Gerhart Baum

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Gerhart Baum
Bundesminister a. D.
Baum in 2023
Federal Minister of the Interior
In office
8 June 1978 – 17 September 1982
ChancellorHelmut Schmidt
Preceded byWerner Maihofer
Succeeded byJürgen Schmude
Parliamentary Secretary of State for the Interior
In office
15 December 1972 – 8 June 1978
ChancellorHelmut Schmidt
Preceded byWolfram Dorn
Succeeded byAndreas von Schoeler
Member of the Bundestag for North Rhine–Westphalia
In office
19 November 1972 – 16 October 1994
ConstituencyState Wide Party List
Personal details
Born (1932-10-28) 28 October 1932 (age 90)
Dresden, Germany
Political partyFree Democratic Party (FDP)
Alma materUniversity of Cologne

Gerhart Rudolf Baum (born 28 October 1932) is a German politician of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and a lawyer.

Early life and education[edit]

Gerhart Baum was born to a German father and a Russian mother. His paternal ancestors, whose roots lay in Plauen in the Saxon Vogtland, originally worked as craftsmen before later generations were able to pursue academic professions. His mother was born in Moscow; her own mother was from Łódź and of Polish ethnicity and her Ukrainian-born father was originally from Kharkiv.[1] In 1917, her family had fled from Russia to Germany as a result of the October Revolution.[2] In his childhood Baum was a forced member of the Hitler Youth. After the bombing of Dresden, his mother left the city in February 1945 and fled with her three children to Lake Tegernsee in Bavaria. His father, who had fought on the Eastern Front during the war, was captured by the Soviets and later died in captivity. In 1950, Baum's family moved to Cologne.

After graduating from school in 1953, Baum studied law at the University of Cologne and subsequently worked as a lawyer.

Political career[edit]

Baum been a member of the FDP since 1954.[3]

From 1978 until 1982, Baum served as Federal Minister of the Interior in the government of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. During his time in office, he liberalized routine loyalty investigations of candidates for public‐service jobs, a controversial practice intended to control radical activity that had led to a profound and disruptive debate about the extent of democracy in West Germany.[4] In 1981, with the backing of economics minister Otto Graf Lambsdorff, he asked the German car industry to agree on goals to tighten emissions standards and cut fuel consumption on a voluntary basis.[5]

Following the collapse of the social–liberal coalition, Baum – alongside fellow FDP ministers Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Lambsdorff, and Josef Ertl – stepped down on 18 September 1982.

Life after politics[edit]

Between 2000 and 2001, Baum and two other lawyers together represented about three-quarters of the Air France Flight 4590 crash victims' families. In May 2001, they reached a monetary settlement for compensation from Air France.[6] According to people familiar with terms of the settlement, it was between $100 million and $125 million (114.1 million euros and 142.6 million euros), an extraordinarily high sum for a plane-crash settlement in Europe at the time.[7]

From 2001 to 2003, Baum served as UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan.[8][9]

In 2006, Baum presented a press freedom award to Berliner Zeitung for its resistance to an unpopular takeover by David Montgomery’s Mecom Group.[10]

In 2009, Germany's national railway company Deutsche Bahn commissioned Baum and former justice minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin with investigating allegations according to which the company had, in violation of privacy laws and corporate guidelines repeatedly and on a large scale compared personal data of its employees with those of suppliers, in a bid to uncover possible corruption.[11]

In 2016, Baum joined members of the Green Party, lawyers, a journalist and a doctor in bringing suits against Germany's 2009 antiterrorism law before the Federal Constitutional Court, arguing that covert surveillance, particularly in private homes and in the intimacy of bedrooms or bathrooms, could entangle innocent third parties. In a 6-to-2 vote, the court ruled that the antiterrorism laws were partly unconstitutional and demanded tighter control over surveillance.[12]

In 2022, shortly before the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Munich massacre, Dutch lawyers Carry and Alexander Knoops asked Baum to intervene in the negotiations between the victims’ families and the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which eventually resulted in a compensation offer totalling 28 million euros ($28 million).[13][14]

Other activities[edit]

  • Kunststiftung NRW, member of the board of trustees
  • Stiftung Menschenrechte, member of the council[15]
  • Green Helmets, Member of the Board of Trustees[16]
  • Theodor Heuss Foundation, member of the board of trustees
  • United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN), member of the presidium[17]
  • Stichting Volkswagen Car Claim, president of the advisory board[18]


Selected works[edit]

  • Die Finanzkrise und ihre Folgen für die Bevölkerung. Anforderungen an einen verbesserten Verbraucherschutz, in: Hecht, Janina; Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y., eds. (2011). Herausforderung Demokratie. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co KG. doi:10.5771/9783845232539. ISBN 978-3-8452-3253-9.
  • Die Grundrechte im Spannungsverhältnis von Sicherheit und Freiheit, in: Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y., ed. (2009). 60 Jahre Grundgesetz. Nomos. doi:10.5771/9783845220345. ISBN 978-3-8452-2034-5.


  1. ^ Hirsch, Burkhard (2016). Der Baum und der Hirsch. Ullstein Ebooks. pp. 14–15. ISBN 9783843713115.
  2. ^ "Die mussten Mut haben". 18 August 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  3. ^ Baum, Gerhart (15 May 2021). "Eine Villa am See – dort erwarteten wir die Amerikaner". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  4. ^ John Vicocur (19 January 1979), Bonn Eases Loyalty Checks for National Employment The New York Times.
  5. ^ John Tagliabue (25 August 1981), Auto Exhaust Standard is Disputed in Germany The New York Times.
  6. ^ Germans Reach Deal In Concorde Crash The New York Times, 14 May 2001.
  7. ^ Daniel Michaels (15 May 2001), Relatives of Concorde Victims Accept Monetary Settlement: Airlines, Insurers May Pay As Much as $125 Million The Wall Street Journal.
  8. ^ Situation of human rights in the Sudan United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur, Gerhart Baum, submitted in accordance with Commission resolution 2001/18.
  9. ^ UN Human rights rapporteur in Sudan BBC News, 11 March 2001.
  10. ^ Katy Duke (4 May 2006), German paper hailed for fighting Montgomery takeover The Guardian.
  11. ^ Susanne Amann (14 May 2009), Repairing Spying Scandal Damage: New Era of Openness Dawns at Deutsche Bahn Der Spiegel.
  12. ^ Alison Smale (20 April 2016), German Court Rules Antiterrorism Laws Partly Unconstitutional The New York Times.
  13. ^ Yossi Melman (5 September 2022), How Germany Put Families of Munich Olympics Victims Through Their Own Ordeal Haaretz.
  14. ^ Miranda Murray (2 September 2022), Germany agrees to $28 mln in compensation for families of Munich Olympics victims Reuters.
  15. ^ Stiftungsrat Stiftung Menschenrechte.
  16. ^ Board of Trustees Green Helmets.
  17. ^ "Präsidium". Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen e.V. (in German). Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  18. ^ Corso, Ivana Dal (5 March 2018). "VW lehnt Gleichbehandlung europäischer Kunden ab". Baum Reiter & Collegen (in German). Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  19. ^ "Rede: Ordensverleihung an Gerhart Baum". Der Bundespräsident (in German). Retrieved 19 July 2023.