Ludwig Erhard (1897 – 1977)
Born in Fürth, Germany, he joined the German forces during World War I in 1916 as an artilleryman
but was seriously injured in 1918.
After this experience he began to study economics, first in Nuremberg and later in
Frankfurt am Main. After his graduation he became assistant at the Institut für Wirtschaftsbeobachtung
der deutschen Fertigware, a marketing research institute, and later he became
deputy director of the institute.
Due to his injuries, Erhard did not have to join the German military forces
during World War II. Instead, he worked on concepts for a postwar peace;
however, such studies were forbidden by the Nazis, who had declared Total war.
As a result, Erhard lost his job in 1942 but continued to work on the subject
privately. In 1944 he wrote War Finances and Debt Consolidation. In this study he assumed that
Germany had already lost the war. He sent his thoughts to Carl Friedrich
Goerdeler, a central figure in the German resistance against the Nazi
government, who recommended Erhard to his comrades.
After the war Erhard became economic consultant for the American military
administration of Bavaria who made him Minister of Economics in the Bavarian
cabinet of Wilhelm Hoegner. After the American and British administration had
created the Bizone, Erhard became chairman of the Sonderstelle Geld und Kredit
in 1947, an expert commission preparing the currency reform.
In 1948 he was elected Director of Economics by the Bizonal Economic Council. In 1948 the Deutsche Mark was introduced. Erhard abolished the
price-fixing and production controls that had been enacted by the military
administration. This exceeded his authority, but he succeeded with this
In 1949 he stood for election in a constituency in Baden-Württemberg for the
first West German parliament after the war and gained a direct mandate. Later in
the year he joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). In September, Erhard
was appointed Minister of Economics in the first cabinet of Konrad Adenauer. His
party made his concept of social market economy part of the party platform.
After the resignation of Adenauer in 1963, Erhard was elected Chancellor with
279 against 180 votes on October 16. In 1965 he was re-elected.
On October 26, 1966, Minister Walter Scheel (FDP) resigned, protesting against
the budget released the day before. The other ministers who were members of the
FDP followed his example — the coalition was broken. On December 1, Erhard
resigned. His successor was Kurt Georg Kiesinger (CDU), who led a grand
Erhard continued his political work by becoming a member of the West German
parliament up to his death in Bonn on May 5, 1977. He is buried in Gmund, near
the Tegernsee. The Ludwig Erhard-Berufsschule (professional college) in
Paderborn and Münster are named in his honour.