Gerhard Stoltenberg was the first all-German Minister of Defence. One of his tasks was to implement the unification of the East German Army and the Bundeswehr, too.
Born on 29 September 1928 in Kiel, Dr. Gerhard Stoltenberg was the last Federal Minister of Defence who had been drafted to serve in the Wehrmacht of the Third Reich before the end of the Second World War.
After his release from a prisoner-of-war camp he made up for education he had missed due to military service and attained the Abitur, the German university entrance qualification, and went on to university to study history, sociology, and philosophy, and gained a Ph.D. in 1954.Stoltenberg became a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Schlesweig-Holstein in 1947. In 1954, he gained a seat in the state parliament and was elected to the German Bundestag three years later.In 1965, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard appointed him Federal Minister of Scientific Research. He continued to hold this office also during the Great Coalition betwenn the Union parties and the SPD.In the course of the change of government in 1969 Stoltenberg became the deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag. Two years later, he left the Bundestag and was elected Premier of Schleswig Holstein.
After the end of the Social-Liberal coalition Helmut Kohl appointed him Federal Minster of Finance in 1982. He held this office until he was replaced by Theo Waigel, the new CSU chairman. Thus, Gerhard Stoltenberg became the third Minister of Defence of the Kohl government on 20 April 1989.As a result of the peaceful revolution in East Germany, the Germans were unified again in one common state as of 3 October 1990. On that very same day, Stoltenberg assumed command and control of the all-German armed forces.Now, one of his most urgent tasks was the integration of the former East German Army personnel into the Bundeswehr and the implementation of the defence policy arrangements made with the Four Powers.Furthermore, the political and military framework conditions had to be created for the withdrawal of Allied troops from Germany.On 31 March 1992, Stoltenberg took accepted responsibility for the controversial provision of tanks to Turkey and resigned from his office as Minister of Defence.He continued to be a member of the German Bundestag until 1998. Gerhard Stoltenberg died on 23 November 2001 in Bad Godesberg.