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Annemarie Mevissen (b. 24 October 1914 in Bremen; d. 13 July 2006 in Bremen)

“The Only Man in the Senate”

First Female Deputy Minister President of a German State

In her work as Senator of Youth and Social Affairs, Annemarie Mevissen set standards which gained her recognition far beyond Bremen’s boundaries. Her first challenge was to provide a new outlook for young people uprooted by the war and the turmoil of the post-war era. Later she introduced innovative ideas in the area of pre-school education as well as for seniors and the handicapped.

Influenced by her upbringing in a Social Democratic home, Annemarie Mevissen came into contact with politics at an early age. She received her higher school certificate in 1934, but because her father was an outspoken dissident she was not permitted to attend university and learned the bookseller’s trade. In 1947 she became the youngest member of the Bremen parliament, where she passionately advocated a democratic school reform. She had meanwhile married and had two children and faced the task of reconciling her profession with family life.

In 1952 she took office as “Senator of Youth Welfare”; in 1958/59 sports and general welfare were added to her range of responsibilities. For twenty-three years she was the only female member of the Bremen senate. A widely acknowledged politician, in 1967 she was elected mayor – i.e. deputy to the president of the senate – and thus became the first female deputy minister president of a German Federal Republican state.

In January 1968, Mayor Mevissen caused a sensation with her plucky appearance before a large crowd of demonstrating school pupils and university students. She was not fond of the epithet she earned as a result: “the only man in the senate” – nor were her male colleagues.

After her withdrawal from politics in 1975, painting, drawing and writing became important focuses of her life. In October 2005, the senate of Bremen awarded the ninety-one-year-old Annemarie Mevissen honorary citizenship.

Dr. Renate Meyer-Braun