Philipp Missfelder, Rising Politician in Germany, Dies at 35
BERLIN — Philipp Missfelder, who despite his youth rose swiftly in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party to become its foreign affairs spokesman, died on July 12 near Coesfeld in North Rhine-Westphalia. He was 35.
He suffered a lung embolism, and his wife, a doctor, was unable to revive him, according to the party and the German news media.
Mr. Missfelder was known for his strong commitment to the trans-Atlantic partnership and to Israel. He frequently spoke of the need to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and was well connected in Eastern Europe and Russia.
He was widely seen as a future cabinet member, even as he established himself outside conventional political channels.
Mr. Missfelder had “an astounding gift for building bridges” between parties, countries and ideas, the president of Parliament, Norbert Lammert, said on Friday. “Hardly anybody in the history of the German Parliament built up such a network of contacts in such young years without holding an office in the executive branch.”
Mr. Missfelder’s rise in conservative politics was unlikely, given his working-class origins in the Ruhr, the industrial heartland of the center-left Social Democrats.
Born on Aug. 25, 1979, in Gelsenkirchen, the son of a steelworker, he became involved in conservative politics in high school. By the age of 22 he was in charge of the Junge Union (Young Union), the branch of the Christian Democrats for 14-to-35-year-olds. He built it into one of the strongest youth movements in Europe.
At 25, Mr. Missfelder was elected to the Bundestag, the lower house of Parliament. He joined his party’s top leadership at 28 and became foreign policy spokesman at 30.
In 2014, Mr. Missfelder served six months as trans-Atlantic coordinator for the German government, but he quit under criticism from conservatives after attending a 70th-birthday party for former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The party, hosted by Russia’s natural gas giant Gazprom, was also attended by Mr. Schröder’s longtime friend President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, weeks after his troops had annexed Crimea.
Mr. Missfelder attributed his attraction to conservative politics to his admiration for the chancellor of his youth, Helmut Kohl, who dominatedGermany for 16 years until losing to Mr. Schröder in 1998. Mr. Kohl was then unseated as the Christian Democratic leader by Ms. Merkel.
But Mr. Missfelder continued to visit and show support for the ousted leader.
His broad connections both inside and outside his party led Robin Alexander, a respected Berlin columnist, to note in the newspaper Die Welt that the Bundestag had lost not only one of its youngest but also one of its most experienced deputies.
Mr. Missfelder’s admiration for Israel and his repeated calls to fight anti-Semitism drew a tribute from the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee.
“Philipp Missfelder was a dear friend of the U.S., of Israel and of the Jewish people,” said Deidre Berger, director of the A.J.C. Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations.
Survivors include Mr. Missfelder’s wife, Ann-Christin, and their two daughters.