Horst Ehmke

Horst Ehmke

Horst Ehmke in 1973
Federal Minister of Justice
In office
26 March 1969  22 October 1969
Preceded by Gustav Heinemann
Succeeded by Gerhard Jahn
Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery
In office
22 October 1969  15 December 1972
Preceded by Karl Carstens
Succeeded by Horst Grabert
Federal Minister of Research, Technology, and Post
In office
15 December 1972  7 May 1974
Preceded by Lauritz Lauritzen
Succeeded by Kurt Gscheidle
Personal details
Born (1927-02-04) 4 February 1927
Free City of Danzig
Political party SPD
Occupation Professor of law

Horst Paul August Ehmke (born 4 February 1927) is a German lawyer, law professor and politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). He served as Federal Minister of Justice (1969), Chief of Staff at the German Chancellery and Federal Minister for Special Affairs (1969–1972) and Federal Minister for Research, Technology, and Post (1972–1974).


Ehmke was born in the Free City of Danzig, where he passed his Abitur.[1] In 1944, at the age of 17, Ehmke was enrolled as a member of the Nazi Party, although when this became public knowledge in 2007 as part of a media investigation of Nazi archives, he stated that he had made no application and was previously unaware of the enrollment.[2][3] Following the Expulsion of Germans after World War II he came as a refugee to western Germany. He studied Law and Economics in Göttingen and Political science and History at Princeton University (U.S.) from 1949 to 1950. In 1952, he promoted as Dr. iur., and in 1956, he passed his final examinations. In these years, he was the assistant of Adolf Arndt, member of the Bundestag (SPD).

From 1956 to 1960, Ehmke became a member of the Ford Foundation in Cologne and Berkeley. After passing his Habilitation in 1960, he became Professor of public law at the University of Freiburg, where he became the Dean.[1] From 1963 on, Ehmke was ordinary Professor and held the chair of Law at this university. Since 1974, he is accredited as a lawyer.

Ehmke is married and has three children.

Political career

Chief of Staff Horst Ehmke greeting Senator Ted Kennedy in Bonn, April 1971

Since 1947, Ehmke has been a member of the SPD, where he was a member of the executive board from 1973 to 1991. He was a member of the Bundestag from 1969 to 1994 for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Here, he was deputy whip of the SPD faction from 1977 to 1990.

Ehmke was Federal Minister of Justice from to March to October 1969 before becoming Chief of Staff at the German Chancellery from 1969 to 1972 under Chancellor Willy Brandt, being simultaneously the Federal Minister for Special Affairs.[1] After the West German federal election, 1972 he moved to become Federal Minister for Research, Technology and Post, until he was replaced in May 1974 by Hans Matthöfer.[1][4]


After retiring, Ehmke also wrote detective stories revolving around politics:


  1. 1 2 3 4 Der Spiegel, 4 February 2007, Der flotte Hotte sah sich als kommenden exzellenten Kanzler
  2. Die Welt, 14 July 2007, Weitere Prominente in der Nazi-Kartei
  3. Der Spiegel, 16 July 2007, Hoffnungslos dazwischen
  4. The ministry subsequently was split into the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Germany) and the Federal Ministry for Post and Communications (Germany).

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