Gerda Hasselfeldt
Gerda Hasselfeldt 2013 (cropped).jpg
President of the German Red Cross
Assumed office
1 December 2017
Preceded byRudolf Seiters
First Deputy Leader of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag
In office
14 March 2011 – 24 October 2017
LeaderVolker Kauder
Preceded byHans-Peter Friedrich
Succeeded byAlexander Dobrindt
Vice President of the Bundestag
In office
18 October 2005 – 14 March 2011
PresidentNorbert Lammert
Preceded byNorbert Lammert
Succeeded byEduard Oswald
Federal Minister of Health
In office
18 January 1991 – 5 May 1992
ChancellorHelmut Kohl
Preceded byUrsula Lehr
Succeeded byHorst Seehofer
Minister for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development
In office
21 April 1989 – 18 January 1991
ChancellorHelmut Kohl
Preceded byOscar Schneider
Succeeded byIrmgard Schwaetzer
Member of the Bundestag
for Fürstenfeldbruck
In office
2 December 1990 – 24 October 2017
Preceded byEicke Götz
Succeeded byKatrin Staffler
Member of the Bundestag
for Bavaria
In office
24 March 1987 – 2 December 1990
Personal details
Born (1950-07-07) 7 July 1950 (age 72)
Straubing, Bavaria, Germany
Political partyChristian Social Union
Spouse(s)Wolfgang Zeitlmann
Alma materUniversity of Regensburg
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Gerda Hasselfeldt (born 7 July 1950)[1] is a German politician of the Christian Social Union (CSU) who served as deputy chairperson of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group and chairwoman of the Bundestag group of CSU parliamentarians. Following her departure from active politics, she became President of the German Red Cross in 2018.[2]

Gerda Hasselfeldt in the German Bundestag, 2014
Gerda Hasselfeldt in the German Bundestag, 2014

Political career

Gerda Hasselfeldt alongside Volker Kauder, Michael Grosse-Brömer and Max Straubinger at the Bundestag, 2014
Gerda Hasselfeldt alongside Volker Kauder, Michael Grosse-Brömer and Max Straubinger at the Bundestag, 2014

An economist by training,[3] Hasselfeldt first became a Member of the German Bundestag after the 1987 federal elections. She was appointed Federal Minister for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development by then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl in a cabinet reshuffle[4] two years later.[5]

From 1991, Hasselfeldt served as Federal Minister for Health. She announced her resignation on 27 April 1992, saying the arrest of her close aide Reinhard Hoppe for allegedly spying for Poland had damaged her health.[6][7] She was succeeded by Horst Seehofer.[8]

Hasselfeldt was financial policy spokeswoman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group for seven years. In 2002 she became the first deputy chairwoman of the parliamentary group, under the leadership of chairwoman Angela Merkel.[9] During the 2005 election campaign, she took charge of agriculture, consumer protection and the environment in Merkel’s nine-member shadow cabinet.[10]

After the federal elections in 2005 and 2009, Hasselfeldt was elected Vice President of the German Bundestag. She held this office until she was elected to the head of the Bundestag group of CSU parliamentarians in 2011, succeeding Hans-Peter Friedrich.[11] From 2011 until 2017, she led the group with her co-chair from the CDU, Volker Kauder.

In that capacity, Hasselfeldt was also a member of the parliament's Council of Elders, which – among other duties – determines daily legislative agenda items and assigning committee chairpersons based on party representation. Hasselfeldt also served on the Committee on the Election of Judges, which is in charge of appointing judges to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. From 2014, she was also a member of a parliamentary body in charge of appointing judges to the other Highest Courts of Justice, namely the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG), the Federal Fiscal Court (BFH), the Federal Labour Court (BAG), and the Federal Social Court (BSG).

In the negotiations to form a coalition government following the 2013 federal elections, Hasselfeldt was part of the 15-member leadership circle chaired by Angela Merkel, Horst Seehofer and Sigmar Gabriel.

In April 2016, Hasselfeldt announced that she would not stand in the 2017 federal elections and, instead, resign from active politics by the end of the parliamentary term.[12]

Life after politics

From 2018 until 2019, Hasselfeldt served on the German government's so-called coal commission, which is tasked to develop a masterplan before the end of the year on how to phase-out coal and create a new economic perspective for the country's coal-mining regions.[13] In 2019, she was appointed by Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller as co-chair (alongside Bärbel Dieckmann) of a commission in charge of drafting recommendations on how to address the causes of displacement and migration.[14]

Political views

Social policy

When members of the Merkel's Christian Democrats in 2012 called on parliament to grant gay couples the same tax benefits as married heterosexuals, Hasselfeldt and successfully railed against the idea." Marriage between a man and a woman must be especially protected because it is fundamentally oriented towards the propagation of life —which isn't the case in homosexual relationships," said Hasselfeldt.[15][16] In June 2017, she voted against Germany's introduction of same-sex marriage.[17]

In a 2012 letter to CEO Jeff Bezos, Hasselfeldt asked the online retailer to suspend sales of a children's puzzle bearing the image of the crematorium at the Dachau concentration camp, calling the product 'a slap in the face' for Holocaust victims. Just 12 miles from the Bavarian capital Munich, Dachau lies within Hasselfeldt's constituency.[18]

In 2014, Hasselfeldt publicly rejected complaints against her party over its slogan "those who commit fraud will be [kicked] out" - a claim that migrant workers could exploit social welfare.[19]

European policies

A proponent of strict austerity policies during the Eurozone crisis, Hasselfeldt helped organize a majority of German lawmakers to approve a series of measures to assist Greece recover from its government debt crisis.[20] In 2011, she demanded that Italy must do more to convince financial markets of its creditworthiness after a rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's.[21] In 2013, she said Germany was watching France "with a degree of concern" and criticized French President François Hollande for not implementing spending cuts and structural reforms with "sufficient vigor."[22] In a reaction to the European Commission's decision to give France two extra years to cut its deficit in early 2015, Hasselfeldt wrote to the body's president Jean-Claude Juncker in a letter to say that the timing of the decision – coinciding with the euro zone vehemently urging Greece to stick to rules set by the Eurogroup despite significant domestic resistance – "should not create the dangerous impression that we want to apply double standards," and that the same rules needed to apply to all countries whatever their size.[23]

Criticizing Herman Van Rompuy's 2012 road map for a eurozone-wide fiscal policy, Hasselfeldt rejected proposals for a "eurozone fiscal capacity", arguing the idea looked to her like a "transfer union."[24]

In the context of Turkey's largely failed attempted to ban microblogging service Twitter in 2014, Hasselfeldt reaffirmed that "[her] position has always been that Turkey should not be allowed into the EU, and that we are pursuing the principle of privileged partnership."[25] In 2016, Hasselfeldt warned that Britain should not expect to have preferential treatment in case of a Brexit, saying "to me, it is clear: exit means exit. Citizens have to know that with this decision there will be no special treatment for Britain."[26]

NSA surveillance and Edward Snowden

In 2014, Hasselfeldt blocked an opposition bid to bring Edward Snowden to Germany to testify, saying that inviting Snowden to Germany would harm relations with the U.S. and probably force the German government to extradite him to face U.S. espionage charges for unveiling National Security Agency data on surveillance.[27]

Other activities


  1. ^ The International Who's Who of Women 2002 by Elizabeth Sleeman, pg 237
  2. ^ Hasselfeldt kandidiert als Präsidentin des DRK Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 8 September 2017.
  3. ^ William Tuohy (14 April 1989), Kohl Shuffles Cabinet to Aid Image Before Election Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ William Tuohy (14 April 1989), Kohl Shuffles Cabinet to Aid Image Before Election Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ Gerda Hasselfeldt Archived 26 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine CDU/CSU.
  6. ^ German Health Minister Resigns; Alleged Spy In Ministry Uncovered Associated Press, 27 April 1992.
  7. ^ Tamara Jones (29 April 1992), German Reversal Leaves Official Out in the Cold Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Markets and medicine: the politics of health care reform in Britain, Germany ... by Susan Giaimo, pgs 111-112
  9. ^ Gerda Hasselfeldt Archived 26 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine CDU/CSU.
  10. ^ Judy Dempsey (18 August 2005), Merkel puts small team forward International Herald Tribune.
  11. ^ Gerda Hasselfeldt Archived 26 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine CDU/CSU.
  12. ^ Eva Quadbeck (5 April 2016), "Ich werde nicht wieder für den Bundestag kandidieren" Rheinische Post.
  13. ^ Andreas Franke (6 June 2018), Germany launches commission tasked to develop coal exit masterplan S&P Global Platts.
  14. ^ 2019 bereits mehr als 1000 Tote im Mittelmeer Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 1 October 2019.
  15. ^ Madeline Chambers (8 August 2012), Merkel's CDU breaks taboo with call for gay couple tax equality Reuters.
  16. ^ Mary M. Lane (10 August 2012), German Coalition Split on Gay Rights Wall Street Journal.
  17. ^ Diese Unionsabgeordneten stimmten für die Ehe für alle Die Welt, 30 June 2017.
  18. ^ Kristen Allen (1 October 2012), 'A Slap in the Face for Victims': Amazon Criticized for Selling Dachau Puzzle Spiegel Online.
  19. ^ Caritas charity slams CSU anti-migrant slogan Deutsche Welle, 7 January 2014.
  20. ^ Patrick Donahue (27 November 2012), German Lawmakers Set to Approve Greek Aid Plan This Week Businessweek.
  21. ^ Brian Parkin (20 September 2011), Italy ‘Needs to Exert Itself,’ German CSU’s Hasselfeldt Says Bloomberg.
  22. ^ Andrew Trotman (23 April 2013), Angela Merkel: 'Austerity makes it sound evil, I call it balancing the budget' Daily Telegraph.
  23. ^ Michelle Martin (1 March 2015), Merkel's Bavarian allies criticize EU's exception for French deficit Reuters.
  24. ^ Andreas Rinke (11 December 2012), Merkel lowers expectations for EU summit to MPs Reuters.
  25. ^ Kay-Alexander Scholz (2 April 2014), Stop Turkey's EU accession, say German parties Deutsche Welle.
  26. ^ Andreas Rinke (26 April 2016), "Out means out", German lawmakers warn Britain on Brexit Reuters.
  27. ^ Patrick Donahue and Arne Delfs (9 May 2014), Merkel Ally Says Snowden Would Face U.S. Extradition by Germany Bloomberg.
  28. ^ Board of Trusteees German Foundation for Active Citizenship and Volunteering (DSEE).
  29. ^ Advisory Board, Federal Academy for Security Policy (BAKS).