The Hon. Dr. Rita Süssmuth

Former President of the German Parliament (Bundestag)


The Hon. Dr. Rita Süssmuth is a German politician and member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). She served as President of the Bundestag from 1988 until 1998.

Dr. Süssmuth earned a degree in Romance Languages and History in Munster, Tubingen, and Paris in 1961, and went on to earn a Masters in Educational Science, Sociology, and Psychology. Dr. Süssmuth also holds a PhD from the University of Munster. After graduating in 1964, she entered the field of academia, and became a faculty member in Education at the University of Dortmund, Ruhr University, and their predecessor institutions from 1966 to 1972. Since 2005, she has been the President of the OTA Hochschule, a private university in Berlin.

Dr. Süssmuth joined the CDU in 1981 and served as Director of the Institute for Women and Society in Hanover from 1982 to 1985. She actively started her political career in 1985 as the Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth under Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In 1986, she became the Federal Leader of the Women’s Union and acquired an influential position in her party. She became a member of the Bundestag in 1987 and maintained the post until 2002. She is currently a member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, an organization established in 2008 to monitor tolerance in Europe and prepare recommendations to European governments and IGOs on fighting xenophobia and anti-Semitism. In addition, she currently sits on the Advisory Board for the German Foundation for World Population.

In 2006, Dr. Süssmuth was awarded the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Sexual Reform for her courageous and far-sighted approach in the fight against HIV/AIDS during her tenure as Federal Minister from 1985-1988. She has written and co-authored a number of publications, some of which include, AIDS: A Way out of Fear (1987), Anyone Who Does Not Fight has Already Lost (2000), and Migration and Integration: A Test Case for our Society (2006).