Otto Graf Lambsdorff

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Otto Graf Lambsdorff
Otto-Graf-Lambsdorff b.jpg
Otto-Graf-Lambsdorff in 2001
Federal Minister of Economics
In office
7 October 1977 – 17 September 1982
Preceded by Hans Friderichs
Succeeded by Manfred Lahnstein
In office
4 October 1982 – 24 June 1984
Preceded by Manfred Lahnstein
Succeeded by Martin Bangemann
Chairman of the FDP
In office
Preceded by Martin Bangemann
Succeeded by Klaus Kinkel
Personal details
Born Otto Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von der Wenge Graf Lambsdorff
(1926-12-20)20 December 1926
Aachen, Weimar Germany
Died 5 December 2009(2009-12-05) (aged 82)
Bonn, Germany
Nationality Germany German
Political party FDP
Spouse(s) Renate Lepper (1953–1975)
Alexandra von Quistorp (1995–2009)
Children Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff
Cecilie Gräfin Lambsdorff
Susanne Gräfin Lambsdorff
Alma mater University of Bonn
University of Cologne
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Lutheran

Otto Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von der Wenge Graf Lambsdorff, known as Otto Graf Lambsdorff, (20 December 1926 – 5 December 2009) was a German politician of the Free Democratic Party.


Lambsdorff was born in Aachen (Rhineland) to Herbert Graf Lambsdorff and Eva, née von Schmidt. He attended school in Berlin and Brandenburg an der Havel and became an officer cadet in the Wehrmacht in 1944. In April 1945 he was severely wounded in an Allied strafe attack and lost his lower left leg. Lambsdorff was a prisoner of war until 1946. After World War II he passed his Abitur and studied law at the Universities of Bonn and Cologne where he obtained a PhD. In 1951 he became a member of the liberal FDP, and from 1972 to 1998 he represented this party in the Federal Diet, the Bundestag. He was also chairman of the FDP from 1988 until 1993.[1][2]

Within and outside his party he was known as a representative of the market liberals; a mocking name was der Marktgraf ("the market count", a play on Markgraf, "margrave"). From 1977 until 1982, and again from 1982 until 1984, Graf Lambsdorff was the West German Federal Minister of Economics, when he was forced to resign over the Flick Affair. On 16 February 1987, he was convicted by the Bonn State Court of tax evasion.[3][4]

In 1999 Lambsdorff was appointed as the federal envoy to the negotiations for the compensation of the victims of forced labor in Germany during World War II by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, which led to the establishment of the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future".[5]

He was a member of the scientific advisory board of the Centre Against Expulsions[6] and a jury member of the Franz Werfel Human Rights Award. He was honorary president of Liberal International.[7]


The pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) had been in coalition with the social democratic SPD, but changed direction in the early 1980s.[8] Lambsdorff led the FDP to adopt the market-oriented "Kiel Theses" in 1977; it rejected the Keynesian emphasis on consumer demand, and proposed to reduce social welfare spending, and try to introduce policies to stimulate production and facilitate jobs. Lambsdorff argued that the result would be economic growth, which would itself solve both the social problems and the financial problems. As a consequence switched allegiance to the CDU, and Schmidt lost his parliamentary majority in 1982. For the only time in West Germany's history, the government fell on a vote of no confidence.[9]


The Lambsdorff family is of old Westphalian aristocratic descent, but settled for centuries in the Baltic countries[1] and was hence closely connected to Tsarist and Imperial Russia (see Baltic Germans). Lambsdorff's father served as a tsarist cadet in St. Petersburg and the former Russian foreign minister Vladimir Lambsdorff is one of his relatives.[10]

Since 2004, his nephew Alexander Graf Lambsdorff has represented the FDP in the European Parliament.

Lambsdorff married Renate Lepper in 1953; they had two daughters and a son. He was married to Alexandra von Quistorp from 1995 until his death on 5 December 2009. He is survived by all three children.


Regarding personal names: Graf was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Count. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting. The feminine form is Gräfin.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Obituary in Die Welt (German)
  2. Official Biography (German)
  3. "Otto Graf Lambsdorff before the Flick Commission (2 February 1984)". Two Germanies (1961–1989). GHDI. Retrieved 19 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Friedrich Karl Flick". Times Online – Obituaries. 7 October 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Spiegel (German)
  6. "Scientific Advisory Panel". ZGV. Retrieved 13 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "In Memoriam: Otto Graf Lambsdorff". Liberal International Newsletter (164). Retrieved 13 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Karl H. Cerny, Germany at the polls: the Bundestag elections of the 1980s (1990) p. 113
  9. Frank B. Tipton, A History of Modern Germany since 1815 (2003) 596-99
  10. Zeit, "Ritter der liberalen Sache" (German)

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Adolfo Suárez
President of the Liberal International
Succeeded by
David Steel