Gerhard Schröder

Gerhard Schröder (b. 1944) is a lawyer and member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) who served as Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. During his time as Chancellor, he led a coalition government consisting of SPD and Die Grünen (The Greens).

Gerhard SchröderSchröder joined the Social Democratic Party in 1963.

He studied law at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen 1966-1971, and from 1972 and onward, he served as a scientific assistant at the university. He passed his second law examination in 1976 and went to work as a lawyer.

In 1978, Schröder became the federal chairman of SPD’s youth organisation Jusos.

In 1990, he paused his lawyer career to be Prime Minister of Lower Saxony (1990-1998).

Schröder works as a global manager for the investment bank Rotschild. He is the chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG, of Rosneft and of the football club Hannover96. He is said to be an active trader and to have smaller private holdings in a long row of different companies.

Short facts about Gerhard Schröder

Name Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder
Born 7 April 1944 in Blomberg, Germany
Political party Social Democratic Party
Alma mater Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Spouses Eva Schubach (married 1968–1972)
Anne Taschenmacher (married 1972–1984)
Hiltrud Hampel (married 1984–1997)
Doris Köpf (married 1997–2016)
Domestic partner So-Yeon Kim (since 2017)
Children Viktoria Schröder
Gregor Schröder

Chancellor of Germany

In office: 27 October 1998 – 22 November 2005

President Roman Herzog
Johannes Rau
Horst Köhler
Vice Chancellor Joschka Fischer
Preceded by Helmut Kohl
Succeeded by Angela Merkel

Leader of the Social Democratic Party

In office: 12 March 1999 – 21 March 2004

General Secretary Franz Müntefering
Olaf Scholz
Preceded by Oskar Lafontaine
Succeeded by Franz Müntefering

President of the Bundesrat

In office: 1 November 1997 – 27 October 1998

Preceded by Erwin Teufel
Succeeded by Hans Eichel

Minister President of Lower Saxony

In office: 21 June 1990 – 27 October 1998

Preceded by Ernst Albrecht
Succeeded by Gerhard Glogowski

Early life

On 7 April 1944, Gerhard Schröder was born in Blomberg in the Lippe discrict of North Rhine-Westphalia. Half a year later, his father Fritz Schröder – who was a lance corpral in the Wehrmatch – was killed in action in Romania. To support herself and her two sons, the widow Erika Schröder (née Vosseler) worked as an agricultural laborer.

From 1958 to 1961, the adolescent Gerhard Schröder was an apprentice in retail sales in a hardware shop in Lemgo, a university city in the Lippe district. After this, he worked as a construction worker and a sales clerk in Göttingen to support himself while taking night school classes to obtain the required qualifications to attend university.

Since Schröders father had died in World War II, Schröder was excempt from the compulsory military service.


Schröder passed the Abitur exam at Westfalen-Kolleg in Bielefeld in 1966, which ment that he could go on to university. He opted for law, which he studied at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in 1966-1971. From 1972 and onwards, he served as a scientific assistant at the university. He passed his second law examination in 1976 and left the university to work as a lawyer.


Schröder worked as a lawyer from 1976 until 1990. One of this most well-known cases was when he helped Horst Mahler – one of the founders of the Baader Meinhof terrorist group – to obtain an early release from prison and permission to go back to practising law in Germany.

Prime Minister of Lower Saxony

Schröder was the Prime Minister of Lower Saxony 1990-1998.

Chancellor of Germany

First term (1998–2002)

After the 1998 national elections in Germany, Gerhard Schröder was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, heading an SPD-Die Grünen coaltion.

Schröder worked closely with Britain’s Prime Miniter Tony Blair, and in June 1999 they jointly issued an 18-page manifesto for economic reform, calling on Europe’s center-left governments to cut taxes, encourage entrepreneurship and lower welfare costs. This direction was not well recieved by the labor-wing of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, and the manifesto was considered at least partly to blame for a succession of state election losses for the party in 1999. Still, Schröder managed to push through a major tax-reform bill in 2000, aided by a Christian Democratic donations scandal that temporarily damaged the opposition.

Second term (2002–2005)

The 2002 national election gave the SPD-Die Grüne coalition a 9 seat majority, which was considerably less than the 21 seat majority that had enjoyed during the previous term. During the build-up to the election, the SPD-Die Grüne coalition trailed the centre-rights until a natural disaster i Germany made it possible for Chancellor Schröder to get much more media space than his opponents. Another major factor in the outcome of the election was Schröders opposition to a war in Iraq.

In the 2005 national election, neither Schröder’s SPD-Die Grüne coalition nor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU + FDP alliance obtained a majority in parliament, but the alliance had 1 percentage point more in the popular electoral lead. After negotiations, the parties agreed to form a grand coalition lead by Merkel but where the SPD would hold the majority of government posts. Schröder announced that he would leave politics as soon as Merkel took office.

This article was last updated on: December 3, 2020