Doreen Denstädt becomes eastern Germany’s first black minister

Former policewoman Doreen Denstädt became the first black minister in ex-communist eastern Germany on Wednesday, taking over the justice and migration brief in a hotbed of right-wing extremism.

Former policewoman Doreen Denstädt became the first black minister in ex-communist east Germany on Wednesday.
Former policewoman Doreen Denstädt became the first black minister in ex-communist east Germany on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Schutt

Denstädt, 45, belongs to the Greens and assumed the office in Thuringia state from Dirk Adams, who was fired after his management of immigration policy lost the support of the ecologist party.

Thuringia is governed by a fractious coalition of the far-left Linke party, the Social Democrats and the Greens who formed a bulwark against the far-right AfD party, which is polling at around 30 percent.

The state chapter of the AfD, an anti-migrant, anti-Muslim party, is considered particularly radical and has been placed under surveillance by the
domestic security watchdog, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

“If you like the constitution in Thuringia, you’re considered a leftist,” Denstädt, whose Tanzanian father studied in Germany, told the daily Tagesspiegel.

“I can be visible – after all I always stood out in a white-majority society, whether I wanted to or not.”

Denstädt, whose new office oversees the judicial system as well as migrant and refugee affairs, has said she intends to be a voice for victims of crime, racism and discrimination.

She noted that she as a German citizen is regularly asked to show her residency papers and does not ride public transportation at night for fear of racist attacks.

READ ALSO: Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, study finds

Denstädt, who only entered politics in 2021, faced a deluge of hate speech online when it was announced she would become a minister.

But she said she has also received widespread encouragement and support for her highly visible new position.

“An incredible number of people got in touch to say they’re proud of me and hopeful about what I can do,” she told Tagesspiegel.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Scholz calls for Ukraine backing as aid wobbles

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday called on Western allies to send a "message" to Russian President Vladimir Putin by renewing their support for Ukraine, as political divisions threatened to hold up aid.

Scholz calls for Ukraine backing as aid wobbles

Russia’s war in Ukraine was one that would likely “drag on for a long time”, Scholz said at a press conference.

“That is why it is important to formulate a long-term perspective that we are prepared to support Ukraine for as long as it is necessary and to the extent it is necessary,” said Scholz, speaking alongside his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.

Putin was “hoping the readiness in our countries to do what is necessary and to formulate the necessary support diminishes”, Scholz said. “It would be a very important message, if we told him: don’t count on it.”

Germany along with its partners in NATO and the European Union have provided Ukraine with billions in aid to sustain its war effort. But the stream of support has looked at risk of drying up as political divisions on both sides of the Atlantic threaten to block new supplies.

In the EU, Hungary’s prime minister has threatened to block fresh billions in aid, when the bloc’s 27 leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday. At the summit, the EU is eyeing agreements to give Ukraine 50 billion euros ($54 billion) more in financial aid, topping up a weapons fund for Kyiv by five billion euros and opening talks to join the bloc next year.

Meanwhile in the United States, Republican senators last week blocked $106 billion in emergency aid primarily for Ukraine and Israel in a dispute over immigration reforms.

Outgoing Prime Minister Rutte expressed confidence that the Netherlands would continue to back Ukraine, after the far-right topped the polls in national elections last month. “I am convinced that in the Netherlands we have a large majority… that is pro-Ukraine, which will ensure that we continue with support for Ukraine,” Rutte said.

READ ALSO: Scholz says Ukraine support ‘of existential importance’ – despite debt woes