German of the Week: Thomas de Mazière

Our German of the Week this episode is Thomas de Maizière who is currently Germany’s Minister of the Interior. Felix takes a look at the spying scandal surrounding him. 

This week de Mazière is back in the public debate after the latest in a list of NSA spying scandal revelations.

It’s not the first time he’s had responsibility in government. He’s also been Minister of Defense and, before that, Minister for Special Affairs. In this role he officially held oversight of the Bundesnachrichtendienst as well as other German spy agencies.

He’s held all of these positions under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The 61-year-old politician is known to be a close confidant of her and held ministerial positions since her administration began in 2005.

He joined the centre-right Christian Democrats in the early 70s. After studying law and history he gained a doctorate in law in 1986. His political career gained momentum when he was part of the West German negotiations on reunification with the East.

Here he started working with Angela Merkel, who was a rising political figure from former East Germany. It was in 2005, with the election of Merkel as chancellor, when he claimed his first ministerial position on the federal level. That position, “Special Affairs”, is what’s causing him so much trouble over the latest spying scandal.

How much did he know? And if he didn’t know, why not? Did he turn a blind eye to NSA meddling? Was there anything else he didn’t see?

Whatever the answers, he’s managed to see off more than one political crisis before.