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Rita Süssmuth (German pronunciation: [ˈʁiːta ˈzʏsmuːt]; born 17 February 1937) is a German politician and a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Rita Süssmuth
Süssmuth on 4 April 2014
President of the Bundestag
(West Germany until 1990)
In office
25 November 1988 – 26 October 1998
Preceded byPhilipp Jenninger
Succeeded byWolfgang Thierse
Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
(West Germany)
In office
26 September 1985 – 25 November 1988
ChancellorHelmut Kohl
Preceded byHeiner Geißler
Succeeded byUrsula Lehr
Personal details
Born (1937-02-17) 17 February 1937 (age 82)
Wuppertal, Germany
Political partyCDU
Alma materUniversity of Münster

From 1985 to 1988, she served as Federal Minister for Youth, Family and Health (from 1986 youth, family, women and health) and from 1988 to 1998 as President of the German Bundestag . With close to 10 years, her tenure was the third longest in the history of the Bundestag. Only Eugen Gerstenmaier and Norbert Lammert held the position longer.

In addition to her political work, Süssmuth was involved in many civil society projects, for example as President of the European Movement Germany (1994-1998) and member of the Advisory Board and Board of Trustees of the non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation (1997-2007). Süssmuth has received various honours for her services.

Early life and educationEdit

Süssmuth was born and spent her childhood in Wadersloh. After graduating from high school in Emsland-Gymnasium in Rheine in 1956, she completed a degree in Romance studies and history in Münster, Tübingen and Paris, which she finished on July 20, 1961 with the first state examination for teaching. This was followed by postgraduate studies in educational science, sociology and psychology.

In 1964, she received her Ph.D. phil. at work studies on the anthropology of the child in contemporary French literature at the University of Münster.

Süssmuth graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Münster in 1964. From 1966 until 1982, she was a faculty member in education at University of Dortmund, Ruhr University, and their predecessor institutions.


Early careerEdit

From 1963 to 1966, Süssmuth worked as a scientific assistant at the universities of Stuttgart and Osnabrück and from 1966 as a lecturer at the Pädagogische Hochschule Ruhr. From 1969 to 1982 she had a teaching assignment at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum for International Comparative Education.

In 1971, she was appointed Full Professor of Educational Science at the Pädagogische Hochschule Ruhr. In 1973, she accepted the call of the University of Dortmund. Since 1971 she has worked on the scientific advisory board of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs.

From 1982 to 1985, she was the director of the Institut Frau und Gesellschaft in Hanover. During her time as an active politician, she gave block events at the University of Göttingen.

In September 2000, she was appointed by the then Minister of the Interior Otto Schily as chairman of an Independent Commission Immigration, which was set up on 12 September 2000 and the 21 members. Deputy Chairman of the commission was Hans-Jochen Vogel. The commission's task was to develop an overall concept for a new immigration law. The results of this work were presented in July 2001 in the form of a report titled Immigration - Promote Integration. The published booklet had 323 pages.

In 2002, she became a member of the Limbach Kommission, which acts as a mediator in questions of Nazi looted art.

On September 6, 2005, Rita Süssmuth was appointed as the new President of the state-approved Berlin OTA Private University, today SRH Hochschule Berlin. She handed over the position in January 2010 to Peter Eichhorn.

Political careerEdit

From 1985 to 1988, Süssmuth was Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth under Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In late 1989, she joined forces with Lothar Späth, Heiner Geißler, Kurt Biedenkopf and others in an unsuccessful effort to oust Kohl as CDU chairman.[1]

Süssmuth was a member of the German Bundestag from 1987 to 2002. After the resignation of Philipp Jenninger in 1988 she became the 10th President of the Bundestag. She held the post until 1998, when the SPD became the strongest group in parliament.

Her tenure saw West Germany reunified with East Germany.

From 1986 to 2001, Süssmuth was president of the Frauenunion (the organization of the female members of the CDU) and therefore had a strong influence in her party.

Life after politicsEdit

Süssmuth at Neue Stimmen 1997

In September 2000, Federal Minister of the Interior Otto Schily appointed Süssmuth as head of a high-profile bipartisan commission to overhaul Germany's immigration policies.[2] Since 2005, she has been president of the OTA Hochschule, a private university in Berlin.

After leaving politics, Süssmuth has been involved in a number of philanthropic and business activities, including the following:

Süssmuth is also Member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation established in 2008 to monitor tolerance in Europe and prepare recommendations to European governments and IGOs on fighting xenophobia and anti-semitism.

Süssmuth is a supporter of the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which advocates for democratic reformation of the United Nations.[14]

In 2018 Süssmuth was awarded the Mercator Visiting Professorship for Political Management at the Universität Essen-Duisburg's NRW School of Governance.[15]

Awards and recognitionsEdit

Honorary doctorate degreesEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Since 1964, Süssmuth is married to university professor Hans Süssmuth. They have one daughter.

Selected worksEdit

  • 1964 Studien zur Anthropologie des Kindes in der französischen Literatur der Gegenwart unter besonderer Berücksichtigung François Mauriacs (Dissertation)
  • 1980 Zur Anthropologie des Kindes. Untersuchungen und Interpretationen
  • 1985 Frauen – der Resignation keine Chance
  • 1987 Aids: Wege aus der Angst
  • 1987 Frauenlexikon: Traditionen, Fakten, Perspektiven zusammen mit Anneliese Lissner und Karin Walter
  • 1989 Emma Co-Autorin
  • 1992 Die planlosen Eliten zusammen mit Peter Glotz (SPD) und Konrad Seitz (Botschafter)
  • 1997 Eine deutsche Zwischenbilanz: Standpunkte zum Umgang mit unserer Vergangenheit
  • 2000 Wer nicht kämpft hat schon verloren
  • 2006 Migration und Integration: Testfall für unsere Gesellschaft
  • 2007 Dennoch: Der Mensch geht vor. Für eine Umkehr in Politik und Gesellschaft
  • 2007 Bildung als globale Herausforderung. Zwei Statements – ein Gespräch with Hermann Glaser, in: Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y. (ed.): Kultur und Gerechtigkeit (= Kulturwissenschaft interdisziplinär/Interdisciplinary Studies on Culture and Society, Vol. 2), Baden-Baden 2007, ISBN 978-3-8329-2604-5
  • 2015 Das Gift des Politischen. Gedanken und Erinnerungen. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, München ISBN 978-3-423-28043-3 (Rezension in der Annotierten Bibliografie der Politikwissenschaft)


  1. ^ Harry Luck (January 28, 2010), Biedenkopf: „König Kurt“ und Kohls Rivale Focus.
  2. ^ Germany's Need for Immigrants New York Times, 30 July 2001.
  3. ^ Eminent world personalities call for an HIV Prevention Revolution UNAIDS, press release of 1 December 2010.
  4. ^ Strategic Council European Policy Centre (EPC).
  5. ^ Global Commission on International Migration International Organization for Migration.
  6. ^ Board of Trustees Migration Policy Institute (MPI).
  7. ^ Board of Trustees Heinz Galinski Foundation.
  8. ^ Board of Trustees Deutsche Initiative für den Nahen Osten (DINO).
  9. ^ Advisory Board Gegen Vergessen – Für Demokratie.
  10. ^ About Us Til Schweiger Foundation.
  11. ^ Board of Trustees Total E-Quality.
  12. ^ Presidium United Nations Association of Germany (DGVN).
  13. ^ 2009 Annual Report EnBW.
  14. ^ "Statements". Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  15. ^ Ruhr, Regionalverband (9 February 2018). "Rita Süssmuth wird Gastprofessorin an der NRW School of Governance in Duisburg". (in German). Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Ein sehr bewegender Abend: Wir gratulieren #RitaSüssmuth ganz herzlich zur Verleihung unserer Ehrenmitgliedschaft!". Twitter. 7 April 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  17. ^ "„Wegbereiterin der deutsch-polnischen Aussöhnung" – Verdienstorden des Landes für Prof. Rita Süssmuth". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  18. ^ Dorothea-Schlözer-Medaille
  19. ^ "Rita Süssmuth erhält Humanismus-Preis » kathnews" (in German). Retrieved 8 March 2018.


External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Heiner Geißler
Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Succeeded by
Ursula Lehr