Ex-Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit about his city: From poor to sexy

08. November 2016 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Actually, he wanted to be a judge. Willy Brandt, former German chancellor of the left party SPD may have to be blamed for the fact that he moved into politics after all. He remains a leading figure for Klaus Wowereit who also wanted to move something in the political arena. Against all odds.

Youngest city councilor of Berlin and 13 years’ governing mayor

His decision seemed to be right. Today, he looks back on a brilliant brilliant political career: at the age of 30, he became the youngest city councilor in Berlin and, eleven years later, he moved on to take the position of deputy chairman of the city’s main committee. In 1999, he was elected Chairman of the SPD, and finally in 2001, he was appointed as Governing Mayor of Berlin. He remained in this „job of his life“ until the year 2014.

I am gay – and that’s perfectly all right!

For many, Klaus Wowereit belongs to Berlin just like the German Currywurst. With his cosmopolitan, tolerant and communicative nature, he has turned the city into a world metropolis and, at the same time, initiated a change in mentality to a self-confident dynamic citizenry.

His probably most famous saying “I am gay – and that’s perfectly all right!” has deeply anchored in German expression. He was one of the first politicians in Germany who came out in public.

Klaus Wowereit has ruled his hometown for more than 13 years. He, who grew up in Berlin-Tempelhof district, spoke of Berlin as a center for creativity before anyone else did. He said: „Berlin has and has never had a lot of money – but it is sexy“!

„Wowi“ sets a new mindset

Klaus Wowereit’s nickname quickly became „Wowi“, which also reflects the sympathy that many „Berliner“ had for him.

He turned Berlin’s image of a once-divided, quite unfriendly city upside down. He used descriptions like wild and beautiful and sexy and called its inhabitants gripping, hard-working, cosmopolitan, rich in humor with a unique culture. In the beginning, he mostly just got a weary smile in return.

Nevertherless, he followed his dream and made it happen. The motto in his first government declaration “With courage for Berlin” remained the recurring theme of his whole time as major. His vision has proved true – which is largely due to his great dedication and commitment.

Since January 2015, he has been an honorary member of the Bureau of the Association of Berlin Merchants and Industrialists.

Anyone who meets him today in his district Berlin-Charlottenburg will experience a relaxed ex-mayor who has lost nothing of his self-confidence and charm. When an editor of the German newspaper „Tagesspiegel“ met him once for a city walk, he could hardly believe how many people greeted “Wowi” on the streets. For some, Klaus Wowereit surely remains the „mayor of the hearts“.

Think Big. Create Future: 15th Alpensymposium with speaker Klaus Wowereit

On stage, the speaker Klaus Wowereit hasn’t lost any of his talent. He is just good at it. And very experienced for sure.

At the Alpensymposium 2017 in Interlaken, Switzerland, he will talk about Berlin, the city he is still so passionate about. He is going to lift the secret how Berlin became sexy – even without the big bucks. He will talk about obstacles in the way and how to solve them and how it can actually work to turn the image of a city around.

The Alpensymposium celebrates its 15th anniversary and will take place on 10th and 11th January 2017 in Interlaken, Switzerland.

In addition to Klaus Wowereit, Top-Speakers such as the former president of the German football club Bayern Munich Uli Hoeness, Joey Kelly, Hannes Schmid or Arthur H. Honegger talk about the thrilling topic “Think big. Create future. Innovative – Inspired – Intense.”

Klaus Wowereit

Former Mayor of Berlin (2001 - 2014)