Genscher, Hans Dietrich

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Genscher, Hans Dietrich

Hans Dietrich Genscher (häns´ dē´trĬk gĕn´shər), 1927–, German politician; foreign minister (1974–92). A Liberal party member in East Germany, he left the East in 1952, joining the Free Democrats (FDP) in West Germany. Elected to the Bundestag (1965), he became the party's chairman (1974), and led it into a coalition government with the Social Democrats (SPD), becoming vice chancellor and minister of foreign affairs. His split with the SPD (1982) brought down the government. He engineered a new governing coalition between Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the FDP, and remained vice chancellor and minister of foreign affairs. He resigned from the party chairmanship (1985), but retained his government posts, playing a leading role in negotiating German reunification in 1990. Known for his avuncular and unassuming manner, he was the chief architect of a European settlement encompassing the East European nations and the remnants of the former Soviet Union. He stepped down from his government posts in 1992.

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