Hans Matthöfer

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Federal Minister Hans Matthöfer at the SPD party conference in Dortmund, 1976
Hans Matthöfer, Federal Council meeting in June 1981

Hans Hermann Matthöfer (born September 25, 1925 in Bochum , † November 14, 2009 in Berlin ) was a German politician ( SPD ). From 1974 to 1978 he was Federal Minister for Research and Technology , from 1978 to 1982 Federal Minister of Finance and in 1982 Federal Minister for Post and Telecommunications .


After visiting the elementary school graduated Matthöfer first an apprenticeship and then took from 1943 to 1945 as a soldier in World War II in part. After the war in 1946 he passed the English interpreter test . In 1948, after passing an admission test, he began studying economics and social sciences in Frankfurt am Main and Madison (Wisconsin) , USA , which he completed in 1953 with a degree in economics. During his studies in the USA, his teacher Jack Barbash familiarized him with the ideas and practice of workplace unionism , which he knew how to use in his later work at IG Metall . Until 1957 he worked in the economics department of the IG Metall board. He then worked as a union attaché for the Organization for European Economic Cooperation ( OEEC ) in Washington, DC and Paris until 1961 .

From October 1960 to August 1972 he headed the education department on the IG Metall board. There he was involved in the development and testing of company-related educational work and company-related tariff policy. In the first half of the 1960s, he headed the Ford-Aktion , a key action carried out in cooperation with Frankfurt industrial sociologists to improve the trade union presence in the car company, which was not bound by collective bargaining at the time and was largely union-free. From 1987 to 1997 he was chairman of the board of the trade union asset holding BGAG and in this function from 1986 to 1997 he was also chairman of the supervisory board of ING-DiBa , which operates as a bank for savings investments and asset formation AG (BSV) and from 1994 as a general German direct bank im Was owned by the union holding company.

Hans Matthöfer died on November 14th, 2009 at the age of 84 after a serious illness. He was born with Traute Matthöfer. Mecklenburg (1923–2008) married. The marriage resulted in two children.

Political activities

Matthöfer had been a member of the SPD since 1950. From 1973 to 1984 he was a member of the SPD party executive. From 1985 to 1987 he was federal treasurer of the SPD. From 1961 to 1987 he was a member of the German Bundestag . After the federal election in 1972 he was appointed Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation in the Federal Government led by Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt . After the resignation of Willy Brandt, he took over the management of the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology in the federal government headed by Helmut Schmidt . When the cabinet was reshuffled in the spring of 1978, Matthöfer was appointed Federal Minister of Finance.

In the spring of 1982, Matthöfer resigned his office and was instead appointed Federal Minister for Post and Telecommunications on April 28, 1982 following a cabinet reshuffle. With the election of Helmut Kohl as Federal Chancellor, Matthöfer resigned from the Federal Government on October 1, 1982.


As a citizen, trade unionist and politician, Matthöfer has been committed to social democracy in Spain since 1953. In 1970 he founded the monthly magazine Exprès Espanol in Frankfurt am Main , with a circulation of 180,000 copies aimed at Spaniards living in the Federal Republic of Germany. After the introduction of freedom of the press in Spain, the newspaper, financed by Matthöfer and his wife Traute, ceased its publication.

Both as Parliamentary State Secretary in the BMZ and as Minister of Research and Finance, Matthöfer also made outstanding contributions to good relations with democratic Latin America. The research minister caused a great stir when he described the Chilean military junta as a “gang of murderers” in 1975, which is why the CDU / CSU demanded his dismissal.

After the unrest on the occasion of the occupation of the nuclear power plant site near Wyhl im Breisgau from February 18, 1975, he made the offer of a "trusting dialogue with the responsible citizen" on March 6 and specifically agreed in response to the unlimited hunger strike of the Tübingen teacher Hartmut Gründler entered the so-called Citizens' Dialogue on Nuclear Energy in July 1975 with around ten public seminar discussions, in the expectation of being able to dispel concerns about the use of nuclear energy. The start was a three-hour long conversation between him and 21 speakers from citizens' initiatives on July 22, 1975 in Bonn. In June 1976, from the point of view of the already skeptical opponents of the nuclear power plant, the citizens 'dialogue proved to be a failure when he wrote to Hartmut Gründler, admitting that the citizens' dialogue was not binding.

In addition to the energy policy discussion, to which Matthöfer contributed with the discussion guide for nuclear energy , the model project Research on the Humanization of Working Life , for which he installed a project sponsor under Willi Pöhler , bore his signature. As finance minister, Matthöfer moved away from left-wing positions. During his tenure from 1978 onwards, he tried to reduce the national debt without endangering economic growth. He fought with his own parliamentary group and warned against combating growing unemployment through higher government spending. With the proposal to increase the mineral oil tax, he failed due to resistance from the SPD.

Matthöfer was able to completely refute the suspicion of accepting benefits that arose in the Flick affair .

On February 19, 1982 he caused a sensation in the television program 3 after 9 , in which, among other things, good behavior was discussed with Fritz Teufel . In conversation with the moderator, Teufel drew a water pistol and splashed the minister with blue ink. Matthöfer responded by pouring a glass of red wine on his shirt. After he realized that it was magic ink, the stains of which had disappeared again, he apologized for this revenge.

In 1986, at the request of the DGB, Matthöfer took over the chairmanship of the trade union holding BGAG, which had been shaken by the scandal surrounding Neue Heimat and which he successfully managed until he retired in 1997. He then managed the structural reforms desired by the unions by selling dispensable parts of the company as well as the so-called Coop scandal , which he had taken over from his predecessors. Matthöfer achieved lasting success with the enforcement of the restitution claims of the trade unions on the union housing property of the Weimar period, which had been expropriated again in the GDR.

In spring 2011 it became known through a WDR documentary that Matthöfer and the Federal Ministry of Finance were said to have covered the petrol station operator Erhard Goldbach for years and protected it from persecution by the tax authorities; Goldbach had evaded taxes totaling around 345 million DM.



  • Strikes and strike-like forms of the struggle of workers in capitalism , in: Dieter Schneider (Ed.), On the theory and practice of the strike, Frankfurt / Main 1971, pp. 155–209.
  • Humanization of work and productivity in industrial society . European Publishing House, Cologne 1977.
  • From the coal pot to the Bundestag: my years from 1925 to 1961 . Kronberg im Taunus 2006.
  • Agenda 2000 - Proposals for Economic and Social Policy , Bonn 1983.

Hans Matthöfer Prize for business journalism

The Hans-und-Traute-Matthöfer-Stiftung within the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has been awarding a Hans-Matthöfer-Preis for business journalism since 2015.

Prize winners:


  • Werner Abelshauser : After the economic miracle. The trade unionist, politician and entrepreneur Hans Matthöfer . JHWDietz Nachf., Bonn 2009, ISBN 978-3-8012-4171-1 .
  • Helmut Schmidt; Walter Hesselbach (ed.): Fighters without pathos: Festschrift for Hans Matthöfer . Bonn 1985.
  • Klaus Peter Wittemann: Ford action. On the relationship between industrial sociology and IG Metall in the sixties . Schüren, Marburg 1994.
  • Christoph Weber (Red.): "It happened in North Rhine-Westphalia - The great petrol fraud", report in WDR, April 15, 2011 8:15 pm; 45 minutes.

Web links

Commons : Hans Matthöfer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Fritz Teufel at 3nach9 (Radio Bremen). Radio Bremen (YouTube video), February 19, 1986, accessed on October 24, 2019 .
  2. Christoph Weber (Red.): It happened in NRW - The great petrol fraud, from minute 40.
  3. Announcement of awards of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In: Federal Gazette . Vol. 30, No. 172, September 13, 1978.
  4. Hans Matthöfer Prize for Business Journalism | Dortmund foundation portal. Accessed July 30, 2020 .
  5. Awarded the Hans Matthöfer Prize. Accessed July 30, 2020 .