Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

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Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (2009).jpg
Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development
In office
27 October 1998 – 27 October 2009
Preceded by Carl-Dieter Spranger
Succeeded by Dirk Niebel
Personal details
Born (1942-11-21) November 21, 1942 (age 79)
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Nationality German
Political party SPD
Alma mater Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Profession Teacher
Website heidi-wieczorek-zeul.de

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (born November 21, 1942 in Frankfurt am Main) is a German politician and a member of the Social Democratic Party since 1965.


Wieczorek-Zeul is a prominent figure of the Social Democrats' left wing and is often called "Red Heidi". From 1974 to 1977, she was the Jusos' chair which is the youth organisation of the SPD (Young Socialists).[1]

After the resignation of party leader Björn Engholm in 1993, she stood for the Social Democrats' candidacy for the chancellor's office,[2] but lost to Rudolf Scharping. Scharping won 40% of all votes cast by the party members, Schröder 33% and Wieczorek-Zeul 27%.[3] It was the first time (and so far only time) the party members were asked to elect the new party leader.

When Gerhard Schröder (SPD) became German chancellor in 1998, she served as Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.

On August 16, 2004, at the 100th anniversary of the start of the Herero and Namaqua Genocide, Wieczorek-Zeul, in her capacity of Germany's Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation, officially apologized for the first time and expressed grief about the genocide, declaring, "We Germans accept our historic and moral responsibility and the guilt incurred by Germans at that time." In addition, she admitted that the massacres were equivalent to genocide. She ruled out paying special compensation, but promised continued economic aid for Namibia which currently amounts to $14m a year.[4]

She kept her office after Schröder's defeat in 2005. She initiated the EU's target of increasing its development aid from 0.51% by 2010 to 0.7% of the GDP by 2015.[1][5]

Around this time too, she visited Kenya's sprawling slum at Mathare 4A, Kasarani District and virtually pitied[clarification needed] Mathare 4A primary school, which had been invaded and harassed by squatters. Today, the old school has been replaced by a new Heidemarie (formally, Mathare 4A) Primary School, courtesy of the German Government through KfW Entwicklungsbank and the government of Kenya.

In July 2006, Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, demanded her resignation after Wieczorek-Zeul had called Israeli use of cluster bombs "totally unacceptable under international law".

In 2009, she criticized statements made by Pope Benedict XVI which claimed that condoms promote AIDS, when in fact they help prevent AIDS.[6]

Other activities


  1. 1.0 1.1 [1][dead link]
  2. Whitney, Craig R. (May 4, 1993). "German Social Democrats' Leader Quits Over Lie". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Crawshaw, Steve (June 14, 1993). "Scharping has tough task as SPD chief: Social Democrats pick a new party leader". The Independent. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Germany admits Namibia genocide". BBC News. 2004-08-14. Retrieved 2008-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. [2][dead link]
  6. Condom backlash for Pope

External links

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