Karl Steinhoff
Karl Steinhoff was a Minister-President
A minister-president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments, in which a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government prevails, who presides over the council of ministers...

 (Ministerpräsident) of the German state (Land) of Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

, then part of East Germany, and later served as East Germany's Minister of the Interior.

Born in Herford
Herford is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, located in the lowlands between the hill chains of the Wiehen Hills and the Teutoburg Forest. It is the capital of the district of Herford.- Geographic location :...

, Steinhoff studied law from 1910 through 1921 at the Universities of Freiburg
Freiburg im Breisgau is a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. In the extreme south-west of the country, it straddles the Dreisam river, at the foot of the Schlossberg. Historically, the city has acted as the hub of the Breisgau region on the western edge of the Black Forest in the Upper Rhine Plain...

, Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

, 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...

, and Münster
Münster is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Münsterland...

, earning his doctorate in 1921. In 1921-23 he was active in the Ministry of the Interior and Justice; in 1924 served as Legation Secretary (Legationssekretär) of the Saxon
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 legation in Berlin; in 1925-26 as a government advisor (Regierungsrat) in the administration (Amtshauptmannschaft) of Zittau
Zittau is a city in the south east of the Free State of Saxony, Germany, close to the border tripoint of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. , there are 28,638 people in the city. It is part of the Görlitz district....

; in 1927-28 as district chief (Landrat) of Zeitz
Zeitz is a town in the Burgenlandkreis district, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on the river Weiße Elster, in the middle of the triangle of the federal states Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony.-History:...

; and later as a vice president (Regierungsvizepräsident) in Gumbinnen and vice president (Vize-Oberpräsident) in Königsberg.

Politically, he had joined the Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 (SPD) in 1923. Amidst the turmoil of the early 1930s (see Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

), he was given time off in 1932 and dismissed from government service in 1933. From 1940-45, during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, he served as lawyer for a cardboard-box wholesale business in Berlin.

At the end of the war in 1945, he became president of the provincial administration (Provinzialverwaltung) of Brandenburg. He joined the Socialist Unity Party
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 (SED) in 1946, and from 1946-49 served as Brandenburg's Minister-President and as a member of its state parliament
Landtag of Brandenburg
The Landtag of Brandenburg is the unicameral legislature of the state of Brandenburg in Germany.It has 88 members of parliament, currently belonging to four parties.-History:...

. From 1949-52 he was East Germany's Minister of the Interior; his dismissal at the end of that time was arranged by Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht was a German communist politician. As First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971 , he played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany and later in the early development and...


During that time, he was a member of the German People's Council (Deutscher Volksrat) from 1948-49, and from 1950-54 a member of the Volkskammer
The People's Chamber was the unicameral legislature of the German Democratic Republic . From its founding in 1949 until the first free elections on 18 March 1990, all members of the Volkskammer were elected on a slate controlled by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany , called the National Front...

. Within the SED, he was a member of the central committee of the SED from 1949-54. He also served as a professor of administrative law at Humboldt University in Berlin from 1949-55.

He received the Fatherland Order of Merit (Vaterländischer Verdienstorden), the honor clip (Ehrenspange) to the Fatherland Order of Merit, and the Order of Karl Marx
Order of Karl Marx
The Order of Karl Marx was the most important order in the German Democratic Republic . Award of the order also included a prize of 20,000 East German marks....


He was the oldest former Minister-President of East Germany. Steinhoff was preceded by Wilhelm Höcker
Wilhelm Höcker
Wilhelm Höcker was a German politician and former Minister-President of Mecklenburg....

 and succeeded by Max Seydewitz
Max Seydewitz
Max Seydewitz was a German politician and Minister-President Saxony in East Germany)....

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