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President of Germany

The President of Germany (German: Bundespräsident) is the head of state of the Federal Republic of Germany. The office today is largely ceremonial, and to prevent the problems that occurred with the Weimar Republic, the Basic Law carefully limits the President's power.

During the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), the Reichspräsident was elected by popular vote and intended to be a figurehead. However, in the later years of the republic, the difficulty in creating a workable parliamentary majority allowed President Paul von Hindenburg to rule by decree, bypassing both the Chancellor and the Reichstag (parliament).

In 1934, after the death of Hindenburg, Adolf Hitler, who had previously been appointed Reichskanzler (chancellor) by Hindenburg on January 30, 1933, solidified his hold on power by merging the offices of Chancellor and President to form a new office called Führer und Reichskanzler (Leader and Reich Chancellor; see Gleichschaltung). After Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, days before World War II formally ended in Germany, the office was briefly held by Karl Doenitz, who surrendered Germany to the Allies on May 5.

Table of contents

Office holders

Weimar Republic

1919-1925 Friedrich Ebert
1925-1934 Paul von Hindenburg

Nazi Era

1934-1945 Adolf Hitler
1945 Karl Doenitz

Federal Republic of Germany

1949 Karl Arnold[?] (Acting)
1949-1959 Theodor Heuss[?]
1959-1969 Heinrich Lübke[?]
1969-1974 Gustav Heinemann
1974-1979 Walter Scheel[?]
1979-1984 Karl Carstens
1984-1994 Richard von Weizsäcker[?]
1994-1999 Roman Herzog[?]
1999- Johannes Rau

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