Klaus Kinkel

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Klaus Kinkel
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F063645-0024, Pullach, Besuch Carstens beim BND.jpg
Kinkel as President of the Federal Intelligence Service in 1982
Vice-Chancellor of Germany
In office
21 January 1993 – 26 October 1998
ChancellorHelmut Kohl
Preceded byJürgen Möllemann
Succeeded byJoschka Fischer
Leader of the Free Democratic Party
In office
11 June 1993 – 10 June 1995
Preceded byOtto Graf Lambsdorff
Succeeded byWolfgang Gerhardt
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
18 May 1992 – 26 October 1998
ChancellorHelmut Kohl
Preceded byHans-Dietrich Genscher
Succeeded byJoschka Fischer
Minister of Justice
In office
18 January 1991 – 18 May 1992
ChancellorHelmut Kohl
Preceded byHans A. Engelhard
Succeeded bySabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
President of the Federal Intelligence Service
In office
1 January 1979 – 26 December 1982
ChancellorHelmut Schmidt
Helmut Kohl
Preceded byGerhard Wessel
Succeeded byEberhard Blum
Member of the Bundestag
for North Rhine-Westphalia
In office
10 November 1994 – 17 October 2002
Preceded bymulti-member district
Succeeded bymulti-member district
ConstituencyFDP List
Personal details
Born(1936-12-17)17 December 1936
Metzingen, Nazi Germany
Died4 March 2019(2019-03-04) (aged 82)
Sankt Augustin, Germany
Political partyFree Democratic Party (1991–2019)
Ursula Kinkel
(m. 1962)
ResidenceSankt Augustin
Alma materUniversity of Tübingen (no degree)
University of Bonn
University of Cologne (Dr. iur.)
  • Politician
  • Lawyer
  • Civil Servant

Klaus Kinkel (17 December 1936 – 4 March 2019)[1] was a German statesman, civil servant, diplomat and lawyer who served as the minister of Foreign affairs (1992–1998) and the vice-chancellor of Germany (1993–1998) in the government of Helmut Kohl.

Kinkel was a career civil servant and a longtime aide to Hans-Dietrich Genscher, and served as his personal secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior from 1970 and in senior roles in the Foreign Office from 1974. He was President of Federal Intelligence Service from 1979 to 1982 and a state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice from 1982 to 1991. In 1991 he was appointed as the Federal Minister of Justice and joined the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) shortly after. In 1992 he became Foreign Minister, and in 1993 he also became the Vice Chancellor of Germany and the leader of the Free Democratic Party. He left the government in 1998 following its electoral defeat. Kinkel was a member of the Bundestag from 1994 to 2002, and was later active as a lawyer and philanthropist.

During his brief tenure as Minister of Justice he pressed for the extradition and criminal prosecution of deposed East German dictator Erich Honecker and sought to end the left-wing terrorism of the Red Army Faction. As Foreign Minister he is regarded as one of the most influential European politicians of the 1990s. He personified an "assertive foreign policy", increased Germany's peacekeeping engagements overseas, was at the forefront among Western leaders of building a relationship with Boris Yeltsin's newly democratic Russian Federation and pressed for Germany to be given a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. He also championed the Maastricht Treaty, the merging of the Western European Union with the EU to give the EU an independent military capability and the expansion of the EU.[2] Kinkel played a central role in the efforts to resolve the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, and proposed the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.[3]


Kinkel was born in Metzingen, Baden-Württemberg, into a Catholic family, and grew up mostly in Hechingen, where his father Ludwig Leonhard Kinkel practised as a medical doctor and internist. His father was President of the local tennis club, and Klaus Kinkel was an able tennis player in his youth. He took his Abitur at the Staatliches Gymnasium Hechingen in 1956 and first studied medicine, then law at the universities of Tübingen and Bonn.[4] He joined A.V. Guestfalia Tübingen, a Catholic student fraternity that is a member of the Cartellverband. Kinkel took his first juristic state exam at Tübingen, the second in Stuttgart and earned a doctorate of law in 1964 in Cologne.[4]

Career as a civil servant[edit]

In 1965, Kinkel began work at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, concentrating on the security of the civilian population (ziviler Bevölkerungsschutz).[4] He was sent to the Landratsamt in Balingen, Baden-Württemberg until 1966. He returned to the national ministry in 1968.[4] He was personal secretary and speechwriter for the Federal Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, from 1970 to 1974,[1] and eventually the head of the minister's office. After Genscher was appointed Foreign Minister in 1974, Kinkel held senior positions in the Federal Foreign Office, as head of the Leitungsstab and the policy planning staff (Planungsstab).[1]

President of the Federal Intelligence Service[edit]

From 1979 to 1982 he was president of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND).[1] He is credited with "quietly and competently" restoring confidence in the BND after a series of scandal in the preceding years. He also expanded the BND's intelligence-gathering outside of Europe.[2]

State secretary[edit]

From 1982 to 1991, Kinkel was a state secretary (Staatssekretär) in the Federal Ministry of Justice.[5]

Political career[edit]

Federal Minister of Justice[edit]

Kinkel was Federal Minister of Justice from 18 January 1991 to 18 May 1992.[1] Among other achievements, he took the lead in pressing for the return of Erich Honecker, the former East German leader, to face trial. He also engaged in public negotiations with the terrorist Red Army Faction, successfully urging them to renounce violence.[6][7]

Minister of Foreign Affairs and FDP chairman[edit]

In a surprise decision on 29 April 1992, the members of the FDP parliamentary group rejected the nomination of Germany's designated new Foreign Minister, Irmgard Schwaetzer, and voted instead to name Kinkel to head the Federal Foreign Office.[7]

Kinkel played a key role in the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and helped to draft its statutes.[8][9] He also unsuccessfully introduced a resolution at a meeting of European Community foreign ministers that would have committed each of the member countries to accept more refugees from the Balkans.[10] Later that year, he announced Germany's wish for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, arguing that Britain and France would never agree to an alternative plan under which they would merge their national seats into a single permanent seat representing the European Union.[11] Kinkel was a signatory of the Dayton Agreement that ended the Bosnian War in 1995.

Kinkel with other European leaders during the signing of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997

Under the leadership of Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Kinkel, the German Bundestag in 1993 agreed on a three-point amendment to the 1949 Constitution that for the first time let German troops take part in international peacekeeping operations sanctioned by the United Nations and other bodies, subject to advance approval by parliament.[12] Shortly after, the German Parliament approved a controversial troop deployment under the umbrella of the United Nations Operation in Somalia II, clearing the final hurdle for what was then Germany's biggest deployment of ground forces abroad since World War II.[13] Also under Kinkel’s leadership, Germany began destroying stockpiles of tanks and other heavy weapons in the early 1990s, becoming the first country to implement the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.[14]

In 1995, China dismissed a personal appeal from Kinkel to release Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng and expelled journalist Henrik Bork, a reporter for the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.[15] One year later, China abruptly canceled a planned visit to Beijing by Kinkel, citing a German parliamentary resolution that condemned China's human rights record in Tibet.[16]

A strong supporter of European integration, Kinkel successfully advocated for Germany to ratify the Maastricht Treaty on European political and economic union in December 1992, making it the 10th of the 12 European Community nations to sign on.[17] In 1994, he had to abandon his candidate for President of the European Commission, Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene of Belgium, following protest by British Prime Minister John Major.[18] In 1997, he argued that Turkey did not qualify because of its record on "human rights, the Kurdish question, relations with Greece and of course very clear economic questions."[19] On Kinkel’s initiative, Germany became the first government to declare a suspension of contacts with Bosnia's envoys abroad after a recommendation made by the High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Carlos Westendorp.[20]

From 21 January 1993, Kinkel was also Vice-Chancellor of Germany. From 1993 to 1995 he also served as chairman of the FDP.[1] After the Free Democrats won barely enough votes to get into the Bundestag in 1994[21] and later lost badly in 12 out of 14 state and European Parliament elections, Kinkel announced that he would not seek re-election as party chairman. He resigned as Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor after the government's defeat in the 1998 federal election.[1]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Kinkel was a member of the Bundestag, the Parliament of Germany, from 1994 to 2002.[22]

Life after politics[edit]

Kinkel in 2017

After leaving government in 1998, Kinkel worked as a lawyer and was engaged in a number of philanthropic and business activities, including the following:

At the request of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Kinkel represented the German government at the 2011 funeral of Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.[29]

In November 2016, Kinkel was elected as president of a newly created ethics commission of the German Football Association (DFB); the commission is part of the DFB's declared drive for more transparency and integrity following revelations of a financial scandal around the 2006 FIFA World Cup it hosted.[30]


  • Bewegte Zeiten für Europa!, in: Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y. (ed.): Europa in der Welt – die Welt in Europa (= Kulturwissenschaft interdisziplinär/Interdisciplinary Studies on Culture and Society, Vol. 1), Baden-Baden 2006, ISBN 978-3-8329-1934-4


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Prägende Figur der FDP – Ex-Außenminister Klaus Kinkel ist tot, ZDF 5. March 2019
  2. ^ a b Obituaries, Telegraph (6 March 2019). "Klaus Kinkel, high-profile German foreign minister after reunification, who had earlier led West Germany's intelligence agency – obituary". The Telegraph – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  3. ^ Hazan, Pierre (2004). Justice in a Time of War: The True Story Behind the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. College Station: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 1585443778.
  4. ^ a b c d Klaus Kinkel (in German) Munzinger
  5. ^ "Früherer Außenminister Kinkel gestorben". Tagesschau (in German). Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  6. ^ Stephen Kinzer (18 April 1992), German Terrorist Group Says It Will End Attacks New York Times.
  7. ^ a b Stephen Kinzer (29 April 1992), Party in Bonn Rebels on Genscher's Successor New York Times.
  8. ^ Eikel, Markus (1 July 2018). "'Germany's Global Responsibility' and the Creation of the International Criminal Court, 1993–1998". Journal of International Criminal Justice. 16 (3): 543–570. doi:10.1093/jicj/mqy022. ISSN 1478-1387.
  9. ^ "Germany: Parliament Urges More Support for the ICC". Human Rights Watch. 9 July 2018.
  10. ^ Stephen Kinzer (29 July 1992), Germany Chides Europe About Balkan Refugees New York Times.
  11. ^ Paul Lewis (24 September 1992), Germany Tells the U.N. It Wants A Permanent Seat on the Council New York Times.
  12. ^ Craig R. Whitney (14 January 1993), Kohl and Partners in Accord on Peacekeeping New York Times.
  13. ^ Bonn Parliament OKs Somalia Troops Los Angeles Times, 3 July 1993.
  14. ^ Germany Begins Cutbacks Under Weapons Treaty Los Angeles Times, 4 August 1992.
  15. ^ Rone Tempest (28 December 1995), Court Rejects Appeal of China Dissident Wei Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ Alan Cowell (25 June 1996), Germany's Concerns Over Rights in Tibet Clash With Trade Ties to China New York Times.
  17. ^ Germany Ratifies Maastricht Treaty Los Angeles Times, 19 December 1992.
  18. ^ Tom Buerkle (30 June 1994), Bonn Seeks To Break EU Logjam International Herald Tribune.
  19. ^ Stephen Kinzer (27 March 1997), Europeans Shut the Door on Turkey's Membership in Union New York Times.
  20. ^ Contact Suspended With Bosnia Envoys Los Angeles Times, 4 August 1997.
  21. ^ Craig R. Whitney (20 October 1994), Kohl's Free Democratic Allies Shaken by Big Election Losses New York Times.
  22. ^ "Ehemaliger Bundesaußenminister Klaus Kinkel gestorben". Junge Freiheit (in German). Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  23. ^ Board of Trustees Bundesliga Foundation.
  24. ^ Presidium Archived 18 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN).
  25. ^ Board of Trustees Deutsche Initiative für den Nahen Osten (DINO).
  26. ^ Patrick Jenkins (11 September 2005), Berlin beckons to investment banks Financial Times.
  27. ^ Wolfgang Schuster wird neuer Vorsitzender der Deutsche Telekom Stiftung Archived 27 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine Deutsche Telekom, press release of 17 September 2014.
  28. ^ 2008 Annual Report EnBW.
  29. ^ Christian Rickens (5 January 2016), Time To Cut Ties With Saudi Arabia Handelsblatt.
  30. ^ Klaus Kinkel to head up German federation's ethics commission ESPN FC, 3 November 2016.

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by President of the Federal Intelligence Service
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Federal Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by Foreign Minister of Germany
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Chancellor of Germany
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chairman of the Free Democratic Party
Succeeded by