Joschka Fischer

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Joschka Fischer
File:Joschka Fischer 2014.jpg
Vice Chancellor of Germany
In office
27 October 1998 – 22 November 2005
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Preceded by Klaus Kinkel
Succeeded by Franz Müntefering
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
27 October 1998 – 22 November 2005
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Preceded by Klaus Kinkel
Succeeded by Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Minister of Environment and Energy of Hesse
In office
12 December 1985 – 9 February 1987
Prime Minister Holger Börner
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Armin Clauss (Acting)
In office
5 April 1991 – 5 October 1994
Prime Minister Hans Eichel
Preceded by Karlheinz Weimar
Succeeded by Rupert von Plottnitz
Deputy Minister-President of Hesse
In office
5 April 1991 – 5 October 1994
Prime Minister Hans Eichel
Preceded by Wolfgang Gerhardt
Succeeded by Rupert von Plottnitz
Minister of Federal Affairs of Hesse
In office
5 April 1991 – 5 October 1994
Prime Minister Hans Eichel
Preceded by Wolfgang Gerhardt (Agent of Federal Affairs)
Succeeded by Rupert von Plottnitz
Personal details
Born Joseph Martin Fischer
(1948-04-12) 12 April 1948 (age 71)
Gerabronn, Germany
Political party Alliance '90/The Greens

Joseph Martin "Joschka" Fischer (born 12 April 1948) is a German politician of the Alliance '90/The Greens. He served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany in the cabinet of Gerhard Schröder from 1998 to 2005. Fischer has been a leading figure in the West German Greens since the 1970s, and according to opinion polls,[1] he was the most popular politician in Germany for most of the government's duration. Following the September 2005 election, in which the Schröder government was defeated, he left office on November 22, 2005. In September 2010 he supported the creation of the Spinelli Group, a europarliamentarian initiative founded with a view to reinvigorate the strive for federalisation of the European Union.

Early life

Fischer was born in Gerabronn in Baden-Württemberg, the third child of a butcher, whose family had lived in Budakeszi, Hungary, for several generations. Fischer's family had to leave Hungary in 1946 after it was occupied by the Soviet Union, and ethnic Germans were persecuted and expelled by the authorities. His nickname Joschka is derived from the Hungarian Jóska, diminutive of Joseph (Hungarian József). He was brought up Catholic and served in his childhood as an altar boy in his parish in Oeffingen.[2] Fischer dropped out of high school in 1965, and started an apprenticeship as a photographer, which he quit in 1966. Because Fischer never gained a school-leaving certificate, he never attended a university or a college. He neither did compulsory military service nor the alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors, because he failed his physical examination due to poor eyesight.[3]

In 1967, he became active in the German student movement and left-wing movement (post-) 1968 (the so-called Spontis), first in Stuttgart and after 1968 in Frankfurt am Main. For his regular income, Fischer took several low-wage jobs, such as working in a left-wing bookstore in Frankfurt. During this period, he began attending university events, including lectures organized by left-wing revolutionary students by Theodor W. Adorno, Jürgen Habermas and Oskar Negt.[4] He studied the works of Marx, Mao and Hegel and became a member of the militant group, Revolutionärer Kampf (Revolutionary Struggle). Fischer was a leader in several street battles involving the radical Putzgruppe (literally "cleaning squad", with the first syllable being an acronym for Proletarische Union für Terror und Zerstörung, "Proletarian Union for Terror and Destruction"), which attacked a number of police officers. Photos of one such brawl in March 1973, which were later to haunt Fischer, show him clubbing policeman Rainer Marx,[5] to whom he later publicly apologized.

Fischer is a close friend of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, whom he met during that time. In 1971, he began working for the car manufacturer Opel and attempted to organise his fellow workers for the coming communist revolution. (This was not organising on behalf of a regular labour union: the vast majority of Opel's workers had already been organised for decades by IG Metall, the German metalworkers' union.) This resulted in his dismissal from the company after six months. Fischer then continued making a living with unskilled work while continuing his activism. He worked as a taxi driver from 1976 to 1981 and later in a bookstore in Frankfurt.

In the Deutscher Herbst (German autumn) of 1977, Germany was rattled by a series of left-wing terrorist attacks by the Red Army Faction (RAF) and Revolutionary Cells (RZ). According to Fischer's own account, witnessing these events, particularly the kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer and the Entebbe hijacking,[6][7] made him renounce violence as a means for political change. Instead, he became involved in the new social movements and later in the newly founded Green Party, mainly in the state of Hesse.

In May 1981, the Hessian Secretary of Commerce Heinz-Herbert Karry was murdered with a firearm that in 1973 had been transported in Fischer's car, along with other weapons stolen from an American army base.[8] Fischer maintained he had given the car to the later terrorist Hans-Joachim Klein solely for the purpose of having Klein fit it with a new engine. Only later had Fischer learned that his car had been used to transport stolen weapons.[citation needed]

As Foreign Minister, Fischer apologised for the violence of his Putzgruppe days, without disassociating himself from the radical movement. Some critics continue to charge that Fischer was the leading figure of a 1976 discussion that led to the use of Molotov cocktails in an upcoming demonstration in support of RAF member Ulrike Meinhof. Fischer was arrested on May 14, 1976 as a suspect in the Molotov cocktail attacks on police, but was released after two days. Fischer stated that he never used Molotov cocktails against the police. The firebombing of policeman Jürgen Weber's police car left Weber with burns over 60% of his body.[5]

Fischer has also been criticised for attending a 1969 conference of the Palestine Liberation Organization, where Yasser Arafat called for an all-out war on Israel "until the end".[9]

Green politician

File:Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F065084-0014, Bonn, Pressekonferenz der Grünen, Bundestagswahl.jpg

From 1983 to 1985, Fischer was a member of the Bundestag for the Green party. His stint in federal parliament saw him frequently engage in a frank and confrontational debating style, exemplified by an incident on 18 October 1984, when he addressed Richard Stücklen, then vice president of the parliament, with the words: "If I may say so, Mr. President, you are an asshole" (German: "Mit Verlaub, Herr Präsident, Sie sind ein Arschloch."). In 1985, Fischer became Minister for the Environment in the Landtag of Hesse in the first governmental Red-Green coalition between the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Greens. Fischer caused a stir when he appeared at his oath of office ceremony wearing trainers. These sneakers are now part of the shoe collection at the German Leather and Shoe Museum in Offenbach,_Hesse.

Fischer also expressed his thoughts very frankly in the periodical of the Hessian Green party "Stichwort Grün". In the edition of October 1989—one month before the fall of the Berlin Wall—he penned an article with the heading: "Der Wiedervereinigung die Schnauze verbieten!" (Shutting up the re-unification!)[citation needed]

Fischer was again environment minister in Hessen from 1991 to 1994 and then became co-chairman of the Greens' parliamentary faction in the Bundestag. Fischer was respected for his oratory skills, as well as for his charisma on the political stage. For a large part of the 1990s, with the social democrats languishing in the opinion polls, Fischer's admirers referred to him as the "real" leader of the opposition.[citation needed] He parlayed his clout into political success, as he moved the Greens to the centre ground of German politics, paving the way for their first participation in the nation's federal government.

Foreign Minister

File:Vladimir Putin 13 February 2001-2.jpg

In September 1998, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, led by Gerhard Schröder, defeated the Christian Democratic Union government of Helmut Kohl. The SPD's 41% and the Greens' 7% of the vote set the two parties on a possible path to government through a coalition. Schröder stated his preference for a red-green coalition, as did an overwhelming majority of SPD members.[citation needed] After several weeks of negotiations, a SPD-Green government took power on 27 October 1998, with Fischer appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In 1999, foreign minister Fischer supported German military participation in the Kosovo War. This proved to be a highly controversial position since Fischer's plan not only clashed with the largely pacifist philosophy of The Greens, but because it also supported for the first time since World War II active participation of German soldiers in combat. Fischer justified this military involvement with allegations that Serbia was planning to commit genocide against the Kosovo Albanians.

Although Fischer was also in favour of stationing German troops in Afghanistan, he advised chancellor Schröder not to join the war in Iraq. Fischer famously confronted United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the secretary's purported evidence for Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction ("Excuse me, I am not convinced"). Fischer is a good friend of Kofi Annan,[citation needed] and by 2005 he was the second longest-serving foreign minister in German postwar history (after Hans-Dietrich Genscher).

In 2005, critics charged that Fischer's relaxing of controls on visa regulations for Ukraine, would allow illegal immigrants to enter Germany with fake identities.[10] A parliamentary committee was established to examine the case, and unlike in other such committee hearings, Fischer's statement (and that of other top officials) was shown live on public television. Fischer's appearance before the committee lasted twelve hours. (See German Visa Affair 2005).

After the defeat of the coalition government in the 2005 election, Fischer announced that he would retire to the backbench. "After 20 years of power, now I want my freedom back", Fischer said.[citation needed] On 13 October 2005, it was announced that Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the SPD would succeed Fischer as foreign minister.

Life after politics

From September 2006 until 2007, Joschka Fischer was a senior fellow at the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, and as a visiting professor co-taught with Wolfgang F. Danspeckgruber at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, both at Princeton University. He has also spoken at other American universities on various topics in foreign affairs and international relations. "A billion Europeans, from Vancouver to Vladivostok."

In 2007, he joined the Arab Democracy Foundation as a founding member of its Board of Trustees.

Since 2008, Fischer has been employed with the Albright Group, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm led by Madeleine Albright.[11]

In 2009, Fischer took a post as adviser to the Nabucco pipeline project, in which the German RWE company is also involved. According to media reports, the “six-digit salary” consultancy contract has already been signed.[12]

On 15 September 2010 Fischer supported the new initiative Spinelli Group, which was founded to reinvigorate efforts towards federalisation of the European Union (EU). Other prominent supporters are: Jacques Delors, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Guy Verhofstadt, Andrew Duff, Elmar Brok.

Private life

Fischer has consistently been the among the most popular German politicians, for several years holding a leading position in opinion polls, even among supporters of other parties. This popularity may be attributed to the rise of The Greens as well as to his office as foreign minister of Germany, which continues to be one of the most prestigious political offices in Germany.

Until 1996, Fischer had been an outspoken connoisseur of good wines and food (regularly betting cases of expensive wine with opposition politicians on the outcome of elections) and had some body weight. Within a relatively short time he managed to lose a visible amount of weight. He claimed that this was due to his giving up alcoholic drinks completely and changing his diet to a vegetarian one. In 2000, he covered the topic of his weight loss by writing the book My Long Race Towards Myself on his experience, which became an immediate bestseller. Half a year before becoming foreign minister, he had his marathon debut at the 1998 Hamburg Marathon (clocking 3:41)[13] As minister, he finished New York in 1999 (3:55)[14] and Berlin in 2000 (3:55)[15] Afterwards, he reduced training and during the months preceding the Iraq War, Fischer began putting on weight again.

Fischer was married to German-Iranian film producer and screen writer Minu Barati in 2005. It is his fifth marriage. His two children with his previous partner and eventual wife, Inge Vogel (to whom he was married from 1984-1987), were born in 1979 and 1983, respectively. At the time of his wedding with Barati in 2005, she was mother to a six-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, while Fischer's children were 23 and 26 of age at the time. The couple lives with Barati‍‍`s daughter.[16][17]

In 2004, he commissioned German heraldist Dieter Krieger to produce a coat of arms, which was registered to the Rhein-Main Wappenrolle. The arms are a type of a "Canting arms"; party per fesse silver and gules, in chief crossed axes with red blades and black handles, in base, a fish in the first. Crest of the red eagle's wings, mantling red doubled silver.[18][19]

He describes himself as Catholic, but not very religious.[20]


  1. "Weiterhin große Unzufriedenheit mit den Spitzenpolitikern" (in Deutsch). July 4, 2003. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. M. Drobinski. "Vor dem Altar gestählt fürs Leben".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Christoph Schult. "Zivildienst: Hat sich Joschka Fischer gedrückt?". Spiegel Online. Archived from the original on April 18, 2001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Paul Hockenhos, Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic, Oxford University Press, 2007, p 86
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cohen, Roger (January 15, 2001). "Germany's Foreign Minister Is Pursued by His Early Firebrand Self". New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Hari, Johann (November 27, 2005). "The Red and the Green". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kelly, Michael (14 February 200). "Who is Joschka Fischer?". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 8, 2003. Check date values in: |date= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Karacs, Imre (3 August 1998). "Kohl turns his fire on the Greens". The Independent. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved July 2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Paul Berman, Power and the Idealists (NY: Soft Skull Press, 2005), pp. 9-10, and Chapter 1, passim.
  10. "Germany's Fischer preps Kyiv students for future". Kyiv Post. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on April 22, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Albright Group". Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved August 27, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Ulrich Rippert. "Joschka Fischer takes post as Nabucco pipeline adviser". World Socialist Web Site. Archived from the original on July 4, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Herbert Seffrey. "Personal Trainer". Archived from the original on October 29, 2001. Retrieved November 28, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Gisela Oswald (August 11, 1999). "New York Marathon: Fischer im Ziel". Spiegel Online. Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2012. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Joschka Fischer auf Rang 8.919" (in Deutsch). RP Online. October 9, 2000. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved November 28, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Fischer marries for fifth time". Gulf Daily News. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Franziska v. Mutius (July 27, 2004). "Joschka Fischer setzt auf Tradition und kauft ein Familienwappen". Die Welt. Archived from the original on March 5, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Bundesaußenminister a. D. Joschka Fischer erhält Wappenbrief der Rhein-Main-Wappenrolle (with Picture) on Website of Schlosses Alsbach
  20. Dennis Kremer (October 10, 2007). "Joschka Fischer und die sieben Todsünden". Die Welt.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

The following sources reflect the views of U.S. adversaries of Fischer and his policies, especially Germany's decision not to participate in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Joschka Fischer writes a monthly commentary series, "The Rebel Realist", for Project Syndicate, a non-profit association of newspapers around the world.

Joschka Fisher speaks to Leadel.NET, an online Jewish media portal, in a video interview

Political offices
Preceded by
Klaus Kinkel
Vice Chancellor of Germany
Succeeded by
Franz Müntefering
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Academic offices
Preceded by
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Speaker at the College of Europe Opening Ceremony
Succeeded by
José Manuel Barroso