In remembrance of Dr. Katharina Focke

Dr. Katharina Focke
08.10.1922 – 10.07.2016

The Institute for European Politics (IEP) commemorates Dr. Katharina Focke, the first female managing director of the Bildungswerk Europäische Politik in Cologne (today called IEP), and a committed European citizen. As federal minister for family affairs and member of the European Parliament she was especially committed to the improvement of women’s rights and engaged in development cooperation as well as European integration.

On October 1, 1961, Dr. Katharina Focke was elected as managing director by the executive board of the Bildungswerk Europäische Politik. Key Aspects of the Bildungswerk’s political work during that time were the relations between Eastern and Western Europe, the nature and functioning of the European Community, its crises as well as the question why the vision of “Europe” hardly resonated with the youth.

During her mandate as federal minister for family affairs (1972-1976) she reformed the right to the use of names for families and pushed reforms on the German divorce-law.

In the first direct elections of the European Parliament in June 1979, she was elected as an MEP. She held her mandate until 1989. During this time, she worked as a committee member on topics such as Development and Cooperation as well as Energy, Research and Technology.

Dr. Katharina Focke was the daughter of Franziska Schulz (doctor) and Ernst Friedlaender (publicist), the latter being a founding member of the Europäische Bewegung as well as the former chairman of the Europa-Union Germany. Dr. Katharina Focke supported her father in his work and successfully graduated from university with her dissertation on European integration in 1954.

Due to her impressive engagement for European integration, social equality and women’s rights Dr. Katharina Focke will always be remembered. We thank her for her multifaceted work in politics and society from which we still profit today.