Berlin • Washington • Beijing

Walter Kolbow

Walter Kolbow (* 27 April 1944 in Spittal an der Drau) is a retired German politician (SPD). He was Parliamentary State Secretary (1998-2005) in the Federal Ministry of Defense, as well as Deputy Chairman of SPD Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag (2005-2009).

Live and Profession

After primary school in Ingolstadt and Ochsenfurt (Bavaria), his Abitur at Röntgen-Gymnasium Würzburg in 1964 Kolbow served the compulsory military duty until 1966 at the German Air Force. Today he is Captain of the reserve. Afterwards, Kolbow studied law at the University of Würzburg and the „Deutsche Hochschule für Verwaltungswissenschaften“ in Speyer. In 1970 he obtained the „Erstes Juristisches Staatsexamen“ and in 1974 the „Zweites Juristisches Staatsexamen“. The year after, Kolbow started working for the local administration of Frankfurt. Between 1978 and 1980 he did scientific research for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
Today Kolbow is counsel of the Berlin Consulting Group supporting public and private institutions in the field of health in Europe. Furthermore, Walter Kolbow is married and has two children. His son, Alexander Kolbow (SPD), is city councillor of Würzburg.


Kolbow joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1967. Until 2008 he was chairman of the regional section of Unterfranken (Bavaria). Today he is its Honorary Chairman.
Besides, Kolbow is Chairman of the “Commission on Security and Bundeswehr Issues” which gives advice to SPD´s federal steering committee.


Between 1972 until 1976 Kolbow was member of the city council of Ochsenfurt, as well as between 1978 until 1981 of Würzburg. Since 1980 he was Member of the German Bundestag. Between 1994 until 1998 Kolbow was responsible for defense matters of the SPD Parliamentary Group. As a result of the Federal elections of 1998 he joined the Federal Government and was appointed as Parliamentarian State Secretary at the Ministry of Defense until 2005. Within this period he was Germany´s “Humanitarian Representative to Macedonia” coordinating humanitarian aid in Macedonia. Moreover, Kolbow is well respected for his commitment for injured German soldiers because of radar radiation and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In addition to that, he was Vice Chairman of the SPD Paralemtary Group, responsible for foreign policy, defense matters and human rights since 2005. After 29 years of parliamentary work Kolbow retired from the German Bundestag in 2009.


2009Constitutional Medal in silver
2009Honorary Ring of the City of Würzburg
2012Grand Merit Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany