Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (born November 21, 1942 in Frankfurt am Main) is 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...

A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and a member of the Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 since 1965.


Wieczorek-Zeul is a prominent figure of the Social Democrats' left wing and is often called "Red Heidi". From 1974 to 1977, she was the Jusos' chair which is the youth organisation of the SPD (Young Socialists).

After the resignation of party leader Björn Engholm
Björn Engholm
Björn Engholm is a Lübeck born German SPD politician. He was Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein from 1988 to 1993 and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany between 1991 and 1993....

 in 1993, she stood for the Social Democrats' candidacy for the chancellor's office, but lost to Rudolf Scharping
Rudolf Scharping
Rudolf Scharping is a German politician .Scharping studied politics, sociology and law at the University of Bonn. He joined the Social Democratic Party in 1966. He was Member of the Rhineland-Palatine Parliament from 1975 to 1994. From 21 May 1991 to 15 October 1994 he was prime minister of the...

. Scharping won 40% of all votes cast by the party members, Schröder 33% and Wieczorek-Zeul 27%. It was the first time (and so far only time) the party members were asked to elect the new party leader.

When Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 became German chancellor in 1998, she served as Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.

On August 16, 2004, at the 100th anniversary of the start of the Herero and Namaqua Genocide
Herero and Namaqua Genocide
The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century. It took place between 1904 and 1907 in German South-West Africa , during the scramble for Africa...

, Wieczorek-Zeul, in her capacity of Germany's Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation, officially apologized for the first time and expressed grief about the genocide, declaring, "We Germans accept our historic and moral responsibility and the guilt incurred by Germans at that time." In addition, she admitted that the massacres were equivalent to genocide. She ruled out paying special compensations, but promised continued economic aid for Namibia which currently amounts to $14m a year.

She kept her office after Schröder's defeat in 2005. She initiated the EU's target of increasing its development aid from 0.51% by 2010 to 0.7% of the GDP by 2015.

Around this time too, she visited Kenya's sprawling slum at Mathare 4A, Kasarani District and virtually pitied Mathare 4A primary school, which had been invaded and harassed by squatters. Today, the old school has been replaced by a new Heidemarie (formally, Mathare 4A) Primary School, courtesy of the German Government through KfW Entwicklungsbank and the government of Kenya.

In July 2006, Charlotte Knobloch
Charlotte Knobloch
Charlotte Knobloch was elected President of Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland in June, 2006. She is also Vice President of the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress...

, head of the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland
Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland
The Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland is a federation of German Jews organizing many Jewish organisations in Germany. It was founded on July 19, 1950, as a response to the increasing isolation of German Jews by the international Jewish community and increasing interest in Jewish affairs by the ...

 (Central Council of Jews in Germany), demanded her resignation after Wieczorek-Zeul had called Israeli use of cluster bomb
Cluster bomb
A cluster munition is a form of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapon that releases or ejects smaller sub-munitions. Commonly, this is a cluster bomb that ejects explosive bomblets that are designed to kill enemy personnel and destroy vehicles...

s "totally unacceptable under international law".

In 2009, she criticized statements made by Pope Benedict XVI which claimed that condoms promote AIDS, when in fact they help prevent AIDS.

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