Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder ( ( listen); 7 April 1944) is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor he served as Premier of Lower Saxony (1990–1998). Following the 2005 federal election, which his party lost, after three weeks of negotiations he stood down as Chancellor in favour of Angela Merkel of the rival Christian Democratic Union. He is currently the chairman of the board of Nord Stream AG, after having been hired as a global manager by investment bank Rothschild.
Schröder was born in Mossenberg, today an outlying centre of Blomberg, in what is now North Rhine-Westphalia. His father Fritz Schröder, a lance corporal in the Wehrmacht, was killed during World War II in action in Romania on 4 October 1944, a few months after Gerhard's birth. His mother Erika worked as an agricultural laborer in order to support herself and her two sons.
Schröder completed an apprenticeship in retail sales in a Lemgo hardware shop from 1958 to 1961, then worked in a retail shop in Lage and after that as an unskilled construction worker and a sales clerk in Göttingen while studying at night school to gain a high school diploma. He did not have to do military service because his father had died in the war. In 1966, Schröder secured entrance to a university, passing the Abitur exam at Westfalen-Kolleg, Bielefeld. From 1966 to 1971 he studied law at the University of Göttingen. From 1972 onwards, Schröder served as an assistant at the university. In 1976, he passed his second law examination and worked as a lawyer until 1990.