Uwe Barschel

Uwe Barschel (May 13 1944 in Glienicke - October 11 1987 in Geneva) was a West German politician (CDU) and from 1982 to 1987 Minister-President in the State of Schleswig-Holstein. The circumstances of his death are still not entirely clear, and inquires haven't been able to prove or disprove theories of suicide or murder.

Brief Background

Barschel grew up in Börnsen near Hamburg. He was raised by his grandparents. In 1971 Barschel was licensed to work as a lawyer. In addition to his political activity, Barschel published about public law and political science.

Political career

Barschel joined the Junge Union in 1960. Two years later he became a member of the CDU. In Schleswig-Holstein Barschel was chairman of the Junge Union from 1967 to 1971 and deputy chairman of the CDU since 1969.

Barschel was a member of the Landtag in Schleswig-Holstein from 1971 until his death. In 1979 he was appointed finance minister by then minister-president Gerhard Stoltenberg. In the same year he took over the Ministry of the Interior and he became one of the delegates from Schleswig-Holstein in the Bundesrat.

After Stoltenberg had been appointed Federal Finance Minister by new chancellor Helmut Kohl Barschel was elected the new minister-president in October 1982. Aged only 38, he was the youngest minister-president in history of the FRG.

Under his leadership the CDU defended their absolute majority at the State elections in 1983.In 1985 Barschel was one of the founding members of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival.In May 1987 shortly before the beginning of the election campaign he narrowly survived a plane crash at Lübeck Airport.

"Waterkant-Gate"

The so-called "Waterkant-Gate" (an allusion to the Watergate affair, with "Waterkant" from Low German: "coast") became one of the biggest political scandals in German post-war history.Barschel's media adviser Reiner Pfeiffer told German news magazine "Der Spiegel" that he was ordered by Barschel to spy on the SPD's top candidate for the upcoming state elections Björn Engholm with the aim of bringing an anonymous charge against Engholm because of suspicions of tax evasion. Pfeiffer also claimed that he was given orders to install a bugging device in Barschel's phone and accuse the SPD of being the initiator.

Following these events the CDU lost votes at the election and the SPD became the strongest party in Schleswig-Holstein. However, the CDU managed to start negotiations for a coalition with the FDP.

On September 18, five days after the elections, Barschel denied all accusations and made the following statement to the press: "„Ich gebe Ihnen mein Ehrenwort, ich wiederhole: mein Ehrenwort, dass die gegen mich erhobenen Vorwürfe haltlos sind“" ("I give you my word of honour, I repeat: my word of honour, that the charges brought against me are unfounded.").

Even so Barschel resigned as minister president on October 2. In 1987, a first investigation committee yielded no significant results; a second, in 1995, came to the conclusion that Barschel's guilt could not be proven.

On October 11, 1987, Barschel was found dead by two journalists working for the German magazine "Stern". His body was fully dressed and lying in a bathtub filled with water at his room 317 at Hotel "Beau-Rivage" in Geneva, Switzerland. Even today (2007), the cause of his death remains unproven and highly controversial. Among others, the drug Lorazepam was found in his blood.

In his book "Geheimakte Mossad" former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky nourishes suspicions that Barschel was killed by an Israeli killer commando, claiming Barschel had too much inside knowledge about an Israeli-Iranian arms deals.

In addition, the police investigation found indications that another person had been in Barschel's room at the time of his death. The official autopsy found some traces of force having been applied.

Barschel left behind a wife and four children who are convinced that Barschel was killed.

References

* Thomas Ramge: "Die großen Polit-Skandale. Eine andere Geschichte der Bundesrepublik". Campus Verlag 2003, ISBN 3593370697 ( [http://books.google.de/books?id=XYVH4ptJN9IC&pg=PA198&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=0_0&sig=ACfU3U38C9UYD4es1r4ZYBq3V7vsSG2D_A restricted online version (google books)] )
* [http://www.todayinhistory.de/index.php?what=thmanu&manu_id=1609&tag=11&monat=10&year=2000&dayisset=1&lang=en Article on Uwe Barschel on the website of the Deutsche Welle]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DEED81231F930A25753C1A961948260 "Family Says German Was Slain". Reuters article on the website of the New York Times]


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  • Barschel-Affäre — (auch Barschel Pfeiffer Affäre) ist die Bezeichnung für einen politischen Skandal, der sich 1987 in Schleswig Holstein ereignete. Ihren Namen erhielt die Affäre nach dem damaligen Ministerpräsidenten Schleswig Holsteins, Uwe Barschel (CDU), dem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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