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Maizière, Lothar de (1940–)

Last premier of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany). The career of Lothar de Maizière is perhaps the most unusual of any Soviet bloc politician. Born in Nordhausen, Germany, on 2 March 1940, he started off as a violinist, studying at the College of Music in Berlin and earning a position with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. He then entered law school at Humboldt University. In 1957, he joined the Christian Democratic Union, one of the five bloc parties allowed to operate in the GDR, as well as the Synod of Protestant Churches. He became vice president of the latter organization in 1985.

When Erich Honecker's regime collapsed on 9 November 1989 and Hans Modrow formed a new communist reform cabinet, Maizière became minister for religious affairs and the deputy premier. He resigned both posts in January 1990, however, advocating the union of the two Germanies. Campaigning on a reunification platform, he won election to the East German parliament in the first and only free elections held in that state. He became premier of a coalition government, succeeding Modrow. Within months, he negotiated the end of the GDR.

Assigned to the post of minister without portfolio in the unification government of Helmut Kohl, Maizière once again resigned, this time over allegations that he had worked earlier in his career for the East German Ministry of State Security (Stasi). Maizière never faced any formal charges, however. He currently resides in Berlin.

Timothy C. Dowling


Further Reading
Gaus, Günter. Zur Person Friedrich Schorlemmer, Lothar de Maziere, Gregor Gysi, Ingrid Köppe, Christoph Hein, Hans Modrow: Sechs Porträts in Frage und Antwort. Berlin: Volk und Welt, 1990.; Jarausch, Konrad. The Rush to German Unity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.; Maier, Charles. Dissolution: The Crisis of Communism and the End of East Germany. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997.
 

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