15 April, 2009

Herbert Wehner

Herbert Richard Wehner was a German politician.

Herbert Wehner was born in Dresden. His father was active in his labor union and a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). More radical than his father, Wehner joined the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1927. He was elected to the state legislature of Saxony in 1930. After Hitler came to power in 1933, he participated in the communist resistance against the National Socialist (Nazi) regime. In 1935 he went into exile in Moscow. After being sent to Sweden on party business in 1941, he was arrested and interned in 1942.

Upon his return to Germany in 1946, Wehner joined the Social Democratic Party. In 1949 he became a member of the Bundestag (the German parliament) and remained an elected member until his retirement from politics in 1983. Wehner was instrumental in the SPD's adoption of the Godesberg Program in which the party repudiated a fixation on Marxist ideology and broadened its appeal. In 1966 he was named Federal Minister for All-German Affairs in the CDU–SPD coalition government of Kurt Kiesinger. When the SPD assumed the reins of government under Willy Brandt, Wehner became chairman of the SPD parliamentary fraction. He was known as a hard disciplinarian who kept his members in line.

During his tenure in the Bundestag Wehner became famous (or infamous) for his heckling style, often hurling personal insults at members with whom he disagreed. He holds the record for official censures handed down by the presiding officer.

Wehner died in 1990 in Bonn, Germany after a long illness.

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