List of German presidents

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A number of presidential offices have existed in Germany since the collapse of the German Empire in 1918.

The Weimar constitution of August 1919 created the office of President of Germany (German: Reichspräsident). Upon the death of Paul von Hindenburg in August 1934 the office was left vacant, with Adolf Hitler becoming head of state as Führer und Reichskanzler. In April–May 1945, Karl Dönitz briefly became President upon the suicide of Hitler (in accordance with last will and testament of Hitler).

The West German constitution (Grundgesetz, Basic Law) of May 1949 created the office of President of the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundespräsident). Since the German reunification in 1990 the President has been the head of state for all of Germany.

The East German constitution of October 1949 created the office of President of the German Democratic Republic (German: Präsident der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, DDR). Upon the death of Wilhelm Pieck in 1960, the office of Präsident der DDR was abolished and replaced by a collective head of state, the Staatsrat ("State Council"). The Staatsrat was abolished by a constitutional amendment of the Volkskammer ("People's Chamber") on 5 April 1990. From then until the GDR joined the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990, the president of the Volkskammer also served as the GDR head of state.

Weimar Republic (1919–1933)

† denotes people who died in office.

Reichspräsident Took office Left office Time in office Party Election
1
Friedrich Ebert
Ebert, FriedrichFriedrich Ebert
(1871–1925)
11 February 1919 28 February 1925 † 6 years, 17 days SPD 1919
-
Hans Luther
Luther, HansHans Luther
(1879–1962)
Acting
[A]
28 February 1925 12 March 1925 12 days Nonpartisan
-
Walter Simons
Simons, WalterWalter Simons
(1861–1937)
Acting
[B]
12 March 1925 12 May 1925 61 days Nonpartisan
2
Paul von Hindenburg
Hindenburg, PaulGeneralfeldmarschall
Paul von Hindenburg
(1847–1934)
12 May 1925 2 August 1934 † 9 years, 82 days Nonpartisan 1925
1932

A Acting President, as Chancellor of Germany.

B Acting President, as President of the Reichsgericht.

Nazi Germany (1933–1945)

† denotes people who died in office.

Reichspräsident Took office Left office Time in office Party Election
2
Paul von Hindenburg
Hindenburg, PaulGeneralfeldmarschall
Paul von Hindenburg
(1847–1934)
Reichspräsident
12 May 1925 2 August 1934 † 9 years, 82 days Nonpartisan 1925
1932
Adolf Hitler
Hitler, AdolfAdolf Hitler
(1889–1945)
Führer und Reichskanzler
2 August 1934 30 April 1945 † 10 years, 271 days NSDAP 1934
(referendum)
Karl Dönitz
Dönitz, KarlGroßadmiral
Karl Dönitz
(1891–1980)
Reichspräsident
30 April 1945 23 May 1945 23 days NSDAP

German Democratic Republic (1949–1990)

† denotes people who died in office.

President of the Republic (Präsident der Republik)

Präsident der Republik Took office Left office Time in office Party Election
Johannes Dieckmann
Dieckmann, JohannesJohannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
Acting
[D]
7 October 1949 11 October 1949 4 days LDPD
1
Wilhelm Pieck
Pieck, WilhelmWilhelm Pieck
(1876–1960)
11 October 1949 7 September 1960 † 10 years, 332 days SED 1949
1953
1957
Johannes Dieckmann
Dieckmann, JohannesJohannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
Acting
[D]
7 September 1960 12 September 1960 5 days LDPD

Chairman of the State Council (Vorsitzender des Staatsrats)

Vorsitzender Took office Left office Time in office Party
1
Walter Ulbricht
Ulbricht, WalterWalter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
12 September 1960 1 August 1973 † 12 years, 323 days SED
Friedrich Ebert Jr.
Ebert, FriedrichFriedrich Ebert Jr.
(1894–1979)
Acting
[E]
1 August 1973 3 October 1973 63 days SED
2
Willi Stoph
Stoph, WilliWilli Stoph
(1914–1999)
3 October 1973 29 October 1976 3 years, 26 days SED
3
Erich Honecker
Honecker, ErichErich Honecker
(1912–1994)
29 October 1976 18 October 1989
(resigned)
12 years, 354 days SED
4
Egon Krenz
Krenz, EgonEgon Krenz
(born 1937)
18 October 1989 6 December 1989
(resigned)
49 days SED
5
Manfred Gerlach
Gerlach, ManfredManfred Gerlach
(1928–2011)
6 December 1989 5 April 1990
(office abolished)
120 days LDPD
Sabine Bergmann-Pohl
Gerlach, ManfredSabine Bergmann-Pohl
(born 1946)
Acting
[F]
5 April 1990 2 October 1990
(office abolished)
180 days CDU

D Acting President, as President of the People's Chamber.

E Acting Chairman of the State Council, as Deputy Chairman of the State Council.

F Acting head of state, as President of the People's Chamber.

Federal Republic of Germany (from 1949)

Bundespräsident Took office Left office Time in office Party Election
Karl Arnold
Arnold, KarlKarl Arnold
(1901–1958)
Acting
[C]
7 September 1949 12 September 1949 5 days CDU
1
Theodor Heuss
Heuss, TheodorTheodor Heuss
(1884–1963)
13 September 1949 12 September 1959 9 years, 364 days FDP 1949
1954
2
Heinrich Lübke
Lübke, HeinrichHeinrich Lübke
(1894–1972)
13 September 1959 30 June 1969
(resigned)
9 years, 290 days CDU 1959
1964
3
Gustav Heinemann
Heinemann, GustavGustav Heinemann
(1899–1976)
1 July 1969 30 June 1974 4 years, 364 days SPD 1969
4
Walter Scheel
Scheel, WalterWalter Scheel
(1919–2016)
1 July 1974 30 June 1979 4 years, 364 days FDP 1974
5
Karl Carstens
Carstens, KarlKarl Carstens
(1914–1992)
1 July 1979 30 June 1984 4 years, 365 days CDU 1979
6
Richard von Weizsäcker
Weizsäcker, RichardRichard von Weizsäcker
(1920–2015)
1 July 1984 30 June 1994 9 years, 364 days CDU 1984
1989
7
Roman Herzog
Herzog, RomanRoman Herzog
(1934–2017)
1 July 1994 30 June 1999 4 years, 364 days CDU 1994
8
Johannes Rau
Rau, JohannesJohannes Rau
(1931–2006)
1 July 1999 30 June 2004 4 years, 365 days SPD 1999
9
Horst Köhler
Köhler, HorstHorst Köhler
(born 1943)
1 July 2004 31 May 2010
(resigned)
5 years, 334 days CDU 2004
2009
Jens Böhrnsen
Böhrnsen, JensJens Böhrnsen
(born 1949)
Acting
[C]
31 May 2010 30 June 2010 30 days SPD
10
Christian Wulff
Wulff, ChristianChristian Wulff
(born 1959)
30 June 2010 17 February 2012
(resigned)
1 year, 232 days CDU 2010
Horst Seehofer
Seehofer, HorstHorst Seehofer
(born 1949)
Acting
[C]
17 February 2012 18 March 2012 30 days CSU
11
Joachim Gauck
Gauck, JoachimJoachim Gauck
(born 1940)
18 March 2012 18 March 2017 5 years, 0 days Independent 2012
12
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Steinmeier, FrankFrank-Walter Steinmeier
(born 1956)
18 March 2017 Incumbent 1 year, 248 days SPD 2017

C Acting President, as President of the Bundesrat.

See also

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