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Ludwig Erhard, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, with his programmatic work "Prosperity for All" (1957)
© Doris Adrian/Bundesregierung

1949 – 1963

Ludwig Erhard – father of the social market economy

Ludwig Erhard, the man with the cigar, is the “father of the German economic miracle”. He sat in the German Bundestag for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) for a total of 28 years, from 1949 to 1977.

As Federal Minister for Economic Affairs in the cabinet of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, he shaped the economic boom of Germany over three and a half legislative periods (1949–1963). However, this entailed tough disputes with Konrad Adenauer, who criticized Erhard publicly, time and again. A bitter point of difference was the introduction of a pay-as-you-go, index-linked state pension scheme, which Adenauer enforced in 1957 despite warnings from his Minister for Economics and Minister of Finance, Fritz Schäffer of the Christian Social Union (CSU). Despite this, Erhard remained Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and was even appointed by Adenauer as Vice Chancellor in 1957. However, Erhard rejected Adenauer’s proposal of becoming the successor of Theodor Heuss as Federal President in 1959.

Some of Erhard’s well-known publications during his time as Federal Minister for Economic Affairs included Germany’s Return to the Global Market (1953), the programmatic work Prosperity for All (1957), and the book German Economic Policy (1962).