Gerhard Schröder Biography

(Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005)

Birthday: April 7, 1944 (Aries)

Born In: Blomberg, Free State of Lippe, Nazi Germany

German lobbyist and former politician Gerhard Schröder was the Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005, having been re-elected once. The former Social Democratic Party member was born in Nazi Germany and lost his father to World War II. He initially worked odd jobs and struggled to qualify for the University of Göttingen, from where he eventually obtained a law degree. After practicing law for a while, he stepped into politics as a Bundestag member. He subsequently became the Leader of the Opposition in the Landtag of Lower Saxony, the President of the Bundesrat, the Minister-President of Lower Saxony, and the Leader of the Social Democratic Party. As a chancellor, he was against the Iraq War but failed to improve the economic scenario of Germany. He is also known for his five marriages and for his controversial association with Russian-owned oil companies.

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Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In April

Also Known As: Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder

Age: 78 Years, 78 Year Old Males

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: So-yeon Schröder-Kim (m. 2018), Eva Schubach ​ ​ (m. 1968–1972)​ Anne Taschenmacher ​ ​

father: Fritz Schröder

mother: Erika Schröder

siblings: Lothar Vosseler

children: Gregor Schröder, Klara Kuntze, Viktoria Schröder

Born Country: Germany

Political Leaders German Men

More Facts

education: University of Göttingen

awards: German Media Award
Quadriga
Grand Order of Queen Jelena

Honorary citizenship
Russian Academy of Sciences
Order of the Star of Romania
Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana
Doctor honoris causa
Doctor honoris causa
Doctor honoris causa
Doctor honoris causa
Order of the White Eagle
Order of Isabella the Catholic‎
Lower Saxony honorary medal

Childhood, Early Life & Education

Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder, also known as Gerd Schröder, was born on April 7, 1944 in Mossenberg, Free State of Lippe, Nazi Germany (modern-day Blomberg, North Rhine-Westphalia), Germany. Unfortunately, he never met his father, Fritz Schröder, a Wehrmacht lance corporal, who died fighting for the Nazis in World War II in October 1944, when Schröder was just 6 months old.

His mother, Erika (née Vosseler), was an agricultural laborer who worked hard to support her family, which then consisted of her and her two sons. From 1958 to 1961, Schröder worked as a retail sales apprentice. He then worked as a sales clerk and attended night school for a common university entrance exam.

He could skip military service, as his father had lost his life in the war. In 1966, Schröder passed the entrance exam and joined the University of Göttingen. He studied law there till 1971.

At 19, Schröder joined the Social Democrats. While he was studying law, he witnessed the 1968 students’ rebellion. He passed his second law examination in 1976, following which, he worked as a lawyer till 1990.

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Early Career in Politics

After practicing law in Hannover, Gerhard Schröder was named to the Bundestag (the lower house of the German parliament) in 1980. He served in the post till 1986, after losing an election for the premier of Lower Saxony.

He became a leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and thus became the Leader of the Opposition in the Landtag of Lower Saxony in July 1986. He served in the position till June 1990.

In June 1990, he was elected as the President of the Bundesrat. His party (SPD) formed a coalition with the leftist environmentalist party known as the Greens, forming a Red-Green coalition government till 1994, when the SPD won by a clear majority.

From 1994 to 1998, he served as the Chairman of Lower Saxonian SDPD. He was also the Minister President of the West German Federal State Lower Saxony from 1990 to 1998.

As the Chancellor of Germany

Gerhard Schröder’s promising performance in the March 1998 state elections got him a nomination as his party’s candidate for the federal chancellor. In October 1998, he led the SPD to a victory and created a coalition government with the Greens.

He thus took over as the Chancellor of Germany on October 27, 1998 and continued in the position till November 22, 2005. He also scripted history as the only German chancellor who hailed from a village.

As the chancellor, Schröder focused on promoting European integration, reducing the unemployment rate of Germany, limiting nuclear power usage in energy production, and working toward the economic reorganization of eastern Germany. He also eased the German citizenship laws and allowed children of foreign parents to hold dual nationality and to choose their nationality after becoming adults.

He stationed German troops in Kosovo in 1999 and in Afghanistan in 2001. Though he could not improve Germany’s economic crisis and unemployment issue, in 2002, he was re-elected as the chancellor.

His second term as the chancellor was initially dominated by a diplomatic disagreement among the United Nations (UN) Security Council members (which included Germany) over the UN initiative to ensure disarmament of Iraq (in terms of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons). In November 2002, Germany backed a Security Council resolution for the return to Iraq of weapons inspectors, who were withdrawn in 1998. In December that year, American President George W. Bush claimed Iraq had not cooperated with the weapons inspectors.

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Later, when the UK, the US, and Spain launched another resolution that authorized use of military force against Iraq, Gerhard Schröder, French President Jacques Chirac, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, opposed it. This disagreement caused cracks in the German-American ties. In March 2003, the US and the UK launched an attack on Iraq, but Schröder publicly opposed the campaign.

Germany’s economy further deteriorated. In 2003, Schröder announced major economic reforms, including cuts in Germany’s welfare system. The changes were not accepted by people, the unions were strongly against them.

In 2004, Schröder resigned from the party leadership. The SPD had a poor show in the 2005 regional elections, which made Schröder declare an early general election. In the election that followed, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union won by a narrow margin but did not score a clear majority.

After a lot of negotiations, a coalition government was formed, and Angela Merkel of the CDU was named the chancellor. Though asked to hold a cabinet position in the new government, Schröder declined it.

Post-Retirement Career

In December 2005, shortly after Gerhard Schröder left office as the chancellor of Germany, he was reportedly contacted by his friend, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, asking him to lead the shareholder committee of Nord Stream, a Russian-controlled company that was building the first under-sea gas pipeline connecting Russia and Germany directly. He grabbed the offer, but was highly criticized by the German media.

Since 2017, he has also led the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft, earning around $600,000 a year for the job, over and above his monthly $9,000 government stipend as the former chancellor.

In early March 2022, a week into the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Schröder was reportedly contacted by a Swiss media channel, Ringier, and asked if he would like to mediate between Ukraine and Russia. The initiative eventually failed.

Over the years, he has been associated with various organizations, such as the Berggruen Institute, the Bundesliga Foundation, the German Cancer Research Center, and the Wilhelm Busch Museum. He has also been on the boards of companies such as the China Investment Corporation (CIC), N. M. Rothschild & Sons, and Herrenknecht.

Personal Life

Gerhard Schröder has married five times. He was married to Eva Schubach from 1968 to 1972. He then married Anne Taschenmacher in 1972, but they divorced in 1984.


In 1984, he married Hiltrud "Hillu" Hampel, but they divorced in 1997. He then got married to Doris Köpf in October 1997. Doris had a daughter from another relationship, Klara (born 1991), whom Schröder adopted.

In July 2004, they adopted a 3-year-old girl from Saint Petersburg, named Viktoria. Two years later, they adopted another child, Gregor, from the same city. They divorced in April 2018. Finally, in May 2018, he married his fifth wife, Kim So-Yeon, a Korean economist and interpreter.

He is part of the Evangelical Church in Germany. Schröder is also a prominent art lover.

Other Achievements

He has received numerous national and international awards and honors, such as the Grand Cross 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and countless honorary degrees.

In October 2006, he published his autobiography Entscheidungen.

See the events in life of Gerhard Schröder in Chronological Order

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- Gerhard Schröder Biography
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