Günter Krenzler (1933–2012): A Life for Europe

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
Christoph Herrmann, Bruno Simma and Rudolf Streinz (eds.)Trade Policy between Law, Diplomacy and ScholarshipEuropean Yearbook of International Economic Law10.1007/978-3-319-15690-3_3

Horst Günter Krenzler (1933–2012): A Life for Europe

Jürgen Elvert1, 2  

Jean-Monnet-Lehrstuhl für Europäische Geschichte, Historisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, Gronewaldstraße 2, 50931 Köln, Germany

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS), Aarhus University, Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B, Building 1632, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark



Jürgen Elvert

This brief biographical sketch of Horst Günter Krenzler’s life is to a large extent relying on an interview he gave me on 20 August 2010 in his Munich apartment. This interview was part of my research related to a project on the history of the European Commission (1973–1986). Hence, this paper will largely focus on Krenzler’s professional career within the European institutions and for the European Commission. The text of the interview is currently being prepared for disclosure by the Historical Archives of the European Union; it is not yet publicly available. The quotations refer to the author’s copy of the interview.

Horst Günter Krenzler was born on 26 March 1933 in Wuppertal, an industrial city of the Bergisches Land east of Cologne and south of the Ruhr district. As a 10-year-old boy, he there experienced one of the first allied air raids of the Rhineland. With a distance of 67 years, Krenzler clearly remembered running through burning streets—tar being set on fire by firebombs, destroyed houses to the left and to the right, his parents’ house included. Having lost nearly everything in the air raid, the Krenzler family moved to Hinterzarten to escape the war. However, even in the idyllic Black Forest the war was going on, as Freiburg increasingly was among the targets of air raids and Krenzler again witnessed the destructive power of bombs, as well as of anti-aircraft guns destroying allied bombers in the air, which then crashed nearby.

It thus can hardly surprise that Horst Günter Krenzler considered the peace-building effects as the central raison d’être of European integration, followed by the necessity of economic reconciliation as prerequisite for social and societal stability as well as regaining political influence for Europe on the global stage. Growing up in the French zone of occupation, Krenzler took French as the first foreign language at school and thus gained a linguistic competence which later should become important for his professional career in the European Commission. However, he was not a born civil servant in European institutions, although international affairs interested him at an early stage. Having studied law in Freiburg, Munich and Bonn he spent his legal clerkship to a large extent abroad and visited summer courses at the London School of Economics and received practical training at the Paris Chamber of Commerce. At the same time he did a doctor’s degree in International Law at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg under supervision of Günther Jaenicke and Hermann Mosler and subsequently received his practising certificate at a commercial law firm in Mannheim.

As career opportunities for newcomers on the vocational field for commercial lawyers were not very promising in the mid-1960s, Krenzler decided to do the concours at the European Atomic Energy Community, to be put on the waiting list for jobs with the European institutions. As a commercial lawyer, Krenzler was interested in working for Commissioner Hans von der Groeben, who in the 1960s was working hard to establish new European competition law. However, he learned from Manfred Caspari, then deputy head of the von der Groeben Cabinet, that competition law was already considered a German domain in the commission. Caspari recommended to opt for international law instead, as in 1965 the negotiations of Austrian association to the EEC were conducted and many delicate legal problems had to be solved in this context.

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