assistant and finally to operations manager of the printing house in Meißen .

Since 1952 Schenk was an employee in the State Planning Commission of the GDR. There he rose in the same year to office manager Bruno Leuschner , the chairman of the planning committee. In 1957, Schenk came under suspicion of espionage activities . He was arrested by the Ministry for State Security (MfS) and taken into custody . However, after Schenk had signed a declaration of commitment to cooperate with the State Security, he was released. Immediately after his release from prison, he fled to West Berlin at the end of 1957 . From there he traveled on to the Federal Republic with the help of the East Office of the SPD .

Journalistic career

In West Germany , Schenk initially worked as a freelance journalist and television author. From 1960 he belonged again to the SPD. Schenk decided against a short-term candidate for the German Bundestag for professional reasons. From 1962 he worked on the research advisory board for questions relating to the reunification of the federal government. From 1969 to 1971 he worked as a government director and department head at the All-German Institute in Bonn . In 1972 Schenk left the SPD out of criticism of Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik .

From September 1971 Schenk worked for the ZDF. Under the chief moderator Gerhard Löwenthal , he was deputy director and co-moderator of the ZDF magazine , which was heavily criticized in the 1970s and 1980s for its conservative political reporting. 1974/75 Schenk was briefly a member of the conservative Bund Free Germany . There he was press spokesman . After Gerhard Löwenthal retired in 1987, Schenk was his successor as editor-in-chief of the ZDF magazine . However, the show was replaced by the new Studio 1 magazine in April 1988 . At the same time, Schenk rose to the position of chief of duty within the ZDF editor-in-chief .

In 1993 Schenk retired from ZDF . However, he continued his journalistic and journalistic work in retirement. Schenk published numerous articles and opinion pieces in various magazines and newspapers. Due to his previous function in the GDR, he was also a sought-after speaker as a contemporary witness . Critics point out that Schenk also published in media that some political scientists and constitutional protectors attribute to the New Right . Since December 2004, Schenk has been a regular columnist for the right-wing conservative weekly newspaper Junge Freiheit . In the “Die Woche” section he commented on current political developments in Germany.

“Critical Solidarity” with Martin Hohmann

Schenk's involvement in the Hohmann affair attracted more attention . In October 2003, as sparked anti-Semitic criticized speech of the CDU -Bundestagsabgeordneten Martin Hohmann a scandal out. Hohmann had to face a faction and party exclusion process. Schenk, who had been a member of the CDU since 1999, then initiated the appeal “Critical Solidarity with Martin Hohmann” with others in November 2003 . The signatories of the appeal stated that they considered Hohmann's speech to be controversial and partly questionable, but not anti-Semitic. They called for the politician to remain in the parliamentary group and party. In total, more than 10,200 people signed the appeal. A book (Universitas Verlag) was also published in the context.

On July 22, 2005, Schenk retired as a spokesman as well as an employee of the "Critical Solidarity with Martin Hohmann" initiative. As a reason, he cited doubts about the possible success of Hohmann's lawsuit against the exclusion from the party. He had previously announced that he would run as an independent direct candidate in his previous constituency in the 2005 Bundestag election. In a press release, Schenk accused Hohmann of having made his decision to run against the candidate nominated by the CDU for the Fulda constituency as an independent candidate, even outside the CDU and even against it.


  • Magic of the planned economy . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne a. a. 1960
  • In the anteroom of the dictatorship. 12 years Pankow . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne a. a. 1962
  • The red economic miracle. The centrally planned economy as a means of power in SED politics . Seewald, Stuttgart-Degerloch 1969 ( Zeitpolitische Schriftenreihe . Volume 3rd series of the Studiengesellschaft für Zeitprobleme e.V.)
  • Recognition - yes or no? Viewpoints of a committed democrat on the question of Germany . New press, Coburg 1969
  • Communist declarations of principle. 1957-1971 . Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1972, ISBN 3-8046-8447-5
  • My double fatherland. Experiences and knowledge of a born social democrat . revised and expanded new edition. Naumann, Würzburg 1989, ISBN 3-88567-057-7
  • The Hohmann case ... and no end. With the text of the "special vote" of the Federal Party Court of the CDU . 2nd, expanded and revised new edition. Universitas, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-8004-1466-X


  • Jakob Kaiser Prize (1968), television prize from the Federal Ministry for all-German issues

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Fritz Schenk: Letter to Angela Merkel dated November 12, 2003, printed in: Schenk, Der Fall Hohmann, 2005, p. 110.
  2. a b Fritz Schenk in the Munzinger Archive , accessed on April 27, 2006 ( beginning of the article freely available)
  3. ^ Jochen Maes: Bund Free Germany. A reservoir for a new right-wing party. Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal o. J. (1974), p. 27
  4. website of the initiative
  5. ^ To Fritz Schenk in the context of the initiative
  6. Book Fritz Schenk "The Hohmann Case ... and No End"
  7. ^ Press release from Fritz Schenk on July 22, 2005 , April 27, 2006