Thomas de Maizière

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Thomas de Maizière (2017)

Karl Ernst Thomas de Maizière [ də mɛˈzjɛʁ ] (born January 21, 1954 in Bonn ) is a German politician ( CDU ). From December 2013 to March 2018 he was Federal Minister of the Interior .

Before that, from 1990 to 1994 he was State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and from 1994 to 1998 head of the State Chancellery under Berndt Seite . From 1999 to 2001 he was head of the Saxon State Chancellery , from 2001 to 2002 Saxon State Minister of Finance , from 2002 to 2004 Saxon State Minister of Justice and from 2004 to 2005 Saxon State Minister of the Interior . From 2005 to 2009 he was Federal Minister for Special Tasks and Head of the Federal Chancellery . From October 28, 2009 to March 3, 2011, de Maizière was Federal Minister of the Interior in Merkel II's cabinet . He was then Federal Minister of Defense from March 3, 2011 until his return to the Ministry of the Interior on December 17, 2013 .

education and profession

After graduating from high school at the Aloisius College in Bonn in 1972, de Maizière did his military service as a reserve officer candidate with the Panzergrenadierbataillon 342 in Koblenz until 1974 and was released as an ensign in the reserve. In 1974 he was promoted to lieutenant and in 1977 to first lieutenant of the reserve . He performed several military exercises a . a. at the Bundeswehr Intelligence School (SNBw).

After his military service, he completed a law degree in Münster and Freiburg im Breisgau , which he completed in 1979 with the first state examination and in 1982 with the second state examination . During his studies he was involved in the ring of Christian-Democratic Students in Münster. He then became an employee of the Governing Mayor of Berlin Richard von Weizsäcker and, from 1984, of Eberhard Diepgen (CDU).

In 1986 he worked with Helmut Kollhosser and Otto Sandrock at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster with the dissertation The practice of informal procedures at the Federal Cartel Office. Presentation and legal appreciation of a hidden approach to Dr. jur. PhD. From 1985 to 1989, de Maizière was head of the policy department of the Senate Chancellery of the State of Berlin and press spokesman for the CDU parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives . In 1989 de Maizière completed the Young Leader Program of the American Council on Germany , a partner project of the German think tank Atlantik-Brücke and the American Council on Germany. In 1990 he worked for his cousin Lothar de Maizière in establishing the office of Prime Minister of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and was also a member of the negotiating delegation for the German-German unification treaty .

He has been a member of the Presidium of the German Evangelical Church Congress since 2003 . Since October 2010, de Maizière has been honorary professor for constitutional law at the law faculty of the Technical University of Dresden . He has been Chairman of the Deutsche Telekom Foundation since November 2018 .


The Huguenot family de Maizière , who came from near Metz , fled to Brandenburg in the 17th century , where Elector Friedrich Wilhelm offered them refuge. The surname is derived from the place of origin of the family, the municipality of Maizières near Metz in Lorraine .

De Maizière is the son of the artist Eva de Maizière and the former inspector general of the Bundeswehr Ulrich de Maizière . His older brother Andreas de Maizière is a bank manager. He is also a cousin of the CDU politician Lothar de Maizière , the last Prime Minister of the GDR.

De Maizière is Protestant . He lives in Dresden , is married and has three children.

Political party

De Maizière became a member of the CDU in 1971 as a student.

In 1990, de Maizière recommended his cousin Lothar de Maizière , the first freely elected Prime Minister of the GDR, to include Angela Merkel as a press employee in his team after the Volkskammer election , to which he was then also accepted as a consultant.


De Maizière was a member of the Saxon State Parliament from 2004 until his appointment as head of the Federal Chancellery . In constituency 51 (Bautzen I) he was directly elected member of the state parliament with 47.9% of the votes. De Maizière took first place in the state list of Saxony for the 2009 Bundestag election and applied for a direct mandate in Bundestag constituency 155 (Meißen) , where he was elected with 45.2%. In the 2013 federal election he was able to increase his share of the vote to 53.6%. In the 2017 federal election , he only just won the direct mandate with 34.1% of the first votes.

In the 19th German Bundestag de Maizière is a member of the finance committee . On February 13, 2020, he was elected to succeed Uwe Feiler in the committee pursuant to Section 23c (8) of the Customs Investigation Service Act , because Feiler had become Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture . On May 12, 2020, he announced that he did not want to run for the Bundestag again.

Public offices

Thomas de Maizière as Minister of Defense (2012) during a visit to the ISAF troops in OP North

In November 1990 de Maizière was appointed State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania . From December 1994 he was head of the State Chancellery of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania under Prime Minister Berndt Seite . After the CDU left the government after the state elections in 1998, de Maizière was put into temporary retirement.

On October 26, 1999, he took over the management of the Saxon State Chancellery in the Saxon State Government led by Prime Minister Kurt Biedenkopf . On January 30, 2001, after Georg Milbradt's dismissal, he was appointed Saxon Minister of State for Finance . After Milbradt had been elected to succeed Kurt Biedenkopf as Prime Minister, de Maizière took over the management of the Saxon State Ministry of Justice on May 2, 2002 . After the state elections in 2004, he was appointed Saxon State Minister of the Interior on November 11, 2004 . In this position he was presented with files that the Organized Crime Unit (OK) at the Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution had collected on a complex of alleged involvement of representatives of the judiciary and local politicians in criminal networks (later known as the so-called " Saxon Marsh "). After examining them, he saw a threat to the free democratic basic order for granted and instructed the unit to continue the observation. However , he did not inform the parliamentary control commission of the state parliament or the public prosecutor's office because - as he later stated - he considered the density of knowledge to be too low.

Following the 2005 federal election , de Maizière was appointed Federal Minister for Special Tasks and Head of the Federal Chancellery on November 22, 2005 in the Federal Government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel ( Merkel I cabinet ). In this function, de Maizière was also the Federal Government Commissioner for the Intelligence Services . In June 2007, de Maizière's behavior in connection with the “Saxon Marsh” affair came under fire. A lawyer from Dresden filed a criminal complaint for obstruction of punishment in office . Representatives of the parliamentary groups of the FDP and the Left called on de Maizière to suspend his function as secret service coordinator.

De Maizière was directly elected to the Bundestag (constituency of Meißen) in 2009 and is currently still MP.

After the federal election in 2009 , he became Federal Minister of the Interior in the Merkel II cabinet .

On May 9, 2010, de Maizière represented the sick Federal Minister of Finance Schäuble in the deliberations in the Council for Economic Affairs and Finance on the euro crisis and the negotiations on the European stabilization mechanism in Brussels .

On March 3, 2011, Thomas de Maizière was appointed Minister of Defense as successor to the resigned Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg . In May 2011 he announced plans to downsize the Bundeswehr. During his tenure, the repeal of compulsory military service prepared by his predecessor Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was carried out. Due to the statement in February 2013 that the Bundeswehr soldiers were eager for recognition, he was accused of not standing behind the soldiers enough.

Thomas de Maizière (2013)

On December 17, 2013, he was reappointed Federal Minister of the Interior in the Merkel III cabinet .

German media reported on February 23, 2014 that 230 German politicians, decision-makers and business representatives were bugged by the US secret service, including de Maizière. For this purpose, the NSA stationed 297 employees in Germany.

Political positions, controversies and criticism

Monitoring the Internet

In August 2009, de Maizière called for stricter "rules of conduct" for the Internet. He told the Rheinische Post :

“Don't we have to protect people from denunciation, degradation or dubious business, as in civil law? Similar to the financial markets, we need traffic rules on the Internet in the medium term. Otherwise we will experience atrocities there that are beyond imagination. By the way, a lot is not only possible nationally. "

The statements met with criticism from the other parties and were rejected as "superfluous" or viewed as a preliminary step to a censorship authority. In April 2010, de Maizière declared that there shouldn't be any taboo zones in the digital world that outsiders could no longer venture into. In this context, he also explained that the state, just as it issues identity cards in the analog world , must also be able to guarantee reliable identification of individual users on the Internet. In general, however, he warned against demonizing the Internet, especially since the same laws apply there as in the real world and it is therefore not an unlawful area .

In April 2014, de Maizière announced that "the cooperation of the intelligence services of the USA, Great Britain and Germany [...] is indispensable". It must "not be damaged", not even by the committee of inquiry into the NSA affair , which is supposed to investigate the mass surveillance of German citizens by the secret services. In May 2014 he confirmed the US as "our most important security partner" and described Edward Snowden as a criminal to be extradited to the US.

In a guest article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in August 2014, de Maizière presented the “First IT Security Act” planned by the federal government to the public. He announced that the law would introduce industry-wide security standards for companies in the fields of energy , information technology , logistics and traffic , the health system , water supply , the food industry , banking and insurance industries , as well as mandatory reporting of cyberattacks . The reports must be sent to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), which is to be better equipped in terms of personnel and finances. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are also receiving more money and staff. The law presented by de Maizière was the first part of the federal government's digital agenda . Criticism of the law came from data protectionists and network activists, who recognized a new form of data retention in the regulations for recording surfing logs and the IP addresses of users in order to ward off hacker attacks by companies. The Ministry of the Interior rejected the criticism, citing the limited storage period and the lack of government access.

Homeland Security, Terrorism, and Data Retention

In November 2010, de Maizière, as Federal Minister of the Interior, issued a terror warning for Germany. He invoked “concrete investigative approaches and concrete leads” and emphasized that there was “no reason for hysteria”. At the same time he spoke out with the Chairman of the Interior Committee in the Bundestag, Wolfgang Bosbach, against exploiting this situation for tightening the law.

After the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, however, de Maizière demanded that data retention, which the Federal Constitutional Court had declared unconstitutional, be reintroduced. The Greens pointed out that the attack in France could not have been prevented despite existing data retention there. A little later, de Maizière demanded that security authorities should be enabled to view encrypted communication. This received broad rejection and massive criticism from representatives of the parties SPD and Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen , business associations (such as the Federal Association of IT-Mittelstand and the branch association Bitkom ) as well as computer and data protection associations such as the Chaos Computer Club . The association FIfF described the considerations as a “digital hara-kiri ” that “would destroy the foundations of a modern information society”.

Maizière plans to withdraw German passports from jihadists with dual citizenship. Even though the number of around 200 eligible fighters is relatively small, this would increase security.

BND affair 2015

In April 2015 it became known that the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) allegedly helped the NSA for several years to spy on both the EU Commission and the French government. The suspicion of industrial espionage - including against the EADS group  - was also expressed. Thomas de Maizière was responsible for the secret service supervision from 2005 to 2009 and is said to have known about the espionage since 2008, according to media reports. In several replies to parliamentary inquiries, the federal government had stated that there was "no knowledge of alleged industrial espionage by the NSA". The accusation was raised against de Maizière that he deliberately lied to the German Bundestag. In this context, various media and politicians called for his resignation from the office of Federal Minister of the Interior.

Foreign missions of the Bundeswehr

Even after de Maizière has withdrawn from Afghanistan, there are “ no taboos ” on new assignments abroad. Instead, de Maizière is of the opinion that “even if our immediate national security interests may not be affected at first glance”, the Bundeswehr could be deployed abroad in the future. In addition, de Maizière spoke out in August 2012 for the purchase and use of armed drones.

Shortage of spare parts in the Bundeswehr

In 2011, de Maizière, then Minister of Defense, decided that spare parts should only be bought when they are needed. Since the industry also did not keep them sufficiently in stock, this led to the discovery of serious deficiencies in the operational readiness of aircraft, helicopters and other equipment in 2018.

Committee of Inquiry into the National Socialist Underground (NSU)

In September 2012 it became known that Defense Minister de Maizière knew of the existence of a MAD file months ago . He had not passed this knowledge on to the committee of inquiry.

Euro Hawk affair

In May 2013, de Maizière ended the Bundeswehr's Euro Hawk program. The Euro Hawk was a variant of the Global Hawk drone , the sensors of which came from the European arms company EADS . The Euro Hawk was supposed to take over the complete SIGINT tasks. The Euro-Hawk program was discontinued by de Maizière because the reconnaissance drone did not have an automatic anti-collision system certified for civil aviation and therefore the EU aviation safety authority wanted to certify the drone only for flight over uninhabited areas. Only a military license would have been legally possible. The retrofitting of an anti-collision system would have cost an additional 600 million euros, according to estimates by the Air Force. The reconnaissance sensors developed are to be installed in a different type of aircraft or a drone, which has not yet been implemented (as of September 2014).

On June 5, 2013, de Maizière was questioned by the Defense Committee of the German Bundestag about the discontinuation of the program, where he stated that he had been informed in 2012 for the first time "abstract" about the approval problems and only in May 2013 about the full scope of the problems. In doing so, he stated that “decision-making at the state secretary level” had taken place, which was “wrong”. The State Secretaries Stéphane Beemelmans and Rüdiger Wolf , the Bundeswehr Inspector General Volker Wieker , the Air Force Inspector Aarne Kreuzinger-Janik and other executives in the ministry had already been informed on February 8, 2012 that the additional costs for approval for air traffic were now estimated at 600 million euros would.

In June 2013, de Maizière adhered to NATO's Global Hawk drone project with Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) for battlefield reconnaissance and surveillance, in which Germany is to contribute 480 million euros, although the same approval problems for air traffic exist there as with the euro Hawk.

On June 10, 2013, the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party announced that a committee of inquiry would be requested in the German Bundestag to clarify the allegations against de Maizière. The Euro-Hawk Committee of Inquiry began on June 26, 2013 and ended on August 26, 2013.

Refugee crisis

In connection with the refugee crisis , Frank-Jürgen Weise , the newly appointed head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) announced at the end of September 2015 that an estimated 290,000 refugees were not registered in Germany and their identity was therefore not known to the German authorities. At the end of 2015, 300,000 unprocessed applications were pending at the BAMF, a sub-authority of its ministry. On this occasion, EU Parliament President Martin Schulz and politicians from the SPD and The Greens accused him of failing to implement the Federal Government's resolutions. In this context, the media criticized a staff shortage and inadequate IT systems at the BAMF.

Refusal of sanctuary

De Maizière criticized the practice of church asylum in January 2015 . As minister responsible for the constitution , he rejected church asylum in principle and fundamentally at a meeting with Catholic bishops. One cannot override the law with religious regulations. As a Christian, he understands that churches would accept refugees "in individual cases" for reasons of mercy, but no institution could place their rights above German law. The minister drew a comparison to the Islamic Sharia , which could also "in no way stand above German laws". The Bishop of Hildesheim Norbert Trelle had previously described church asylum at a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other CDU politicians as the last resort . De Maizière's statement was criticized by the church and by others. The church president of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau , Volker Jung , called de Maizière's statements "completely inappropriate". The Saxon regional bishop Jochen Bohl said that church asylum is not a legal but a human category. The honorary chairman of the federal ecumenical working group Asylum in the Church (BAG), Wolf-Dieter Just , called de Maizière's accusation of a Christian Sharia completely wrong . Church asylum does not compete with secular law, but gives it validity. Auxiliary Bishop Ansgar Puff of Cologne said the minister was smart enough to know that “his comparison is limping”. The integration commissioner of the federal government, Aydan Özoguz , told the Ruhr Nachrichten “General criticism of church asylum will certainly not solve any problems.” The CDU member of the Bundestag Hubert Hüppe said in a picture interview that Sharia law is “the opposite of the mercy that gives church asylum The migration commission of the German Bishops' Conference presented a handout on current issues of church asylum on August 31, 2015 . Its chairman, Norbert Trelle , said that church asylum could "only ever be 'ultima ratio' to prevent threatening human rights violations". It claims “no special right vis-à-vis the state”.

Public awareness after the attacks in Paris in 2015

After the terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015 in Paris , de Maizière came under increasing public criticism after the international soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands in Hanover, scheduled for November 17, 2015, was canceled due to a bomb threat. When asked for specific information in an interview, he said, "Parts of my answer would worry the population", but without specifying it. At the same time, it was unclear whether such a specific threat actually existed. Even in retrospect, it was not known what information de Maizière had available.

Violent action by police officers against refugees in Clausnitz

In his role as Federal Minister of the Interior , on February 21, 2016, he defended the violent acts of a federal police officer against a refugee child during the rioting against refugees in Clausnitz, which took place in his neighboring constituency and were sharply criticized by the population . He commented on the events with "the police acted correctly" and he could "not recognize criticism of this police operation". An assessment of possible legal steps u. a. the federal police officers against the refugees could not be carried out from a distance.

Disturbance of de Maizière's reading in Göttingen

De Maizière came into the focus of the media again after leaving politics in October 2019 after his appearance at a reading in Göttingen was prevented by left-wing demonstrators. Members of the Fridays for Future movement are said to have participated in the protest . This led de Maizière to demand an explanation of the direction of the movement from it. At the same time, left activists at the University of Hamburg disrupted lectures by the co-founder of Alternative für Deutschland Bernd Lucke , which prompted Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to stand behind the two former politicians. He said "Trying to silence others just because they irritate your worldview is not acceptable."

Awards (excerpt)

Fonts (selection)


Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania




  • Thomas de Maizière in conversation with Stefan Braun: So that the state serves the people. About power and governance . Siedler Verlag, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-8275-0022-9 .
  • Ralf Schönfeld: Heads of the Federal Chancellery in a united Germany. Friedrich Bohl, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Thomas de Maizière in comparison (= Göttingen young research . Vol. 10). Ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-8382-0116-0 .
  • Andreas Schumann: De Maizière family. A German story . Orell Füssli publishing house, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-280-05531-1 .


  • Thomas Grimm : The de Maizières - a German-German family - ARTE - documentary, 45 min, 1999.

Web links

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Individual evidence

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  3. Permalink German National Library
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  5. Alumni of the American Council on Germany: Thomas de Maizière (1989)
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  56. ^ Christoph Hickmann: De Maizière's dubious helicopter deal. Süddeutsche Zeitung , June 26, 2013, accessed on July 15, 2013 .
  57. Asylum in Germany: 163,000 refugees in September, 290,000 not registered. In: Der Tagesspiegel . October 1, 2016, accessed March 6, 2016 .
  58. EU Parliament President accuses de Maizière of failure. In: Zeit Online . December 7, 2015, accessed March 6, 2016 .
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  62. Abuse of church asylum. In: Deutschlandfunk . February 8, 2015, accessed February 18, 2015 .
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  64. Press release 141/2015: Handout on current issues of church asylum
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  66. Confusion about the background to game cancellation. In: Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk . November 22, 2015, archived from the original on December 25, 2015 ; Retrieved January 3, 2016 .
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  68. From left-wing demonstrators: Reading of de Maizière at literary autumn prevented . ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed October 26, 2019]).
  69. FOCUS Online: "State capitulates to extremists": Left prevent De Maizière reading. Retrieved October 26, 2019 .
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