Rita Süssmuth

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Rita Süssmuth (2014)
Süssmuth at the CDU party conference in 2012

Rita Süssmuth (née Kickuth ; born February 17, 1937 in Wuppertal ) is a German politician ( CDU ).

From 1985 to 1988 she was Federal Minister for Youth, Family and Health (from 1986 Youth, Family, Women and Health) and from 1988 to 1998 President of the German Bundestag . At almost ten years her term in office was the third longest in the history of the Bundestag. Only Eugen Gerstenmaier and Norbert Lammert held the office longer.

In addition to her political work, Süssmuth was involved in many civil society projects, for example as President of the European Movement Germany (1994–1998) and a member of the advisory board and board of trustees of the non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation (1997–2007). She has been honored many times for her services.

Life and work

Süssmuth was born the daughter of a teacher. She spent her childhood in Wadersloh . After graduating from high school in 1956 at Emsland-Gymnasium in Rheine , she studied Romance studies and history in Münster , Tübingen and Paris , which she completed on July 20, 1961 with the first state examination for teaching. This was followed by postgraduate studies in educational science , sociology and psychology . In 1964 she received her doctorate as Dr. phil. with the work Studies on the Anthropology of Children in Contemporary French Literature at the University of Münster . From 1963 to 1966 she worked as a research assistant at the universities of Stuttgart (with Robert Spaemann ) and Osnabrück and from 1966 as a lecturer at the University of Education Ruhr. From 1969 to 1982 she had a teaching position at the Ruhr University Bochum for international comparative education.

In 1971 she was appointed full professor for educational science at the Pädagogische Hochschule Ruhr . In 1973 she accepted the position at the University of Dortmund . Since 1971 she has been on the scientific advisory board of the Federal Ministry for Family .

From 1982 to 1985 she was director of the Institute for Women and Society in Hanover . During her time as an active politician, she gave block courses at the University of Göttingen .

In September 2000 she was appointed by the then Minister of the Interior Otto Schily to chair an independent commission on immigration, which was set up on September 12, 2000 and which had 21 members. Deputy chairman of the commission was Hans-Jochen Vogel . The commission's task was to work out an overall concept for a new law on foreigners. The results of this work were presented in July 2001 in the form of a report entitled Shaping Immigration - Promoting Integration . The published brochure was 323 pages.

In 2002 she became a member of the Limbach Commission , which acts as a mediator on questions related to Nazi-looted art .

On September 6, 2005, Rita Süssmuth was appointed the new president of the state-recognized OTA private university in Berlin , today SRH Hochschule Berlin . In January 2010 she handed over the position to Peter Eichhorn . For her great commitment in the fight against AIDS, Rita Süssmuth received the Reminders Day Award in 2007 .

Rita Süssmuth has been married to the university professor Hans Süssmuth since 1964 and has a daughter.

Political party

She has been a member of the CDU since 1981 . In 1983 she became chairwoman of the party's federal committee for family policy. From 1986 to 2001 she was national chairwoman of the Women's Union . From 1987 to 1998 she was a member of the CDU Presidium.


Süssmuth visiting the Friedrichshain Hospital in 1990

From 1987 to 2002 she was a member of the German Bundestag . In the federal elections in 1987, 1990 and 1994 she won the direct mandate in the constituency of Göttingen and in 1998 she entered parliament via the state list of the CDU Lower Saxony .

On November 25, 1988 she was elected President of the German Bundestag . In September 1989, together with Lothar Späth and Heiner Geissler, she was part of the inner-party group that was considering a candidacy against CDU chairman Helmut Kohl at the CDU party conference in Bremen. In December 1989 Süssmuth advocated a joint declaration by both German states recognizing the Polish western border. In July 1990 she presented a "third way" in the dispute over § 218 ( termination of pregnancy ) between the indication and the deadline solution.

In March 1991 it hit the headlines in connection with the "company car affair". According to the allegation, her husband used the transport service of the German Bundestag . The Bundestag administration established the legality of this process.

In 1992 the CDU parliamentary group and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl criticized their initiative "The final decision must lie with the woman" to reform the abortion law. In September 1992 it failed because of the Union with the plan to change the Bonn MPs to a zero diet round.

In March 1993, all parliamentary groups supported their proposal to reduce the number of around 660 members of the Bundestag to 500. In July 1993 she upset the CDU by demanding that the potash merger agreement be disclosed in connection with the Thuringian potash mine in Bischofferode, which is threatened with closure . In October 1993, Süssmuth accused Steffen Heitmann , the candidate of the CDU for the office of Federal President, of playing down the National Socialist past . However, at a closed meeting of the party executive committee, she voted for Heitmann.

In 1995 Süssmuth was convinced that reconciliation would not be possible without coming to terms with the past of the new federal states. In May 1995 she sharply criticized the worsening of wages in the case of sickness and protection against dismissal planned in the federal government's austerity package, as well as the raising of the retirement age for women to 65 years. In October 1996, in a speech at the federal party congress of the CDU, she advocated the introduction of the women's quota within the CDU. In January 1997, the Bundestag's Council of Elders exonerated Süssmuth from the accusation that from 1993 to 1996 she had used the Federal Ministry of Defense's readiness to fly for private visits to her daughter in Switzerland . In 1998 she got involved in the erection of a Holocaust memorial in Berlin. After the Bundestag election in 1998 , the SPD provided the Bundestag President. She was succeeded in office on October 26, 1998 by Wolfgang Thierse .

Public offices

On September 26, 1985, she was the Federal Minister for Youth, Family and Health (from 6 June 1986, the Federal Ministry of Youth, Family, Women and Health) in the by Chancellor Helmut Kohl led government appointed. After her election as President of the Bundestag, she left the cabinet on November 25, 1988. She called for the broadest possible definition of health and opposed the lifting of health insurance coverage in the event of abortion .

When confronted with AIDS , she relied in particular on medical education and advice as preventive measures. In addition, against resistance in her party, she propagated the use of condoms for prevention. She was criticized for not recalling unchecked drugs for hemophiliacs . Numerous hemophiliacs in Germany were infected with HIV through untested drugs and died. Exact numbers are not known. Der Spiegel (41/1987) spoke of 1,500 to 2,200 hemophiliacs infected with HIV. As Minister of Health, she initiated the establishment of the National AIDS Foundation in 1987 and supported the later merger with the German AIDS Foundation Positiv Leben in 1996. Initially she was chairwoman of the foundation's board of trustees and is now its honorary chairman .

She was president of the German Adult Education Association for over 27 years and advocated adult education and lifelong learning. She has been honorary president of the association since 2015.


Rita Süssmuth is a supporter of the German Solidarity Committee for a Free Iran .


Rita Süssmuth at the Grimme Prize 2014

Further tasks


Honorary doctorates


  • 1964 Studies on the anthropology of the child in contemporary French literature with special emphasis on François Mauriacs ( dissertation , Münster)
  • 1968 On the anthropology of the child. Investigations and Interpretations . Kösel Verlag Munich
  • 1985 Women - no chance for resignation. Collection of scientific and political texts 1980–1985. Düsseldorf, Schwann publishing house, ISBN 978-3-590-18052-9
  • 1987 AIDS: ways out of fear
  • 1987 Women's Lexicon: Traditions, Facts, Perspectives . Edited by Anneliese Lissner, Rita Süssmuth, Karin Walter. 2nd edition 1989, Freiburg, Herder Verlag, ISBN 978-3-451-20977-2
  • 1989 Emma co-author
  • 1992 The haphazard elites . Together with Peter Glotz (SPD) and Konrad Seitz (ambassador). Munich, Edition Ferenczy at Bruckmann, ISBN 978-3-7654-2701-5
  • 1997 A German interim balance sheet: Viewpoints on dealing with our past . Collection of articles, edited by Rita Süssmuth and Bernward Baule. With a foreword by Roman Herzog. Munich / Landsberg am Lech, Olzog Verlag, ISBN 978-3-7892-9325-2
  • 2000 Who does not fight has already lost. My experiences in politics. Munich, Econ Verlag, ISBN 978-3-430-18905-7
  • 2007 Nevertheless: People come first. For a change in politics and society . Gütersloh, Gütersloher Verlagshaus, ISBN 978-3-579-06451-2
  • 2007 Education as a global challenge. Two statements - a conversation with Hermann Glaser , in: Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y. (Ed.): Kultur und Gerechtigkeit (= interdisciplinary cultural studies / Interdisciplinary Studies on Culture and Society, Vol. 2), Baden-Baden 2007
  • 2008 Migration and integration: test case for our society . Munich, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, ISBN 978-3-423-24583-8
  • 2015 The poison of the political. Thoughts and memories. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich ISBN 978-3-423-28043-3 ( Review in the Annotated Bibliography of Political Science )


Web links

Commons : Rita Süssmuth  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Rita Süssmuth b. 1937. House of History, accessed March 9, 2018 .
  2. ^ Rita Süssmuth (née Kickuth). Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, accessed on March 9, 2018 .
  3. Thorsten Gödecker: Mohn Prize for Rita Süssmuth . Also a friendship service. In: New Westphalian . January 21, 2015, p. 3 (comment).
  4. ↑ Shaping immigration - promoting integration. (PDF; 3.2 MB) Federal Ministry of the Interior, July 4, 2001, accessed on October 6, 2018 .
  5. Rita Süssmuth as President of the Bundestag: More Minutes than Politics Die Zeit 48/1988 of November 25, 1988
  6. CDU: Blamierte Frondeure , Der Spiegel 36/1989 of September 4, 1989
  7. Abortion: Third Way , Der Spiegel 31/1990 of July 30, 1990
  8. ↑ Company car: You have to go through there . In: Der Spiegel . tape March 12 , 18, 1991 ( spiegel.de [accessed December 10, 2018]).
  9. rejected freeze , Der Spiegel 40/1992 of 28 September 1992
  10. Matthias Thüsing: The tragedy of Bischofferode (13): Rita Süssmuth - "Everything was decided before the hunger strike" , Thüringer Allgemeine , July 11, 2014,
  11. Bundestag President Rita Süssmuth defends the right to criticize Steffen Heitmann: "I say what must be said" , Die Zeit 44/1993 of October 29, 1993
  12. ↑ Due date: October 21, 2006 - ten years ago: CDU resolves a quorum for women , wdr.de , October 21, 2006
  13. ^ Mark Gellert: Rita Süssmuth's preference for flights to Switzerland , welt.de , December 27, 2000
  14. Bettina Gaus and Jan Feddersen : Did Rita Süssmuth privately use the Air Force's readiness to fly? The allegations are getting more and more bizarre. Spicy: So far, almost only opposition politicians have wanted to make declarations of honor for them. There are increasing signs of a targeted campaign by party friends , the daily newspaper , December 20, 1996, p. 3
  15. ^ Business trips: Klose relieves Süssmuth , spiegel.de, January 13, 1997
  16. Always quickly to Zurich: President of the Bundestag Rita Süssmuth and the readiness to fly , Die Zeit 1/1997 of December 26, 1996
  17. ^ Culture: "Hängepartie" , tagesspiegel.de, May 15, 1998
  18. . . . Thierse is President of the Bundestag , Rhein-Zeitung , October 26, 1998
  19. trace in office . In: Der Spiegel . No. 41 , 1987, pp. 85-91 ( Online - Oct. 5, 1987 ).
  20. ^ Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is the new President of the Adult Education Center. German Adult Education Association , June 23, 2015, accessed on January 30, 2020.
  21. ^ Adult Education Centers say goodbye to Rita Süssmuth from the presidency - Symposium on Educational Integration , November 19, 2015
  22. Noon 2009: 29
  23. ^ Transatlantic Council on Migration Members. Migration Policy Institute, accessed March 9, 2018 .
  24. ^ DGVN Presidium
  25. The motivation for establishing the foundation for social human rights and participation. Eberhard Schultz Foundation, accessed on March 9, 2018 .
  26. FID BERLIN e. V.
  27. ^ Homepage of the St. Josef retirement home in Wadersloh with Süssmuth as patron ( Memento from July 15, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  28. Berlin Alliance Against Depression: Start. Retrieved April 1, 2015 .
  29. Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth | Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 26, 2017 ; Retrieved May 3, 2017 .
  30. A very moving evening: Congratulations to # RitaSüssmuth on being awarded our honorary membership! Twitter, April 7, 2016, accessed March 9, 2018 .
  31. "Pioneer of German-Polish Reconciliation" - Order of Merit of the country for Prof. Rita Süssmuth. In: www.stk.brandenburg.de. Retrieved November 30, 2016 .
  32. ^ Dorothea Schlözer Medal
  33. ^ Rita Süssmuth receives Humanism Prize »kathnews. Accessed March 8, 2018 (German).
  34. Tireless commitment on all levels. Landschaftsverband Rheinland, October 30, 2019, accessed on October 30, 2019 .