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Ernst Benda
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F041440-0013, Hamburg, CDU-Bundesparteitag, Ernst Benda.jpg
4th President of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
In office
8 December 1971 – 20 December 1983
Preceded byGebhard Müller
Succeeded byWolfgang Zeidler
6th Federal Minister of the Interior of Germany
In office
2 April 1968 – 21 October 1969
Preceded byPaul Lücke
Succeeded byHans-Dietrich Genscher
Member of the Bundestag
In office
15 October 1957 – 8 December 1971
Personal details
Born(1925-01-15)15 January 1925
Berlin, Germany
Died2 March 2009(2009-03-02) (aged 84)
Karlsruhe, Germany
Political partyCDU
Alma materFree University of Berlin

Ernst Benda (15 January 1925 – 2 March 2009) was a German legal scholar, politician and judge. He served as the fourth president of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany from 1971 to 1983. Benda briefly served as Minister of the Interior of Germany (1968 to 1969).

Ernst Benda was born in Berlin, the son of an engineer. Following school, he served in the Kriegsmarine from 1943 to 1945. After the war, he studied law at the Humboldt University of Berlin in East Berlin, but in 1948 moved to the University of Wisconsin and then to the Free University of Berlin in West Berlin. 1956 he started to work as a lawyer in Berlin.

From 1946 Benda was a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He was one of the founders, in 1948, of the Kampfgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit (KgU) ("Combat Group against Inhumanity"), an anti-communist organization operating in the GDR and which received financial support from various Western intelligence agencies and the FGR government. From 1954 to 1957 he was a member of the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin, the parliament of Berlin. 1957 he was elected to the Bundestag, the West German parliament.[1] In 1965 he was involved in bringing significant changes to West Germany's statutes of limitations for murder. Without these changes, it would not have been possible to bring charges of murder against erstwhile National Socialists. Since 1967 he was Secretary of State in the German interior ministry and since 1968 Minister of the Interior. 1969 he was appointed as a judge to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. From 1971 to 1983 he was president of the court. From 1984 Benda was a professor of law at the University of Freiburg.

Awards and honours

1974 Grand Cross of Merit of the Italian Republic
1975 Grand Gold Medal with Ribbon for Services to the Republic of Austria
1983 Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
1974 Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Law, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
1978 Honorary Professor at the University of Trier
1978 Pipe smoker of the year
1987 Heinz-Herbert Karry Prize [de]


  1. ^ "Die Mitglieder des Deutschen Bundestages - 1.-13. Wahlperiode: Alphabetisches Gesamtverzeichnis; Stand: 28. Februar 1998" [The members of the German Bundestag - 1st - 13th term of office: Alphabetical complete index] (PDF). (in German). Deutscher Bundestag, Wissenschaftliche Dienste des Bundestages (WD 3/ZI 5). 1998-02-28. Retrieved 2020-05-21.

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