Georg Leber

Georg Leber

German SPD politician, former Minister of Transport
Date of Birth: 07.10.1920
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Georg Leber
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Political Career
  4. Later Years and Honors

Biography of Georg Leber

Georg Leber was a German politician from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and a former Minister of Transport, Postal Services, and Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).

Early Life and Career

Georg Leber completed his primary education in Oberursel and then pursued training as a bricklayer. After serving in the Luftwaffe during World War II, Leber joined the SPD in 1947. In 1949, he became the secretary of the Limburg division of the union "IG Bau-Steine-Erden" and three years later, he became the editor of the union newspaper "Der Grundstein" ("The Foundation"). In 1955, Leber became the deputy chairman of the union and eventually became its chairman in 1957, a position he held until 1966. In 1957, he was elected to the Bundestag and remained a member until 1983.

Political Career

In 1966, Leber was appointed as the Minister of Transport in the SPD/Free Democratic Party (FDP) coalition. He continued to hold this position and in 1969, he also became the Minister of Communication and Postal Services of the FRG. In 1972, he left both positions to replace Helmut Schmidt as the Minister of Defense of West Germany. During his tenure, military academies were established in Munich and Hamburg. Leber's popularity was quite high, although he faced challenges and had to make difficult decisions early on in his term. On September 11, 1972, just a few days after the terrorist attack by the group "Black September," an unidentified aircraft that did not respond to ground requests was detected in the sky. The aircraft was clearly heading towards Munich, where the closing ceremony of the XX Olympic Games was taking place. The possibility of a terrorist attack was high, and Leber faced a difficult choice. Only minutes before the order to shoot down the aircraft, communication with the pilots of the Finnish airliner was restored. It turned out that there was a malfunction in the onboard electronics.

On November 29, 1973, Leber announced a new strategy for the development of the Bundeswehr in a government statement before the German Bundestag. As part of this strategy, the army was significantly expanded. The ground forces received approximately three additional brigades. Starting in 1975, women were allowed to become officers in the medical service for the first time. Georg Leber resigned on February 15, 1978, against the will of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, taking responsibility for the use of surveillance systems in the building of the Military Counterintelligence Agency. It was later revealed that these accusations were unfounded. The minister only learned about the illegal "wiretapping" in early 1978 but only informed the Bundestag after a scandalous publication in the magazine "Quick."

Later Years and Honors

From 1979 to 1983, Leber served as the Vice President of the Bundestag. He was an honorary citizen of Oberursel since 1969 and Schwalbach since 1970. Leber was also awarded the Order of Merit of the FRG with a star (1969), a shoulder ribbon (1973), and the Grand Cross of the Order (1976). In 1980, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tübingen. Leber was also the recipient of the Ludger Westrick Prize (1983), the Bavarian Order of Merit (1984), and the Theodor Heuss Prize (1985).