Born in Ebingen, Germany Kiesinger was educated in Berlin and became a lawyer. He joined the Nazi Party in 1933. From 1940 Kiesinger worked at the Reich foreign ministry's radio propaganda department. After the war he was interned and spent several months in the Ludwigsburg camp before being acquitted by the denazification courts.
At the first post-war national elections Kiesinger joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and won a seat. In 1951 he became a member of the CDU executive board. He was appointed minister-president of the Baden-Württemberg government (December 17 1958 - December 1 1966). In 1962-1963, Kiesinger served as the president of the Bundesrat.
In 1966 following the collapse of the existing CDU/CSU-FDP coalition Kiesinger was elected to replace Ludwig Erhard as Chancellor, heading a new CDU/CSU-SPD alliance. The government formed by Kiesinger remained in power for nearly three years with the SPD leader Willy Brandt as Deputy Federal Chancellor and Foreign Minister. Kiesinger reduced tensions with the Soviet bloc nations establishing diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia but he opposed any major conciliatory moves.
In the election of 1969, the SPD preferred to form a leftist coalition with the FDP, ending the uninterrupted post-war reign of the CDU chancellors. Kiesinger was succeeded as Chancellor by Willy Brandt.
Kiesinger continued to head the CDU/CSU in opposition until July 1971 and remained a member of the Bundestag until 1980.
He died in Tübingen, West Germany.
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