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Foreign Office of Germany

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Foreign Office
Auswärtiges Amt
Agency overview
Formed1870, Reichsauswärtigesamt
JurisdictionGovernment of Germany
Minister responsible

The traditional name of the ministry handling Germany's foreign affairs is the Foreign Office or AA (German: Auswärtige Amt). It is responsible for the foreign policy as well as the German EU politics. It is led by the federal Minister for Foreign Affairs (German: Bundesminister des Auswärtigen)

Auswärtiges Amt[change | change source]

The old Reichsbank and the new buildings

The Foreign Office is part of the foreign service of Germany. The other part is the parts of the other agencies of the federal government based abroad.

The Foreign Office handles contact between Germany and other countries or international organisations such as the United Nations. This included trying to get a permanent seat in the Security Council of the United Nations as part of the proposed 2005 UN reforms. The Foreign Office is near the old DDR Foreign Ministry in Berlin. The big old building in the Werderschen Markt became the Reichbanks headquarters in 1940 and from 1959 the central committee headquarters of the SED. The Foreign Office has a "second headquarters" on Adenauerallee in Bonn.

Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) has been Foreign Minister since January 2017.

Organisation[change | change source]

There are German embassies and consulates or consulates-general in most capitals of the world as well as in larger towns of the countries.

The Berlin headquarters job is to coordinate German diplomacy, and study the information passed on from the embassies, permanent representations and consulates. These are the "eyes, ears and voice" of the Federal Government abroad.

The Foreign Office has 145 embassies, 59 consulates general, twelve permanent representations (at international organisations) and ten offices abroad.

There are also three "German Information Centres (GIC)" with the job of giving information about Germany and the German language.

The biggest GIC is in Washington, DC, after it moved from New York in 2003. A GIC in Cairo is for the Arabic speaking world. The other GIC is in Paris, for French speaking areas

There are also 356 honorary consuls. These are often German businessmen who do some work for the Foreign Office.

Bonn[change | change source]

The Bonn office handles information technology particularly. Every German agency abroad is connected to Bonn, which can send the information to Berlin. The Bonn office also arranges communications for the Foreign Minister and the Chancellorwhen they are abroad.

Problems[change | change source]

Some people say that there is corruption in the way senir jobs are filled.

This is because the Foreign Office does not publish the qualifications of its top diplomats anymore. They stopped after terrorists used the information to attack the German embassy in Stockholm in 1975 and the RAF murdered diplomat Gerold von Braunmühl in 1986.

History[change | change source]

North German Confederation[change | change source]

The Foreign Office started in 1870 as a part of the North German Confederation. It was headed by a permanent secretary, just like the Foreign Office of the German empire. There were ministers only since 1919. This was why it was called an Office not a ministry .

German Empire (1871-1918)[change | change source]

The Foreign Office of the German Empire was based in Berlin Wilhelmstraße 76.

The empire tookover the Foreign Office of the North German alliance unchanged. However the German federal states kept a considerable degree of independence in their own foreign policy.

The AA had two departments

Department I[change | change source]

Higher politics, personnel, ceremonies, budgets, registeration of the schools and churches. The head of this department was a permanent secretary who was also the permanent representative of the German Chancellor in the Foreign Office at the same time. The German Chancellor had the topmost responsibility in foreign policy.

Department II[change | change source]

The second department was responsible for trade, traffic, consulates, national law, civil law, the art and science, the private matters of Germans abroad, also, justice, police and Post Office, emigration, ship matters. This department was headed by the director of the Foreign Office.

Other departments[change | change source]

Legal matters were transferred to the new Department III in 1885. A colonial department was formed in 1890, it became the Imperial Colonial Office in 1907. Department IV was formed in 1915 to handle intelligence.

Directors of the colonial department
No Name Start of term End of term
1 Friedrich Richard Krauel 1890 1890
2 Paul Kayser 1890 1896
3 Oswald Freiherr von Richthofen 1896 1898
4 Gerhard von Buchka 1898 1900
5 Oscar Wilhelm Stüberl 1900 1905
6 Ernst Fürst von Hohenlohe-Langenberg 1905 1906
7 Bernhard Dernburg 1906 1907

Weimar Republic 1919-1933[change | change source]

The Foreign Office became a ministry in the Weimar Republic, headed by a Reich Minister. The permanent secretary no longerThe minister had the sole responsibility for the foreign policy now. The name "Foreign Office" was kept, out of tradition. Gustav Stresemann was the most famous foreign minister of this time, and moulded German foreign policy just like Bismarck had done during the empire.

The Third Reich 1933-1945[change | change source]

When the Nazis seized power the Foreign Office started following Nazi Party ideas. However, there was some resistance, especially from people like Adam von Trott zu Solz and Ulrich von Hassell.

The Foreign Office wrote a formal letter about the Jews and foreign policy in 1939: It said that giving the Jews a homeland in Palestine was dangerous to world peace. This note is a big reason why the second set of Nuremberg Trials included officials from the Foreign Office.

Also see: Fritz Kolbe, Kurt Georg Kiessinger

After the Second World War Germany stayed under allied control, at least in part, until 1955. This meant that there was no need for a Foreign Office until 1951, when the new Germany got more control overs its own affairs.

Federal Republic of Germany[change | change source]

The new Foreign Office was set up on March 15th, 1951 in Bonn and kept the name of "Office".

Many of the senior officials of the AA were ex nazis. in fact More ex party members were in charge parts of the Foreign Office than there were party members doing the same type of job during the Third Reich.

Since 1966 the Foreign Minister has often been the leader of the smaller coalition partner in coalition governments. The exceptions were the vice-chancellorships of Jürgen Möllemann and Franz Müntefering.

German Democratic Republic[change | change source]

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs handled the foreign policy of the government of the DDR.

Foreign Ministers[change | change source]

Außenstaatssekretäre 1871 - 1919
No Name Term start Term end
1 Hermann von Thile 1871 1872
2 Hermann Ludwig von Balan1 1872 1873
3 Bernhard Ernst von Bülow 1873 1879
4 Josef Maria von Radowitz1 1879 1880
5 Chlodwig Fürst zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst1 1880 1880
6 Friedrich Graf zu Limburg-Stirum1 1880 1881
7 Clemens Busch1 1881 1881
8 Paul Graf von Hatzfeld zu Trachenberg 1881 1885
9 Herbert Fürst von Bismarck2 1885 1890
10 Adolf Freiherr Marschall von Beiberstein 1890 1897
11 Bernhard Fürst von Bülow 1897 1900
12 Oswald Freiherr Richthofen 1900 1906
13 Heinrich Leonhard von Tschirschky und Bögendorff 1906 , 1907
14 Wilhelm Freiherr von Schoen 1907 1910
15 Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter 1910 1912
16 Gottlieb von Jagow 1913 1916
17 Arthur Zimmermann 1916 1917
18 Richard von Kühlman 1917 1918
19 Paul von Hintze 1918 1918
20 Wilhelm Heinrich Solf 1918 1918
21 Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau 1918 1919
1 acting
2 acting until 17 May 1886
Reichsminister des Auswärtigen 1919 - 1945
No Name Term start Term end Party
1 Ulrich Graf von Brockdorff-Rantzau 13 February 1919 21 June 1919 Independent
2 Hermann Müller (SPD) 21 June 1919 26 March 1920 SPD
3 Adolf Klöster 10 April 1920 8 June 1920 SPD
4 Walter Simons 25 June 1920 4 May 1921 Independent
5 Friedrich Rosen 10 May 1921 22 October 1921 Independent
6 Joseph Wirth 26 October 1921 31 January 1922 Centre
7 Walther Rathenau 1 February 1922 24 June 1922 DDP
8 Joseph Wirth 24 June 1922 14 November 1922 Centre
9 Friedrich von Rosenberg 22 November 1922 11 August 1923 Independent
10 Gustav Stresemann 13 August 1923 3 October 1929 DVP
11 Julius Curtis 4 October 1929 9 October 1931 DVP
12 Heinrich Brüning 9 October 1931 30 May 1932 Centre
13 Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath 1 June 1932 4 February 1938 NSDAP(from 1937)
14 Joachim von Ribbentrop 4 February 1938 1 May 1945 NSDAP
15 Arthur Seyß-Inquart 1 May 1945 2 May 1945 NSDAP
16 Johann Ludwig Graf Schwerin von Krosigk 2 May 1945 23 May 1945 Independent
Minister für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten der DDR 1949 - 1990
No Name Life data Term start Term end Party
1 Georg Dertinger 1902-1968 12 October 1949 15 January 1953 CDU
2 Anton Ackermann1 1905-1973 15 January 1953 July 1953 SED
3 Lothar Bolz 1903-1986 July 1953 24 June 1965 NDPD
4 Otto Winzer 1902-1975 24 June 1965 20 January 1975 SED
5 Oskar Fischer 1923- 3 March 1975 12 April 1990 SED
6 Markus Meckel 1952- 12 April 1990 20 August 1990 SPD
7 Lothar de Maizière2 1940- 20 August 1990 2 October 1990 CDU
1 Acting
2 Jointly as prime minister of the DDR
Bundesminister des Auswärtigen seit 1951
No Name Life data Term start Term end Party
1 Konrad Adenauer1 1876-1967 15 March 1951 6 June 1955 CDU
2 Heinrich von Brentano 1904-1964 6 June 1955 17 October 1961 CDU
3 Gerhard Schröder 1910-1989 14 November 1961 30 November 1966 CDU
4 Willy Brandt 1913-1992 1 December 1966 20 October 1969 SPD
5 Walter Scheel 1919-2016 21 October 1969 15 May 1974 FDP
6 Hans-Dietrich Genscher 1927-2016 17 May 1974 17 September 1982 FDP
7 Helmut Schmidt1 1918-2015 17 September 1982 4 October 1982 SPD
8 Hans-Dietrich Genscher 1927-2016 4 October 1982 17 May 1992 FDP
9 Klaus Kinkel 1936- 18 May 1992 26 October 1998 FDP
10 Joschka Fischer 1948- 27 October 1998 22 November 2005 Green
11 Frank-Walter Steinmeier 1956- 22 November 2005 27 October 2009 SPD
12 Guido Westerwelle 1961-2016 28 October 2009 17 December 2013 FDP
13 Frank-Walter Steinmeier 1956- 17 December 2013 27 January 2017 SPD
14 Sigmar Gabriel 1959- 27 January 2017 14 March 2018 SPD
15 Heiko Maas 1966- 14 March 2018 8 December 2021 SPD
16 Annalena Baerbock 1980- 8 December 2021 Present Green
1 Jointly as Chancellor of the Federal Republic

Two Chancellors also Foreign Minister. Konrad Adenauer as the first Foreign Secretary of the Federal Republic of Germany and Helmut Schmidt, after FDP had left coalition and cabinet. Hans-Dietrich Genscher was Foreign Minister under both an SPD and a CDU chancellor.

Spies of the DDR Ministry of State Security ("Stasi")[change | change source]

Name Year joined BRD Foreign Ministry Year recruited by Stasi Assumed name
Christine Bauer 1986 Jasmina
Helge Berger
Hagen Blau 1961 1960 Detlef, Merten
Herbert Kemper
Ruth Kemper
Reiner Müller
Ludwig Pauli Adler
Lilli Pöttrich 1983 1976 Angelika
Gisela von Raussendorff Blume
Klaus von Raussendorff 1957 Brede
Karl-Heinz Rode Maro

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]