Horst Koehler

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Horst Köhler, 2010
Signature of Horst Köhler

Horst Köhler (born  February 22, 1943 in Heidenstein , Generalgouvernement , today Skierbieszów , Poland ) is a German politician ( CDU ) and economist . From July 1, 2004 until his resignation on May 31, 2010, he was the ninth Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany . From 2000 to 2004 he was Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).



Horst Köhler was born in Skierbieszów, Poland. The place, which today belongs to the Lublin Voivodeship , was then in the General Government for the occupied Polish territories . After the German occupation in 1939, the place Skierbieszów was renamed "Heidenstein". Köhler was the seventh of eight children to a Bessarabian German farming family. His parents, Eduard Köhler and Elisabeth Köhler geb. Bernhard, originally lived in Northern Bessarabia in Romania . There they lived in Ryschkanowka (Romanian Rîșcani ), about thirty kilometers northwest of Belz (Bălți) , in today's Moldova . The village was co-founded by German settlers in 1865 and in 1940 had around four hundred inhabitants of German descent.

In the summer of 1940, as a result of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, the Romanian province of Bessarabia fell to the Soviet Union through military occupation . In the autumn of the same year, the family joined other " ethnic Germans " in the resettlement from Bessarabia under the motto Heim ins Reich . Like other resettlers, the Köhler family spent their time in the German Reich in a camp for almost two years. In August 1942, settled them as independent farmers on a farm in Heidenstein in Kreishauptmannschaft Zamość in the district of Lublin on after the SS previously resident in Polish residents as part of the " Action Zamość had driven" to provide room for German settlers to create. In the following year 1943 Horst Köhler was born.

Early youth

In 1944, the mother was taken to a reception camp ( Łódź ) in the Warthegau with Horst, who was just under one year old, and three other siblings . The reason was the increasing partisan attacks in the settlement area around Skierbieszów . Horst Koehler's father remained, like all men working in agriculture , on the assigned farm. The continuation of agriculture and harvesting continued until the arrival of the Red Army in July 1944. During the further advance in January 1945, the family, like millions of other Germans, fled west. At the end of the escape in Zöbigker near Leipzig, his parents tried again to build up a rural existence. When the collectivization of agriculture threatened, the Köhler family decided in 1953 to leave the GDR . This time the escape went via West Berlin to the Federal Republic of Germany. Until 1957, the Köhler family lived in refugee camps , including in the Swabian town of Backnang , where a teacher recommended the refugee child for high school .

Ultimately, Köhler's family found a permanent home in Ludwigsburg . Horst Köhler regards Ludwigsburg as his home, and in 1963 he also graduated from the Mörike grammar school there. In his youth he was a boy scout .

In an interview conducted in December 2007, Horst Köhler stated that he “did not feel like a displaced person ”.


From 1963 to 1965 he did eighteen months of military service in the Herzog-Albrecht-Kaserne in Münsingen and stayed for another six months as a regular with the 302 Panzer Grenadier Battalion in Ellwangen to retire as a lieutenant in the reserve . From 1965 to 1969 Köhler studied economics and political science at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen and graduated in 1969 with a degree in economics . Köhler was a member of the Normannia Tübingen Association , from which he later left. From 1969 to 1976 he was a scientific consultant at the Institute for Applied Economic Research in Tübingen. He received his doctorate there in 1977 under Alfred Eugen Ott with a thesis on the subject of “release of work through technical progress”.

Stations of professional life

From 1976 to 1980 he worked in the policy department of the Federal Ministry of Economics . In 1981 Horst Köhler became a member of the CDU and in the same year moved to the state chancellery of the state government of Schleswig-Holstein under Prime Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg . At his suggestion, Köhler became head of the ministerial office and head of subdivision I A in the Federal Ministry of Finance in 1982. In 1987 he became head of Department I in the Federal Ministry of Finance for fundamental questions of financial policy, financial questions in individual areas and industrial federal assets. From 1989 he was head of Department VII of the Federal Ministry of Finance for Money and Credit.

Horst Köhler and Václav Havel 2000

From 1990 to 1993 Köhler was State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance as successor to Hans Tietmeyer . He was responsible for financial and monetary relationships and thus the main German negotiator in the negotiations on the Maastricht Treaty and partly in those for German reunification . Köhler, who negotiated billions in payments with Russia for the withdrawal of the group of Soviet armed forces in Germany from Germany, also regulated German financial aid for the 1991 Gulf War . H. the payment of approx. DM 12 billion to the USA . As the so-called Sherpa of Chancellor Helmut Kohl and as his personal representative, he prepared the G7 business summits in Houston (1990), London (1991), Munich (1992) and Tokyo (1993). According to Lorenz Maroldt, editor-in-chief of Tagesspiegel , Köhler, in his capacity as State Secretary, played a key role in shaping the German monetary, economic and social union .

From 1993 to 1998 he was President of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association and then for two years (until 2000) the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) .

Horst Köhler in conversation with the singer Bono of the Irish rock band U2 (2000)
Horst Köhler as Director of the IMF with Néstor Kirchner , President of Argentina (2004)

In 2000, Köhler was appointed Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the suggestion of Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder ( SPD ). Schröder first suggested Caio Koch-Weser , but the US government rejected him. Schröder then asked former Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD) for advice, who recommended Horst Köhler to him because he had “public reputation in the world” and was accepted by the USA. As the eighth director, Köhler held this management function until March 4, 2004.

In one of his first official acts, Köhler received a delegation of anti-poverty activists together with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown . With singer and activist Bono , Köhler discussed a campaign for debt relief for the poorest developing countries by the IMF , World Bank and state lenders.

During the Asian crisis of 1997 and 1998 Köhler spent some time in Indonesia . As director of the IMF , he cited the experiences made there as an example of what he considered to be the intrusive and detail-oriented management style of the monetary fund.

This assessment was also expressed in Köhler's position on the financial and economic crises around the turn of the millennium in Brazil , Argentina and Turkey . Köhler, who wanted to avoid overlapping with the work of the World Bank , advocated a more comprehensive macroeconomic management style and the expansion of IMF competencies in international financial and capital markets. Shortly after taking office, he founded the “Financial Sector Review Group” under the direction of John Lipsky . At Lipsky's suggestion, Köhler also set up the International Capital Markets department in March 2001 to anticipate and ward off financial crises in countries with IMF bonds.

During his time as director of the International Monetary Fund, Köhler made numerous trips to Africa and advocated making the fight against poverty on the continent one of the fund's main tasks. To this end, the West must learn to “listen” and give Africans more space in shaping reforms, said Köhler on a trip abroad to Mali in January 2001.

After more than 20 years in finance and currency policy , he was appointed honorary professor at the University of Tübingen at the same time as Wilhelm Rall in autumn 2003 .

On May 23, 2004 Horst Köhler was elected 9th President of the Federal Republic of Germany. He took up this position on July 1, 2004. On May 23, 2009 he was re-elected for a further term of office with 613 votes in the first ballot. As usual, his CDU membership "rested" during his tenure. On May 31, 2010 he announced his resignation from the office of Federal President, which he justified by criticizing his statements in the debate on the Bundeswehr's mission in Afghanistan.

After his resignation, Koehler did not initially appear in public. It was not until January 24, 2011 that he gave a speech at the University of Tübingen on the reform of the international monetary system as a project of cooperative global monetary policy ( Palais-Royal Initiative ).

In autumn and winter 2010, Köhler worked with renowned financial experts from all over the world to develop recommendations for the G20. In August 2012, Horst Köhler was appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations to the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda , a body of globally recognized personalities who should work out a proposal for new global development goals.

Horst Köhler is one of the international advisors of Kulczyk Investments SA based in Luxembourg, a company of the richest Polish entrepreneur Jan Kulczyk .

On August 16, 2017, Horst Köhler was appointed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as UN Special Envoy for Western Sahara , where he acted as mediator in the Western Sahara conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front . He succeeded the US diplomat Christopher WS Ross . He resigned from this office in May 2019 for health reasons.


Köhler is Protestant. He took part in the discussion “Shaping the world economy” and “Shaping globalization” at the German Evangelical Church Congress in 2007 and advocated a partnership between Europe and Africa . Köhler has been married to Eva Luise Köhler since 1969 , who was at times involved in local politics as an SPD member . They have two children, Jochen Köhler, born 1977, and Ulrike Köhler, born 1973, who fell ill with retinopathia pigmentosa as a teenager and became blind as a result. Ulrike Köhler then attended the Carl Strehl School in Marburg as a pupil and graduated from high school there in 1992.

In May 2011, at the invitation of the Polish government, Köhler traveled to his Polish hometown for the first time since the end of the war.

9th President of the Federal Republic of Germany (2004–2010)


On March 4, 2004, the CDU, CSU and FDP nominated Köhler as joint candidates for the election of the Federal President on May 23, 2004 . Thereupon Köhler resigned from his position as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Due to the number of votes in the Federal Assembly , Horst Köhler was the favorite to succeed Johannes Rau against the government candidate, Gesine Schwan ( SPD ). Köhler's nomination was received differently by the public: While business circles expressed unanimous support, other circles such as DGB or Attac were bothered by the fact that Köhler's profile was almost exclusively shaped by his role in economic life. Still others emphasized this as a plus point, since for the first time in the history of the Federal Republic a president could be elected who had not gained his identity solely through political activity.

Comments during the candidacy

According to his own statements, the focus of his tenure should be promoting further reforms . He said on March 4, 2004, that he had “never aspired to the federal presidency.” But with his experience he could bring something “that Germany needs above all now, namely a discussion and a process of change not only in the economy”. Politicians must also increase the pace and make faster decisions.

On March 7, 2004, at his first political appearance after the nomination, he described the contents and plans of the so-called Agenda 2010 of the federal government as “far from sufficient”, but Germany has the potential to cope with the challenges. In the future it must be explained to people even better than before why the reforms are necessary. Science and education should be given absolute priority .

On March 10, 2004, Köhler said in a ZDF interview that he wanted to be a candidate with rough edges. Regarding the question of the direct election of the Federal President by the people, he openly showed that it could be discussed. But he does not see the absolute need for it. A statement by Köhler on March 13, 2004, in which he publicly expressed his hope that the CDU would appoint the Federal Chancellor in 2006 and named Angela Merkel by name, caused unrest in the Union .


Main article: Election of the German Federal President in 2004

Horst Köhler was elected the ninth President of the Federal Republic of Germany on May 23, 2004 . The Federal Assembly, which consists of 1,205 members, elected him in the first ballot with 604 of 1,202 valid votes. He thus received one vote more than the absolute majority required for this ballot. His opponent Gesine Schwan received 589 votes.

Political work in the first term of office from 2004

Köhler speaking on the frigate Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2004

Horst Köhler often took a position on current political issues and sometimes offended politicians from all parties - despite and because of his constitutionally restricted role as Federal President. As Federal President, Köhler was one of the most popular politicians in Germany. In an opinion poll by the weekly magazine Der Spiegel in 2005, he was able to enjoy significantly higher approval ratings than Gerhard Schröder and Angela Merkel.

In the speech following his election, Köhler paid tribute to the unity of Germany . He insisted on overcoming fears and regaining self-confidence, wanted a “Germany of ideas” and called for a more child-friendly society. In September 2004 he sparked controversy in an interview when he said the difference in living conditions between North and South and between East and West would remain. While proponents saw this statement only as an open expression of a truth, critics interpreted the words in such a way that the aim of harmonizing living conditions between East and West should be abandoned in the opinion of the Federal President.

On November 3, 2004, Hans Eichel and the federal government announced plans to abolish German Unity Day as a public holiday in order to increase economic growth. Instead of October 3rd, reunification should in future always be celebrated on the first Sunday in October. Köhler publicly criticized these plans, which were later abandoned.

During a multi-day trip to Israel on the occasion of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries 40 years ago, Köhler spoke to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on February 2, 2005 as the second German Federal President after Johannes Rau . Except for the greeting in Hebrew and the closing remarks, he gave the speech in German . Köhler acknowledged the German responsibility for the Shoah and the fight against hostility towards Jews . He paid tribute to the special, but also very close, relations with Israel and pledged Germany's support for the peace process in the Middle East .

On May 8, 2005, Horst Köhler gave a speech in the Reichstag building on the anniversary of the end of the Second World War . In his speech “Talent for Freedom”, he declared that there could be no drawback. Critics criticized the, from their point of view, unreflective view of the “success story of Germany ”, the development work after 1945, which he emphasized too much in relation to the suffering of the war and the Nazi dictatorship .

In his speech “The Order of Freedom” on March 15, 2005, Köhler demanded that, in view of the mass unemployment, politicians should classify the creation of jobs as more important than other political goals:

“In view of the situation on the labor market, we now need a political priority rule for work in Germany. Whatever helps create and secure competitive jobs must be done. What is contrary to this must be avoided. What serves other goals, no matter how desirable, is of secondary importance. "

On July 21, 2005, Horst Köhler dissolved the German Bundestag at the Federal Chancellor's suggestion after the dissolution-oriented vote of confidence and set up new elections on September 18, 2005. Two members of the Bundestag appealed against Köhler's decision to the Federal Constitutional Court. However, on August 25, the court ruled that the dissolution of parliament was admissible and dismissed the claims. Six judges agreed with this judgment , two judges expressed their dissenting opinion in a minority vote.

In October 2005, Horst Köhler spoke out against active euthanasia at a symposium of the Federal Working Group on Hospice :

"Not by the hand of another should people die, but at the hands of another."

At the same time, he advocated regulating the handling of living wills by law. Every person must be able to decide in every phase of his life whether and which life-prolonging measures to undergo.

In terms of foreign policy, Federal President Köhler advocated globalization with reliable rules and a fair partnership with Africa . Köhler already set this focus in his inaugural speech as Federal President in 2004 when he described German engagement in Africa as a question of self-respect: “For me, the humanity of our world is decided by the fate of Africa. Isn't it a question of Europe's self-respect to be honest and generous in Africa - with a view to our own foundations, our values ​​and history - isn't it a question of Europe's self-respect? "

Köhler then founded the "Partnership with Africa". As an initiative for a “dialogue at eye level”, it brought heads of state, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, students and journalists from Europe and Africa into mutual discussion. In March 2006, Köhler also spoke out in favor of the Bundeswehr being deployed before the elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo . At the award of the ninth Weilheim Literature Prize in honor of Wole Soyinka , Köhler criticized the West’s image of Africa and doubted whether colonial thought patterns had actually been overcome. In the reporting, Africa is mainly portrayed as a continent of crises and disasters, and school books and teaching aids are still laden with clichés. On the day before his resignation from the office of Federal President, Köhler presented the book “Destiny Africa” which he had published. In addition to contributions by authors such as the Nobel Prize for Literature Wole Soyinka, the former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki and Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate , Köhler reiterated his demand for a fair partnership with Africa and called for an end to injustices in European trade and agricultural policy . With the large number of trips to Africa, Köhler set an example and found recognition across party lines.

On October 24, 2006, Köhler failed to issue a law for the first time. The privatization of German air traffic control (DFS) resolved by the Bundestag and the air traffic control law passed for this purpose are incompatible with the Basic Law . As a result, the law was dropped because there was no necessary amendment to the Basic Law. For the second time, on December 8, 2006, Köhler refused to approve a project of the grand coalition - in his opinion the Consumer Information Act was incompatible with the Basic Law. The new regulation violates the ban, introduced three months earlier as part of the federalism reform , on delegating tasks to municipalities through federal laws. The Bundestag and Bundesrat then passed the law without the provisions criticized by the Federal President. The decision of December 2006 provoked criticism from the ranks of the Union and the SPD of Köhler's understanding of office, which led to a debate about the necessity and scope of the presidential examination competence.

Horst Köhler giving a speech on the occasion of the state visit to Brazil (2007)

The EU reform Lisbon Treaty , which was adopted in December 2007 by the European Heads of State and Government and in the April / May 2008 approved by the Bundestag and Bundesrat, unsigned Horst Koehler initially. At the request of the Federal Constitutional Court, where a lawsuit against the Lisbon Treaty was pending, he announced that he would only sign the ratification document after a positive decision by the court. However, the judgment announced on June 30, 2009 temporarily halted the ratification process, so that the ratification instrument was not signed until a new resolution was passed by the Bundestag and Bundesrat. On September 23, 2009, Köhler signed the laws accompanying the implementation of the contract in Berlin , already in his second term of office (see below) . Two days later, after the laws were promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette, Köhler prepared the ratification document, and on the same day it was deposited in Rome.

Against the background of the financial crisis from 2007 , Köhler spoke out in favor of regulating and “taming” the financial markets and “ financial capitalism ”.

In 2006, Horst Köhler chose the auditorium of a Berlin school as the location for his first so-called Berlin speech on the subject of "Education for All". He highlighted the importance of education, referred to the PISA studies and called for greater commitment from all. In his next Berlin speech, “Humanity's pursuit of happiness is changing the world”, Köhler spoke about globalization and the positive and negative consequences this has for people in Germany and in the world. In 2008 the title of his speech was “Work, Education, Integration”. In it, the Federal President outlined the reforms that he believed to be pending in Germany and praised the reform steps that had already been taken. His last speech in Berlin in 2009 was entitled “The Credibility of Freedom” and dealt with the challenges associated with the financial crisis .

On January 27, 2009, Köhler gave the main speech on the occasion of the commemoration for the day of commemoration of the victims of National Socialism in front of the German Bundestag. On March 21, 2009, Federal President Köhler gave the funeral speech for the victims of the Winnenden rampage . In his speech, Köhler called for a social culture of mutual respect and care for one another and suggested closer control of films and computer games that glorify violence.

Re-election and second term since 2009

Horst Köhler in Brackenheim (2009)

On May 22, 2008, Köhler declared that he would run again for the office of Federal President at the 13th Federal Assembly convened on May 23, 2009 . As in 2004, Köhler faced the SPD candidate Gesine Schwan again. He was able to rely on the support of the bourgeois camp consisting of the CDU, CSU , FDP and the Free Voters , who had a narrow majority of 614 votes in the Federal Assembly. Horst Köhler was re-elected as Federal President on May 23rd in the first ballot with 613 votes for a second term, which began on July 1st, 2009.

Confirmed in office, the Federal President proposed to the 17th German Bundestag, which was elected on September 27, 2009, that Angela Merkel be elected Chancellor, which took place in the first ballot. Thereupon Horst Köhler appointed Merkel's second cabinet .

Pope Benedict XVI dedicated the Federal President Horst Köhler . on December 4, 2009 a concert in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican on the occasion of 60 years of the Basic Law and 20 years since the events of 1989.

In spring 2010 Horst Köhler kept a critical distance from the politics of the black-yellow coalition under Angela Merkel . Köhler was dissatisfied with the previous work, the people expected "active governance". He saw no scope for a tax cut. Köhler also did not spare criticism of the Growth Acceleration Act : "As if it were the state that could ensure more and faster growth."

Controversy about deployments abroad

At the end of May 2010, during an interview on the return flight after a visit by Bundeswehr troops to Afghanistan , Köhler said in response to a journalist's question whether the existing Afghanistan mandate was sufficient because Germany was meanwhile at war , or we made a clear commitment to it armed conflict or a new political discourse:

“No, we need a political discourse in society about how it is that respect and recognition are sometimes missing, although the soldiers do such a good job. [...] We are also fighting there for our security in Germany, we are fighting there in alliance with allies, with other nations on the basis of a mandate from the United Nations, a resolution of the United Nations. [...] But my assessment is that overall we are on the way to understanding that a country of our size with this foreign trade orientation and thus also foreign trade dependency must also know that in case of doubt, in an emergency also more militarily Action is necessary to safeguard our interests, for example free trade routes, for example to prevent entire regional instabilities, which will certainly also affect our chances negatively through trade, jobs and income. All of this is to be discussed and I think we are on a not so bad way. [...] There will be deaths again, so to speak. Not only with soldiers, possibly also with civilian construction workers as a result of an accident. [...] Even at this price, you have to protect your interests, so to speak. [...] "

- Horst Köhler : May 22, 2010 in an interview with Deutschlandradio

Some government and opposition politicians criticized these statements, some of them violently. The parliamentary group leader of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen , Jürgen Trittin , responded to Köhler's statement by comparing it to historical gunboat policy . With the justification of armed foreign trade policy, Köhler would no longer be based on the Basic Law . Ruprecht Polenz described Köhler's remarks as “misleading” and “not a particularly happy formulation”. Others spoke of a “presidential misstep”, of “extreme positions”, the statements were “extremely dangerous”, and neither the mandates nor the constitution covered “economic wars”. The utterances are “incompatible with the constitution”, the “Basic Law does not permit economic wars”, the utterances are “hardly constitutionally covered”. Gregor Gysi, on the other hand, group leader of the Left in the Bundestag, welcomed the statements, because "we [the left] are the ones who have always said that it is not about school cones, but that there are really economic reasons behind the Afghanistan war". Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, on the other hand, pointed out that the Afghanistan mission itself was not based on economic interests, but rather a UN mandate that was supposed to serve the fight against terrorism and the stabilization of the region. Economic interests and security policy could, however, “be connected”.

Köhler explained that "these statements [...] refer to the current operations of the Bundeswehr decided by the German Bundestag, such as Operation Atalanta against piracy," the Bundeswehr operations in Afghanistan are based on a UN mandate . The defense policy spokeswoman for the parliamentary group of the FDP, Elke Hoff , referred to the fact that Koehler's statements corresponded to the formulations of the Bundeswehr White Book published in 2006 by the federal government . In 2003, the European Council had already pointed out in its European Security Strategy that “Europe's energy dependency was a particular cause for concern” and that the use of instruments “including military use as a last resort” for conflict prevention and crisis management could be necessary. In 2008 the CDU / CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag published a “Security Strategy for Germany” which states: “The establishment of energy security and the supply of raw materials can also make the use of military means necessary, for example to secure vulnerable sea trade routes or infrastructure such as Ports, pipelines, conveyor systems, etc. "

The statement by his press spokesman on the criticized radio interview and the agreement of his statements with the political statements of these bodies hardly met with public response, and the criticism did not fall silent.


On May 31, 2010, Köhler surprisingly announced his immediate resignation from the office of German Federal President:

“My remarks on foreign missions by the German armed forces on May 22nd of this year met with strong criticism. I regret that what I said could lead to misunderstandings on a question that is important and difficult for our nation. The criticism goes so far as to suggest that I advocate operations by the Bundeswehr that are not covered by the Basic Law. There is no justification for this criticism. It lacks the necessary respect for my office. I hereby declare my resignation from the office of Federal President - with immediate effect. I would like to thank the many people in Germany who have placed their trust in me and supported my work. I ask for your understanding for my decision. According to the constitution, the powers of the Federal President are now exercised by the President of the Federal Council. I informed Mayor Böhrnsen of my decision by telephone, as did the President of the German Bundestag , the Federal Chancellor , the President of the Federal Constitutional Court and the Vice Chancellor . It was an honor for me to serve Germany as Federal President. "

When asked about Köhler's resignation, Chancellor Merkel stated: “I was surprised, of course, and tried to change his mind again during the phone call. Unfortunately, that didn't work. And that's why I say, I regret this resignation very hard. ”She is also said to have warned Köhler that his resignation could trigger a state crisis and damage confidence in the office. He would also make himself vulnerable because his step was not clearly understandable. The resignation was regretted by many politicians, and by others, including the government parties, according to Baden-Württemberg's Prime Minister Stefan Mappus , as "unfounded", "unnecessary" or "exaggerated". The German and foreign press reminded of Köhler's popularity among the population, but also the accusation that he had insufficiently differentiated between himself and his office, that criticism belonged to a democratic public, and that his resignation had harmed himself and the office that his departure was disloyal and cowardly. In accordance with Art. 54 Paragraph 4 of the Basic Law , the meeting of the Federal Assembly to elect a new President was scheduled for June 30, 2010. Until then, Federal Council President Jens Böhrnsen took over the official business on a provisional basis in accordance with Article 57 of the Basic Law.

On June 15, 2010, Horst Köhler was ceremoniously bid farewell with the big tattoo in the park of Bellevue Palace . He did not provide any additional explanations for his withdrawal. At a reception shortly before the big tattoo, Köhler said: “I made public statements about the reasons for my resignation; I have nothing to add to that of my own accord. I made a decision that I believed was right and that I continue to believe is right. Respect and truthfulness should have a permanent place in the political culture of our country. "

After leaving office, Köhler is entitled to continue to receive his office remuneration, with the exception of the expense allowances, for life as honorary salary , whereby pension claims from other public offices are fully offset. According to Bild am Sonntag , however, Köhler waived his honorary salary.

Resignation debate

Hans-Olaf Henkel interprets Köhler's resignation with the euro crisis and the establishment of the European stabilization mechanism . At the beginning of June 2010, Henkel said in the ARD talk with Sandra Maischberger about this program: “ Something really happened there, you almost have to call it a putsch.” It was “chased through the Bundestag in the morning and the Bundesrat in the afternoon and the next day - maybe - the Federal President had to sign it ”. That "would be the only acceptable reason to resign". The Süddeutsche Zeitung also suspects a connection with the hasty adoption of aid to Greece, which Koehler had always rejected before. She sees the death of his personal friend Gert Haller and the problems that arose after he left as head of the Federal President's office as another reason .

Köhler himself only expressed himself in June 2011 in an interview with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit , in which he first spoke about the reasons for his resignation. In it he declared: "The attacks on me in connection with my statements about Germany's security interests were outrageous and unjustified". At the time, one had to wonder whether one could accuse the Federal President of worse in view of the German history of the 20th century.

Acting as former federal president

Horst Köhler as a member of the “High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda” of the United Nations .

After his resignation, Köhler initially did not make any public appearances. Köhler "has not been competing for attention since then," writes Die Welt in a portrait of the former Federal President. Even after his tenure as Federal President, Köhler remained politically active and is primarily committed to the topics of Africa , sustainability and transformation as well as global partnership.

From autumn 2010, Köhler took part in the “Palais-Royal Initiative”, which, under the leadership of Michel Camdessus , Alexandre Lamfalussy and Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, developed reform approaches for the international monetary system. On January 24, 2011, Köhler presented the results of the initiative in a lecture at the University of Tübingen .

2012 appointed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Horst Köhler in the "High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda" of the United Nations . On May 30, 2013, the Ban Ki-moon panel presented a final report, thereby contributing to the creation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development .

Köhler is considered a great expert on Africa. His successor, Joachim Gauck , therefore repeatedly asked Köhler to officially represent him on state trips to Africa. In September 2013 he traveled to Mali on behalf of Federal President Joachim Gauck to attend the inauguration of the new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta . Gauck was also represented by Horst Köhler at the celebrations for Namibia's 25th Independence Day and the simultaneous inauguration of President Hage Geingob in March 2015.

Köhler as the official representative of Germany at the swearing-in of Namibian President Hage Geingob (2015)

In July 2016, he represented the Federal Republic of Germany at the joint event organized by the French and British on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in Thiepval .

Since 2016, Horst Köhler and Kofi Annan have jointly chaired a “Special Panel” of the African Development Bank . The panel advises the development bank on the implementation of its 10-year strategy.

In recent years, Horst Köhler has repeatedly spoken out in public on social and political debates. In an interview with the Rheinische Post in October 2016, he again criticized the one-sided public perception of Africa as a continent in crisis and warned that the German image of Africa says more "about us [...] than about Africa". At the same time, Köhler called for the expansion of legal migration routes as part of a comprehensive Africa strategy that makes the continent “a core issue of European foreign policy”. Köhler also commented on the refugee debate in an interview for the Berlin Direkt show . Köhler warned that refugee movements could not be prevented as long as Europe failed to bring "large, massive investments to Africa".

In November 2016, on the occasion of the award ceremony of the Millennium Bambi, Köhler gave the eulogy for the prize winner, Pope Francis . He praised the humanity of the Pope and his commitment to refugees and at the same time warned against the rise of populist forces. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the German Federal Environmental Foundation , Köhler gave a highly acclaimed celebratory speech, part of which was published by the weekly newspaper Die Zeit . In the speech, Köhler called for a social transformation for a sustainable and fair economic model:

“There is only one possibility: if we want to end extreme poverty and if we don't want to destroy the planet in the process, then the transformation must first begin with us in the industrialized countries. It has to change how we produce and consume energy, how we move, how we eat. "

Already in 2006 Köhler and his wife founded the Eva Luise and Horst Köhler Foundation for people with rare diseases. The foundation is committed to research in the field of rare diseases and has been awarding the Eva Luise Köhler Research Prize, endowed with 50,000 euros, every year since 2007 . Köhler also continues to hold his honorary professorship at the University of Tübingen . As former Federal President, Köhler maintains an office in Berlin to fulfill subsequent obligations.

Honorary posts and patrons (selection)

Köhler's current voluntary work includes the following offices:

Orders and awards


  • Release of work through technical progress. Institute for Applied Economic Research, Tübingen 1977, DNB 780507088 (Dissertation University of Tübingen, Department of Economics 1977, VIII, 172 pages, 7 graphs , 21 cm).
  • I want to be open and uncomfortable if necessary. Hoffmann and Campe Verlag, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 978-3-455-09477-0 (Contains the transcript of a detailed interview and is divided into the chapters Values ​​and Motives, Youth and Family, Studies and Career, Encounters, Germany's Strengths, Germany's Weaknesses , Germany's role in the world and understanding of ministry; a curriculum vitae, a list of image sources and a register are attached).
  • As editor with Henning Mankell : Destiny Africa: Food for thought and experience reports . Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-499-62644-9 .

Literature (selection)

Web links

Commons : Horst Köhler  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Horst Köhler  - in the news

Individual evidence

  1. a b Horst Köhler's resignation speech from May 31, 2010 ( Memento from June 3, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Barrack child in Bellevue Palace in: from May 21, 2004
  3. ^ "Freedom is part of inequality" ( Memento from January 1, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (last accessed on December 30, 2007).
  4. Euro in danger - How Horst contradicts the Koehler. In: Spiegel Online , April 29, 2010.
  5. Debt without atonement - 15 years of monetary union: How West German banks enriched themselves with fictitious GDR loans at our expense. In: Der Tagesspiegel , July 1, 2005.
  6. Questions to Helmut Schmidt , ZEIT magazine No. 28 of July 12, 2010.
  7. landtag.nrw: The election of the Federal President
  8. Michael M. Phillips: IMF's Koehler Wins Over Skeptics Amid Tough Time for Global Lender. In: The Wall Street Journal , September 27, 2000.
  9. ^ Alan Beattie: Suharto and the crisis of Asian crony capitalism, January 1998. In: Financial Times Magazine , July 19, 2008 (English).
  10. ^ Joseph Kahn: An Effort by US to Change the IMF Is Set Back. In: The New York Times , August 8, 2000.
  11. ^ David Stout: IMF Creates Unit to Spot Early Signs of Foreign Crises. In: The New York Times , March 2, 2001.
  12. Gerhard Klas: Listening in Africa - IMF and World Bank have no answers to problems. Retrieved April 18, 2017 .
  13. There he is again! - Horst Köhler's first public appearance after his resignation. An on-site appointment. In: Die Zeit No. 5, January 27, 2011; Professor Dr. Horst Köhler spoke about the reform of the international monetary system. ( Memento from August 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Press release, University of Tübingen, January 26, 2011. Complete text of the lecture ( Memento from August 21, 2017 in the Internet Archive ). Report of the Palais-Royal Initiative:
  14. On January 21, 2011, the group presented its report to the French President and rotating G-20 chairman Nicolas Sarkozy.
  15. ^ The Panel. In: Post2015HLP.org (English).
  16. Aleksander Kwaśniewski dostaje wysoką pensję od firmy Jana Kulczyka. In: Gazeta Wyborcza , January 4, 2013 (Polish).
  17. UN Secretary General statement , August 16, 2017 (English).
  18. Horst Köhler resigns as UN special envoy
  19. Federal President Köhler and Chancellor Merkel at the Kirchentag - Europe and Africa “in one boat” ( Memento from July 28, 2011 in the Internet Archive ). In: WDR.de , 2007.
  20. Horst Köhler for joint teaching of disabled and non-disabled children
  21. Rheinische Post May 12, 2011
  22. ^ Mark Landler: Suddenly, in the Limelight, the President of Germany. In: The New York Times , July 4, 2005.
  23. Question of national identity ( Memento of December 10, 2004 in the Internet Archive ), WDR of October 24, 2006.
  24. The order of freedom. Speech by Federal President Horst Köhler at the employers' forum “Economy and Society” in Berlin on November 23, 2006.
  25. D. h. the negative outcome of the vote of confidence was in line with the Chancellor's expectations and intentions
  26. On the way to real partnership - speech by Federal President Horst Köhler on the occasion of a lunch with former African presidents on the occasion of the "African Presidential Roundtable". In: Bundespräsident.de , April 27, 2009; Christoph Wirtz: Interview with Federal President Horst Köhler for the magazine "Afrika-Wirtschaft" of the Africa Association. In: African Association of German Business , October 25, 2006.
  27. ^ Jule Reime: Köhler, Africa and world trade. In: Deutschlandfunk , June 1, 2010.
  28. ^ Future of Koehler's African projects uncertain after resignation. In: Deutsche Welle , June 2, 2010 (English).
  29. Koehler accuses West of colonial thinking. Spiegel Online, June 13, 2006.
  30. ^ Escape from office: Why Horst Koehler no longer wanted to be president. In: Die Welt , May 22, 2011.
  31. Closed ears. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , June 28, 2010.
  32. Listener and pioneer: Horst Köhler turns 65. In: n-tv .de , February 21, 2008.
  33. Köhler stops law on consumer information , Spiegel Online of December 8, 2006
  34. ^ Köhler does not sign the Lisbon Treaty. In: Die Welt , June 30, 2008.
  35. ^ Judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court of June 30, 2009
  36. ^ Federal President Köhler signs the Lisbon Treaty. In: Zeit Online , September 23, 2009.
  37. E.g. speech by Federal President Horst Köhler at the IX. Munich Economic Summit, April 29, 2010 Munich. In: Bundespräsident.de .
  38. Berlin speech 2006 by Federal President Horst Köhler. In: Bundespräsident.de .
  39. Berlin speech 2007 by Federal President Horst Köhler. In: Bundespräsident.de .
  40. Berlin speech 2008 by Federal President Horst Köhler. In: Bundespräsidialamt.de .
  41. Berlin speech in 2009 by Federal President Horst Köhler. In: Bundespräsident.de .
  42. ^ Speech by Federal President Köhler: "All of Germany mourns with you". In: SWR Aktuell .
  43. Address of the Pope. Libreria Editrice Vaticana from December 4, 2009.
  44. Federal President Köhler brings tax increases into play. In: Spiegel online , March 20, 2010 ( online )
  45. "You really do great things under the most difficult of conditions" Full text of the interview (unabridged) .
  46. Focus Online from May 28, 2010: Bundeswehr statements - Opposition waddles Köhler
  47. Spiegel Online from May 27, 2010 Koehler takes cover
  48. ^ Die Welt: Presidential Misstep , May 28, 2010
  49. Die Welt: Köhler irritates with comment on Afghanistan, May 28, 2010.
  50. Focus: Conflicts: Köhler triggers debate about deployments abroad, May 27, 2010.
  51. Die Zeit: Military use for German economic interests ?, ( Memento from June 1, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) May 27, 2010.
  52. Deutschlandfunk: "It has nothing to do with us", June 1, 2010.
  53. Criticism of Köhler's statement: Federal President Köhler is criticized for his statement on the Afghanistan mission . ( Memento from July 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Video on Tagesschau.de.
  54. Focus Online from May 27, 2010: Foreign deployment of the Bundeswehr - Köhler claims to have meant it differently
  55. Focus: Foreign deployment of the Bundeswehr: Köhler claims to have meant it differently , May 27, 2010
  56. Reuters: Critique of Köhler's reasoning for foreign deployments, May 27, 2010.
  57. The EU Security Strategy (ESS). Federal Foreign Office, January 30, 2006, accessed March 30, 2011 .
  58. ^ Resolution of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group of May 6, 2008 on a security strategy for Germany ( Memento of May 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  59. Focus Online from June 1, 2010: Search for Köhler's successor
  60. RP Online from May 31, 2010: New elections within 30 days at the latest: Bremen mayor new head of state ( Memento from July 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  61. Euronews.net: Merkel: I regret Köhler's resignation very hard
  62. Financial Times Deutschland : Merkel is said to have warned Köhler of the state crisis and fidelity damage ( memento from August 1, 2012 in the web archive archive.today )
  63. ^ Spiegel: Merkel warned Köhler of a serious crisis for Germany
  64. Picture : CDU Prime Minister Mappus: The attacks and attacks were no reason to resign
  65. Spiegel : The “relegated of the year” falls himself
  66. FAZ : Köhler's departure was disloyal and cowardly
  67. ^ Spiegel.de of May 31, 2010: Bellevue Palace - Böhrnsen takes over Köhler's official duties .
  68. ^ Katharina Schuler : Köhler Gets the Blues . In: Zeit.de from June 15, 2010.
  69. ^ Farewell to Bellevue . ARD special broadcast, June 15, 2010 9:50 pm – 10: 40 pm; the quoted words from 9:15 am to 9:38 am.
  70. Law on the Federal President's Pension Fund (PDF; 28 kB)
  71. The mirror
  72. People at Maischberger. In: ARD , June 1, 2010
  73. Quotation n .: Resignation of the Federal President. Gauweiler asks the 148 billion euro question. In: Der Spiegel , June 26, 2010.
  74. faz.net May 14, 2010: Köhler praises the euro rescue package
  75. Stefan Braun: Sad, lonely, disappointed. Horst Köhler resigned because he lost a close friend and felt increasingly politically isolated . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , June 26, 2010.
  76. Horst Koehler breaks his silence. - The former Federal President spoke for the first time about his resignation. "The attacks were monstrous," he told ZEIT. He was deliberately misunderstood. In: Die Zeit vom June 8, 2011, accessed on March 8, 2012.
  77. Horst Köhler: “Africa will come to us without prosperity” - WELT. Retrieved April 20, 2017 .
  78. ^ Federal President a. D. Horst Köhler - person, topics, speeches and texts. In: Federal President a. D. Prof. Dr. Horst Koehler. Retrieved October 11, 2016 .
  79. ^ The Palais-Royal Initiative on the Reform of the International Monetary System. Retrieved April 20, 2017 (UK English).
  80. Ex-Federal President Köhler gives a lecture on the world currency crisis . In: Schwäbisches Tagblatt online . ( tagblatt.de [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  81. Post-2015 Sherpa Dr. Rödiger-Vorwerk: UN High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. BMZ, June 5, 2013, accessed on April 20, 2017 .
  82. Florian Gathmann: Western Sahara conflict: Ex-Federal President Köhler is to become UN special envoy. In: Spiegel online. Retrieved April 20, 2017 .
  83. Köhler on a trip to Africa: Gauck is represented by his predecessor . In: BILD.de . ( bild.de [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  84. Appointment in Africa: Federal President Gauck is represented by Horst Köhler. Spiegel Online, October 13, 2013, accessed November 3, 2013 .
  85. ^ Rita Herkenrath: Federal President a. D. Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler visited Namibia. Retrieved April 20, 2017 .
  86. Hollande and Cameron remember the dead Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on FAZ.NET ; Retrieved July 2, 2016
  87. ^ Launch of Special Panel on Accelerating the Implementation of the Bank's Ten Year Strategy . In: African Development Bank . ( afdb.org [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  88. Michael Bröcker and Eva Quadbeck: Interview with Horst Köhler: 'Africa is a historical task'. Retrieved April 20, 2017 .
  89. Horst Köhler Interview Berlin directly from September 25, 2016 ZDF
  90. ^ Ex-Federal President Koehler honors Pope in "Bambi" -Laudatio. In: domradio.de. Retrieved April 20, 2017 .
  91. Bambi Awards: Pope Francis remembers Europe's Christian roots - WELT. Retrieved April 20, 2017 .
  92. Westdeutsche Verlags- und Werbegesellschaft mbH & Co. KG: 25 years of environmental foundation and a courageous look into the future . In: lokalkompass.de . ( lokalkompass.de [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  93. Horst Köhler: Sustainability: We can do it differently . In: The time . January 1, 2017, ISSN  0044-2070 ( zeit.de [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  94. Horst Köhler becomes honorary senator . In: Schwäbisches Tagblatt online . ( tagblatt.de [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  95. ↑ Honorary salary, office and staff - A question of morality and decency ; Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, March 11, 2012
  96. University of Münster
  97. ^ Friede Springer Foundation. In: friedespringerstiftung.de. Retrieved August 8, 2019 .
  98. Co-Chairs | Emerging Markets Forum. Retrieved April 20, 2017 (Chinese (China)).
  99. ^ Launch of Special Panel on Accelerating the Implementation of the Bank's Ten Year Strategy . In: African Development Bank . ( afdb.org [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  100. {$ page.meta.autor}: Friedrich August von Hayek Foundation: Kuratorium. Retrieved April 20, 2017 .
  101. Partner & Supporter • Operndorf Afrika . In: Opera Village Africa . ( operndorf-afrika.com [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  102. Support . In: The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings . ( lindau-nobel.org [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  103. ↑ A matter of opinion: organization and team • Global Ethic Foundation for intercultural and interreligious research, education and encounter. Retrieved April 20, 2017 .
  104. WZGE Admin: Organization . In: Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics WZGE . ( wcge.org [accessed April 20, 2017]).
  105. List of all decorations awarded by the Federal President for services to the Republic of Austria from 1952 (PDF; 6.9 MB)
  106. ^ Honorary Knights and Dames at Leigh Ramyment's Peerage
  107. Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentė. Retrieved August 15, 2019 .
  108. ENTIDADES ESTRANGEIRAS AGRACIADAS COM ORDENS PORTUGUESAS - Página Oficial the Order of Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved August 15, 2019 .
  109. Alexander-Riistow badge. ( Memento from March 26, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) In: Aktiongemeinschaft Soziale Marktwirtschaft .
  110. ^ Event Berlin, October 17, 2014. In: Forum Ecological-Social Market Economy.
  111. Married couple Horst and Eva Luise Köhler receive Martin Luther Medal 2015 , ekd.de, report from 23 September 2015.
  112. CARE Millennium Prize for Horst Köhler , care.de, notification of September 10, 2015.
  113. Horst Köhler honored with World Economic Prize. Süddeutsche Zeitung , June 18, 2017, accessed on August 26, 2020 . .
  114. Awarding of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal of Honor 2020. Accessed on March 11, 2020 .