Annemarie Renger
Annemarie Renger (born 7 October 1919 in Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

; died 3 March 2008 in Remagen
Remagen is a town in Germany in Rhineland-Palatinate, in the district of Ahrweiler. It is about a one hour drive from Cologne , just south of Bonn, the former West German capital. It is situated on the River Rhine. There is a ferry across the Rhine from Remagen every 10–15 minutes in the summer...

-Oberwinter), was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 for the “Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands” (Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 - SPD).

In 1972 she was the first woman to become President of the Bundestag
President of the Bundestag
The President of the Bundestag presides over the sessions of the Bundestag, the parliament of Germany, with functions similar to that of a speaker in other countries. In the German order of precedence, his office is ranked second after the President and before the Chancellor...

. She held this position until 1976 when she became Vice President of the Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

 (German parliament).

She was nominated as the presidential candidate of the SPD in 1979, the first woman to be nominated for President by a major party.


Annemarie Renger attended the “Augusta-Lyzeum” in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, an all female high school. Her scholarship was withdrawn and she was forced to leave the institution in 1934 after it was found out that her parents' political attitude did not coincide with that of the ruling Nazi party. Renger instead entered vocational training to become, and worked as, a bookseller and publisher in Berlin.

Later she worked as a private secretary for Kurt Schumacher
Kurt Schumacher
Dr. Kurt Schumacher , was chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1946 and first Leader of the Opposition in the West German Bundestag parliament from 1949 until his death...

, the leader of the Social Democratic Party. In 1946 she became office manager for the SPD party executive committee in Hannover and later in Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....



Annemarie Renger's family was rooted in the social democratic movement. Her grand father was an active party member. Annemarie was one of seven children to Fritz Wildung (1872–1954; a carpenter, SPD politician and sports executive) and his wife Martha (1881–?) who joined the SPD in 1908—the first year women in Germany were eligible to join political parties. In 1924, her father became executive director of the “Zentralkommission für Arbeitersport” (“Central Committee for Workers' Sports”) in Berlin. The Nazis prohibited him from working and persecuted him.


In 1938, Annemarie Renger married Emil Ernst Renger, an advertising manager, who was killed in 1944 while on military duty in France. Their son, Rolf Renger (1938–1998), later a member of the Free Democratic Party
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

 (FDP), whom she survived, did not get to know his father. Annemarie Renger's husband died when she was 26 years old, also having lost three of her brothers to war.

In 1945, she met Kurt Schumacher, and became his closest confidant and partner until his death in 1952. In 1965, Annemarie Renger married Aleksandar Loncarevic, an economist from Yugoslavia. Their marriage lasted until his death in 1973. After 1965, the couple lived in Oberwinter near Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....


Political career

Renger's association with the SPD continued through the horror of the Nazi regime. After the fall of the Hitler regime she wanted to take use of the newly gained liberty:

“Before us lay the rubble of Germany. I was firmly determined to get myself involved in politics, and to participate in building a democratic Germany. I wanted to help ensure that the world would never experience war again.”

Party career

Annemarie Renger became a member of the SPD in 1945. On 1 October, she took up the position of a private secretary to Kurt Schumacher. She later said that since the age of 10, she had wanted to later become a “party secretary”. Upon reading one of his speeches titled “Wir verzweifeln nicht” (“We do not despair”) her attention was called to the Kurt Schumacher, leader of the Social Democratic Party, who had been tortured in the concentration camps by the Nazis. She wanted to meet the author of these lines.

The famous photograph showing Annemarie Renger supporting the very ill and amputated (one foot and one arm) Kurt Schumacher has become an icon of German post-war history.

After the 1972 federal election
German federal election, 1972
The 7th German federal election, 1972, was conducted on 19 November 1972, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany...

, the SPD held a plurality of seats and thus, with the support of the Free Democrats, on 13 December 1972, was able to elect her as President of the Bundestag.

Since 1973, Renger had been a member of the SPD “federal party committee” as well as the party's chairmanship. From 1979 until 1983, she served in the party's “control commission”. In addition to Egon Franke, Annemarie Renger was considered a leading member of the so-called “Kanalarbeiterriege” (engl. “Sewage Workers Guild”), a powerful group of SPD members of the Bundestag in the years 1957 through 1982. Their political orientation was rather conservative and union-friendly. In 1982, the “Sewage Workers Guild” merged with the Seeheimer Kreis
Seeheimer Kreis
The Seeheimer Kreis is an official, internal grouping in the Social Democratic Party of Germany . Known for being right-wing within its party, the group promotes comparatively value–conservative politics with relatively liberal economic positions. The group was founded in September 1974...


Candidacy for the Office of Federal President

In 1979, Annemarie Renger was nominated by her party as a candidate for the Office of the Federal President (Bundespräsident), but lost by a margin of 431 to 528 electoral votes to Karl Carstens, the candidate of the CDU and CSU parties. The 66 electoral delegates seated by the Free Democratic Party (FDP) abstained.

Member of the Bundestag

In 1953, Annemarie Renger won her seat as Member of the Bundestag, and held it through 1990. From 1959 until 1966 she, as well, served as a member of the Advisory Conference of the European Council and the Western European Union.

From 1969 until 1972 she served as “Parlamentarische Geschäftsführerin” (Majority whip) of the SPD. She was the first woman to enter the internal leadership of the SPD parliamentary group (German: “Fraktion”) in the Bundestag.

After the SPD, for the first time in German history, had won the majority of seats in the Bundestag in the 1972 federal election
German federal election, 1972
The 7th German federal election, 1972, was conducted on 19 November 1972, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany...

, Annemarie Renger on 13 December 1972, was elected President of the Bundestag - the first woman to hold this office in Germany and the first woman in the world holding such office in a freely elected parliament. Later Renger said: “I myself proposed my running for this office to the members of our Bundestag parliamentary group. You think, they really had chosen me [for the job, had I not proposed that myself]?“

At the same time she chaired two subcommittees of the “Council of Elders of the Bundestag”: the “Subcommittee on Budget” and the “Subcommitte on Issues of Taxation of Remuneration for Members of the Bundestag”. She also was chairperson of the “Joint Committee” (“Gemeinsamer Ausschuss nach Artikel 53 des Grundgesetzes”).

Following the 1976 federal election
German federal election, 1976
The 8th German federal election, 1976, was conducted on 3 October 1976, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany.-Issues and Campaign:...

, the “Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands” (CDU, Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

) and its sister party, the “Christlich Soziale Union in Bayern” (CSU, Christian Social Union in Bavaria) regained plurality in the Bundestag, and Karl Carstens
Karl Carstens
Karl Carstens was a German politician. He served as President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1979 to 1984.-Biography:...

 followed Annemarie Renger as President of the Bundestag. Renger was elected Vice President of the Bundestag and served in this function until her resignation from the Bundestag prior to the 1990 federal election
German federal election, 1990
The 12th German federal election, 1990 was conducted on December 2, 1990, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany...

. During her term as Deputy-President, she chaired several committees of the “Council of Elders of the Bundestag”. From 24 June 1977 until 1983, Annemarie Renger served as vice-chairperson of the Bundestag “Auswärtiger Ausschuss” (Foreign Relations Committee).

During the voting on the SPD motion on the NATO Double-Track Decision
NATO Double-Track Decision
The NATO Double-Track Decision is the decision of NATO from December 12, 1979 to offer the Warsaw Pact a mutual limitation of Medium-range ballistic missiles and Intermediate-range ballistic missiles combined with the threat that in case of disagreement NATO would deploy more middle range nuclear...

 (NATO-Doppelbeschluss) held on 22 November 1983, which called for additional negotiations with the Soviet Union prior to stationing of Intermediate Range Nuclear Weapons in Europe, she abstained together with 24 party colleagues of the SPD, among them Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt is a German Social Democratic politician who served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982. Prior to becoming chancellor, he had served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance. He had also served briefly as Minister of Economics and as acting...

 and Egon Franke, Dieter Haak, Karl Ahrens and Hans Matthöfer
Hans Matthöfer
Hans Hermann Matthöfer was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.Between 1974 and 1978 Matthöfer served as secretary of research and technology. In 1978 he took over as secretary of finance and in 1982 he left that post and served briefly as secretary of telecommunication...

 from the party's right wing.

Social dedication

From 1985 on, Annemarie Renger served as President of the “Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Deutschland”, a non-profit relief and welfare organisation, which is a member of the European “Samariter International e.V.” (SAINT) . From 1987 until 1998 she was
chairwoman of the supervisory board of “McDonald’s Kinderhilfe” (Children Support Fund). From 1991 until 1995 she chaired the „Vereinigung ehemaliger Mitglieder des Deutschen Bundestages und des europäischen Parlaments e. V.“ (Association of Former Members of the German Bundestag and the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...


She was chairwoman of the “Zentralverband demokratischer Widerstandskämpfer- und Verfolgungsorganisationen” (Central Association of Organisations of Democratic Resistance Fighters and the Persecuted), President of the “Kurt-Schumacher-Gesellschaft” (Kurt-Schumacher-Society), and Honorary President of “Netzwerk Europäische Bewegung Deutschland
European Movement
The European Movement International is a lobbying association that coordinates the efforts of associations and national councils with the goal of promoting European integration, and disseminating information about it.-History:...

” (Network European Movement)


Annemarie Renger received various commendations for her special engagement to the German-Jewish-Israeli relationship. Having served as head of the “German-Israeli Parliamentary Group” for 14 years, in 1992 she was awarded the Buber-Rosenzweig-Medal, together with Hildegard Hamm-Brücher
Hildegard Hamm-Brücher
Hildegard Hamm-Brücher is a prominent liberal politician in Germany. She held federal state secretary positions from 1969 to 1972 and from 1977 to 1982...

. She held an honorary doctorate of the Ben-Gurion-University of Negev. In 2006 she received the “Heinz-Galinski-Preis” (“Heinz-Galinski-Award”) of the Berlin Jewish Community. Annemarie Renger has been awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz
The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany is the only general state decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has existed since 7 September 1951, and between 3,000 and 5,200 awards are given every year across all classes...

 (Federal Cross of Merit, officially: “Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland”, “Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany”).


Annemarie Renger is commonly regarded as a "Grande Dame", the last of the grand ladies of the German Social Democratic movement. This is owed not only to her political influence, her life in a social democratic community, or to her age, but also to her demeanor. Renger set great value on style and appearance. She had a preference for sports cars and mink coats and her hair styling was always perfect. There are legendary anecdotes about her friendly, but resolute remark to Gerhard Schröder, then (1980) newly-elected Member of the Bundestag and Chairman of the SPD “Juso” (abbreviation for “Young Socialists”) youth organisation (and later to become Federal Chancellor) about him failing to wear a necktie: „Genosse [(comrade)] Schröder, you will have to wear a necktie for tomorrow's election of the Bundeskanzler
Bundeskanzler or Bundeskanzlerin may refer to:*Chancellor of Germany , the head of the German federal government*Chancellor of Austria, the head of the Austrian federal government...

 - as called for by custom“. Schröder followed her order and, at a later occasion, remarked: „For her, wearing proper attire was a sign of respect towards a constitutional body of democratic Germany. The institutions of parliamentary democracy had to be respected. For Annemarie Renger, they were emitting grace of their own, and this was not to be violated.” During a Bundestag session in 1987, Thomas Ebermann, a member of the Green Party, stepped up to the lectern in the chamber wearing rather casual attire. In a short but unequivocal manner Renger snapped at him: “Button up your shirt!”. Her order appeared so clear to Ebermann that he complied immediately.



  • Sozialdemokratie und Parlament. in: Beiträge zu Einzelproblemen des „Entwurfs eines ökonomisch-politischen Orientierungsrahmens für die Jahre 1973–1985“. Bonn-Bad Godesberg 1973, pg. 29–37.
  • Parlamentarierinnen in den europäischen Versammlungen. in: Wolf Frühauf: Wissenschaft und Weltbild. Festschrift für Hertha Firnberg. Wien 1975, pg. 49–56.
  • Annemarie Renger, Karl Carstens, Alfred Ollesch: Selbstverständnis. Der Bundestag im Spiegel dreier Debattenbeiträge. Bonn 1977.
  • Die Konferenz der Europäischen Parlamentspräsidenten – Ursprung und Ziele. in: Heinz Rosenbauer, Volkmar Gabert: Parlamentarismus und Föderalismus. Festschrift für Rudolf Hanauer aus Anlass seines 70. Geburtstages. Ehrenwirth, München 1978, pg. 184–189, ISBN 3-431-02064-X.
  • Berechtigte Kritik hält lebendig. Der Bundestag ist anpassungsfähig und reformbereit geblieben. in: Hartmut Klatt: Der Bundestag im Verfassungsgefüge der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Bonn 1980, pg. 141–144.
  • Notwendigkeit und Formen einer parlamentarischen Planungsbegleitung. in: Jürgen Jekewitz, Michael Melzer, Wolfgang Zeh: Politik als gelebte Verfassung. Festschrift für Friedrich Schäfer. Westdeutscher Verl., Opladen 1980, pg. 87–92, ISBN 3-531-11500-6.
  • Fasziniert von Politik. Beiträge zu Zeit. Seewald, Stuttgart 1981, ISBN 3-512-00610-8
  • Der zentrale Ort der Politik. in: Eckart Busch: Parlamentarische Demokratie. Festschrift für Helmut Schellknecht zum 65. Geburtstag. Heidelberg 1984, pg. 3–8.
  • Eine faszinierende Aufgabe. in: Rupert Schick: Der Bundestagspräsident. Stuttgart 1987 (9th edition), pg. 117–122, ISBN 3-87959-315-9.
  • Braucht der Staat des Grundgesetzes Elemente direkter Demokratie? in: Philipp Jenninger
    Philipp Jenninger
    Philipp Jenninger is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union and diplomat. He served as Member of the German Parliament, the Bundestag , Minister of State at the German Chancellery , President of the Bundestag , German Ambassador to Austria and German Ambassador to the Holy See...

    : Unverdrossen für Europa. Festschrift für Kai-Uwe von Hassel
    Kai-Uwe von Hassel
    Kai-Uwe von Hassel was a German politician from Schleswig-Holstein associated with the CDU party.Von Hassel was born in Gare, German East Africa ....

    zum 75. Geburtstag. Nomos, Baden-Baden 1988, pg. 339–345, ISBN 3-7890-1576-8.
  • Vierzig Jahre Deutscher Bundestag. Erfahrungen und Maßstäbe. in: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte. Bonn 1989, Heft 37,38, pg. 7–12.
  • Ein politisches Leben. Erinnerungen. Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-421-06532-2

External links

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