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Ludwig Erhard

Erhard on a 2 DM coin

Ludwig Erhard (February 4, 1897 - May 5, 1977) was a West German politician (CDU) and Chancellor of West Germany from 1963 until 1966.

Born in Fürth, Germany, from 1913-1916 Erhard was a commercial apprentice. After his apprenticeship he worked as retail salesman in his father's draper's shop.

He joined the german forces during World War I 1916 as artilleryman, fought in Romania and was seriously injured near Ypres in 1918. Erhard could no longer work as a draper and began to study economics, first in Nuremberg, later in Frankfurt am Main. He earned a doctor of economics in 1925.

During his time in Frankfurt he married Luise Schuster. After his graduation they moved to Fuerth and he became executive in his parents' company in 1925. After three years he became assistant at the Institut für Wirtschaftsbeobachtung der deutschen Fertigware, a marketing research institute. Later, he became deputy director of the institute.

Due to his injuries Erhard did not have to join military forces during World War II. Instead, he worked on concepts for the peace period after the war. Those kind of studies were forbidden by the Nazis who had declared Total war. He lost his job in 1942 but continued to work on his own on the subject. In 1944 he wrote War Finances and Debt Consolidation (orig: Kriegsfinanzierung und Schuldenkonsolidierung). In this study he already assumed that Germany had lost the war. He sent his thoughts to Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, a central figure in the German resistance against Nazi-Germany, who recommended Erhard to his comrades.

After the war Erhard became economic consultant for the American military administration of Bavaria who made him Minister of Economics in the Bavarian cabinet of Wilhelm Hoegner. After the American and British administration had created the Bizone, Erhard became chairman of the Sonderstelle Geld und Kredit in 1947, an expert commission preparing the currency reform.

In 1948 he was elected Director of Economics by the Bizonal Economic Council. On June 20, 1948, the D-Mark was introduced. Erhard abolished the price-fixing and production controls that had been enacted by the military administration. This exceeded his competence, but he succeeded with this courageous step.

In 1949 he stood for election in a constituency in Baden-Württemberg for the first German parliament after the war and gained a direct mandate. Later in the year he joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). In September, Erhard was appointed Minister of Economics in the first cabinet of Konrad Adenauer. His party made his concept of social market economy part of the party platform.

After the resignation of Adenauer in 1963, Erhard was elected Bundeskanzler (Federal Chancellor) with 279 against 180 votes on October 16. In 1965 he was re-elected.

On October 26, 1966, Minister Walter Scheel (FDP) resigned, protesting against the budget released the day before. The other ministers who were members of the FDP followed his example - the coalition was broken. On December 1, Erhard resigned. His successor was Kurt Georg Kiesinger (CDU), who was leading a big coalition. Erhard died in Bonn.

Erhard kept on his political work. He was a member of the German parliament up to his death on May 5, 1977. He is buried in Gmund, near the Tegernsee.

Preceded by:
Konrad Adenauer
Chancellors of Germany Succeeded by:
Kurt Georg Kiesinger