Volker Rühe was the first Minister of Defence to send German troops on peace-keeping operations outside the NATO area. The need for reform of the armed forces became more and more obvious during his term in office.
Volker Rühe was born in Hamburg on 25 September 1942. There, he studied English language and literature from 1962 to 1968, and subsequently became a grammar school teacher.
Rühe soon took over the chairmanship of the Foreign and Domestic Policy Committee of his parliamentary group. He advanced within the CDU, too, and held the position of secretary general of his party from 1989 until he assumed office as Minister of Defence.Upon Gerhard Stoltenberg's resignation, Rühe became Federal Minister of Defence of the Kohl government on 2 April 1992.While he was in office, international operations abroad were gradully added to the Bundeswehr mission of national defence. The German Armed Forces supported the UN missions in Cambodia, Somalia, and in the Balkans and thus gathered first experience in foreign operations.
In Europe, too, the Bundeswehr had to get adjusted to its new role. The first international army corps with German participation were established. In addition to that, cooperation with the former Eastern Bloc countries gradually gathered momentum.
Concurrently, the Bundeswehr concluded its extensive disarmament efforts, and in September 1993, the Minister of Defence moved into his second official seat, the historic Bendlerblock building in Berlin.When the Kohl government lost in the elections, Rühe also lost his post as Minister of Defence on 28 October 1998.In the very same year, he was elected deputy chairman of the CDU. Rühe took over again his position as spokesman for foreign, security, domestic and development aid policy in the Bundestag.