Ströbele Biography

Hans-Christian Ströbele was a German politician and attorney who lived from 7 June 1939 to 29 August 2022. His name is pronounced [hans kstian tbl]. He belonged to Germany’s Alliance 90/The Greens, a green political party.

Education and early career 

Ströbele, the son of a chemist, was born in Halle (Saale). At 1959, he earned his Abitur in Marl, Westphalia. Ströbele began his military career as a reserve gunner in the early Bundeswehr at the Air Force in Aurich. [2] [3] At the Free University of Berlin and Heidelberg University, Ströbele studied political science and law. He worked as a law clerk for Horst Mahler in 1967. He began practicing law in Berlin in 1969. He participated in the student movement of the late 1960s. He joined the SPD in 1970 and was a member until 1974. He also spent eleven years as a member of the “Socialist Lawyers’ Collective,” and he gained national notoriety by representing political activists and Red Army Faction militants in court. He defended Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin, Andreas Baader, and Dieter Kunzelmann, members of the Kommunard party, as well as Mahler, a coworker who had enlisted in the RAF.

Ströbele was part in the establishment of the left-leaning daily newspaper taz beginning in 1977.

Ströbele was found guilty in 1983 by the Berlin District Court of aiding terrorist organizations by passing secret information between prisoners. The Court found that Ströbele had made a significant contribution to keeping the organizations active while they were imprisoned.

Beginnings of the Green Party 

The “Alternative List for Democracy and Environmental Protection,” which was the forerunner of the Berlin Greens, was co-founded by Ströbele. He served in the Bundestag from March 31, 1985, to March 31, 1987. (the end of the term). He assisted in establishing the red-green alliance of 1989–1990 on the state level in Berlin.

In June 1990, Ströbele was appointed the party’s spokesperson; however, after opposing the Persian Gulf War, he resigned in February 1991. This included objecting to the party’s official tour to Israel during which Patriot missiles were to be delivered. He kept serving as a Green assemblyman in Berlin’s Tiergarten neighborhood as of 1992.

Member of Parliament, 1998–2017 

Ströbele was elected to the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament) in 1998 as a result of his placement on the Green Party’s electoral list, which was the junior partner in a government led by Gerhard Schröder. Since that time, he has served as a member of the PKGr, the parliamentary oversight body for Germany’s intelligence services. [12] Ströbele also held the position of one of the deputy chairs of the Bundestag’s Green Party parliamentary group from 2002 to 2005. Since 2005, he has also been a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs.

Early on in the Schröder administration, Ströbele began to disagree with the foreign policy positions of the Green Party’s Joschka Fischer, particularly her support for the deployment of troops to Operation Enduring Freedom and the Kosovo War (1999). (2001).

Ströbele organized a national party conference in 1999 to discuss the party’s position on Kosovo and gathered 500 signatures from party members to call for an end to NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia. He pushed the Greens to quit the coalition government in 2001. [18]

Ströbele was not allocated a spot on the Green Party list during the pre-elections for the 2002 German federal election, which at the time was widely believed to be the only way a Green candidate could win a seat in parliament under Germany’s proportional representation electoral system. In that case, he made the decision to run for a direct mandate in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Prenzlauer Berg East seat while adopting stances that markedly diverged from the Green Party’s official election campaign. As the only Green to hold a direct seat in parliament from 2002 to 2017, he unexpectedly won the direct mandate with a plurality vote of 31.6%. He obtained a second direct mandate in the 2005 federal elections, this time with a 43.2% vote majority. For the federal elections in 2009, various parties attempted to defeat Ströbele due to his local notoriety by running inventive campaigns (particularly Vera Lengsfeld’s “We have more to offer”), but Ströbele once again won the direct mandate, this time with 46.8% of the vote and again with 39.9% in 2013.

Ströbele joined Gerhard Schick, Anton Hofreiter, and Winfried Hermann in their successful 2011 constitutional complaint against the Merkel government’s failure to disclose information regarding the Deutsche Bahn and financial market oversight. The complaint was filed in 2011. The Federal Constitutional Court found that the government had in fact disregarded its obligation to respond to parliamentary inquiries and to adequately support its justifications in its verdict issued in 2017.

Ströbele declared in December 2016 that he would leave active politics by the end of the current parliamentary term rather than run in the 2017 federal elections. Canan Bayram, a candidate for Alliance 90/The Greens, defeated Ströbele in his previous electoral constituency in the 2017 election.

Other activities 

  • taz Panter Stiftung, Member of the Board of Trustees (−2022) 
  • German Development Service (DED), Member of the Supervisory Board (1998–2011) 

Political positions 

Military engagement 

Ströbele had frequently voted against the German Bundeswehr’s participation in the ISAF security mission in Afghanistan, which was overseen by NATO. He did not participate in the 2010 vote on Germany’s membership in the UNIFIL, although he has since voted against its extension.

However, Ströbele had frequently voted in favor of German involvement in United Nations peacekeeping missions as well as in European Union peacekeeping missions on the African continent that were ordered by the UN, such as in Darfur/Sudan (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015), South Sudan (2011, 2012, and 2013), and the Central African Republic (2014). However, he opposed EUTM Somalia, Operation Atalanta in Somalia, and EUTM Mali in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. (2014, 2015 and 2016). He stayed away from the vote in 2014 when it came time to approve a German mandate for the EUFOR RCA peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

Intelligence services 

In 2006, Ströbele was one of the authors of a classified report prepared by a committee of the German Parliament that held closed-door hearings on the role of German intelligence during the Iraq War. The German report confirmed many details in a 2005 classified report by the United States Joint Forces Command which spoke of the German intelligence liaison officer working in coordination with American intelligence in Qatar. However, Ströbele contended that the parliamentary report was largely based on incomplete and partially censored information provided by the German intelligence agency BND and wrote a dissenting comment on the report which he posted on his Web site. 

On 31 October 2013, Ströbele – then the longest serving member of the parliamentary committee that oversees German intelligence  – and journalist Georg Mascolo met with Edward Snowden in Moscow to discuss the possibility of the NSA whistleblower testifying before the German parliamentary committee investigating foreign spying in Germany and obtaining access to cell phone calls on German government officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

Visit of Pope Benedict XVI 

Strobele, who had opposed the pope’s appearance due to his positions on women in the church, gay rights, and victims of sexual abuse by priests, stood up and left as the speech began when Pope Benedict XVI addressed members of the German Parliament during his first official visit to Berlin in 2011. This occurred in 2011. Strobele had opposed the pope’s appearance due to these positions. Benedict then singled out his party for praise, saying that the “development of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s” was a “demand for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside.” Benedict’s remarks were directed specifically at his party.

Eurozone crisis 

Strobele was the only member of the Green Party’s parliamentary group to vote against Germany’s support for the implementation of a series of financial support measures such as the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in June 2012, and he did so by citing constitutional objections. This was done while the Eurozone was in the midst of a crisis.

Arms exports 

In the wake of a contentious agreement reached in 2011 to ship German tanks to Saudi Arabia, Strobele promised to file a complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court in the event that the federal government continued to refuse to divulge any information. It was in 2014 when he, along with fellow Green Party parliamentarians Katja Keul and Claudia Roth, filed a complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court, arguing that it was unconstitutional for the government to keep the Bundestag in the dark about planned arms deals because it prevented the parliament from doing its job of keeping the government in check. He argued that it was unconstitutional for the government to keep the Bundestag in the dark about planned arms deals because it prevented the parliament from doing its job of keeping the government The court decided that the government did not have to disclose information about planned defense exports; however, it did have an obligation to provide the Bundestag with details, on request, once specific arms deals had been approved. This obligation only arose once specific arms deals had been authorized.

Cause of Death

Ströbele, born in Halle an der Saale but raised in Marl in North Rhine-Westphalia, was a symbol of the left wing of the Greens. The son of a chemist never shied away from disputes with his own party friends – for example with the former Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Joschka Fischer on foreign policy issues. His recipe for success included daily advertising tours by bike and the slogan “choosing Ströbele means torturing fishermen”.

Ströbele was argumentative and critical and never held back when, in his opinion, discussions about important topics were neglected. In recent years in the Bundestag, the politician had devoted himself intensively to the subject of secret services and made headlines with a visit to US whistleblower Edward Snowden in Moscow.

When a reporter from Deutschlandfunk visited him at the end of May, Ströbele also spoke about his illness. “I have a nervous condition that causes my arm and leg muscles and also my neck muscles to atrophy, meaning they die off,” he said. He hardly ever leaves his apartment.

On Wednesday, his lawyer Johannes Eisenberg wrote in a statement: “He decided for himself that he no longer wanted to continue the long ordeal that his illness had imposed on him and that he reduced life-sustaining measures. He was fully conscious to the last. Not the spirit, the body became his torment and left him on August 29, 2022.”

Reactions to Ströbele’s death

Chancellor Olaf Scholz acknowledged Ströbele. “His drive was to do politics and change society,” Scholz wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “With Christian Ströbele, Germany has lost a combative politician who has shaped the political debate for decades. My thoughts are with his family.”

The Greens mourn the death of their co-founder Ströbele. With Ströbele, the party is losing “an icon of the struggle for democracy and peace,” wrote co-party leader Omid Nouripour on Wednesday on Twitter. “I’m losing a wonderful ex-office neighbor from whom I learned so much about critical, substantive and respectful discourse. Hans-Christian, rest in peace.”

Co-leader Ricarda Lang wrote: “I was deeply impressed by his integrity and his unflinching fight against injustice. With him goes a great politician, lawyer and person who shaped our party, but also our entire country.”

The political director of the Greens, Emily Büning, explained: “We mourn our friend, companion, guide, (pre-) fighter – for the wonderful person Hans-Christian Ströbele. We will give you a proper goodbye, dear Ströbi, now our thoughts are with your family. You will be missed.”

Schily praised Ströbele as a “legend”. He told the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”: “Hans-Christian was a legend, the first directly elected member of the Green Party and an excellent lawyer who worked intensively on the cases and files. He didn’t really agree with my policies as Federal Minister of the Interior, but we always respected each other.”

According to Schily, Ströbele stood for an independent profile politically before there were anything like political brands, “with his scarf, his bicycle, his approach to people and his adherence to strict anti-militarism”. With Ströbele, “not only something of the green original substance is lost, but an outstanding personality of the republic.”