The hall of the Federal Press Conference was nicknamed "Aquarium" (fish tank) because of its architecture, 2018.
The wooden wall with the square pattern behind the podium is as much a hallmark of the hall as the large windows, 2018.
Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl (right) and GDR Prime Minister Hans Modrow issued a press statement on 13 February 1990 on the negotiations on German Unity.

Federal Press Conference

Press meeting venue
since 1967

The press room of the Federal Press Conference is a venue where journalists hold press conferences that they themselves convene.

On 15 September 1949, Konrad Adenauer was elected West Germany’s first Chancellor by a majority of just one vote in the parliamentary chamber “Deutscher Bundestag” at the Bundeshaus. On this occasion, a group of journalists posted a manifesto calling for a new type of press association to be established – one that would be convened not by politicians, but rather by parliamentary correspondents – who would invite selected politicians to attend. There was a precedent for this: such an organisation had previously existed in Weimar Germany, for the Hannover state assembly in 1947, and for Frankfurt’s economic council. The Federal Press Conference came into existence on 11 October 1949.

The first politicians that the parliamentary correspondents invited to attend were Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard. These press conferences were held in various Bundeshaus rooms, due to the fact that the secretarial pool was still occupying one of the press offices. From 1967 onwards, the Federal Press Conference began inviting politicians and other prominent individuals on the political scene to a dedicated room at the Tulpenfeld office complex.

A large group of journalists in the press room of the Federal Press Conference in Bonn, sitting on several rows of chairs, equipped with numerous cameras.
In front of photographers, camera teams and journalists, SPD party chairman Oskar Lafontaine announced Gerhard Schröder's candidacy for chancellor on 2 March 1998.

The room, which in the government quarter was referred to as the "Aquarium" (fish tank), was on the first floor of a six-floor building. It jutted out into the plaza in front of the building, rested on stilts, and had floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides.

This architecture was meant to symbolise the non-partisanship and transparency that it was hoped that the Federal Press Conference would inject into German politics.

Portrait photography of Charima Reinhardt against a blue background.
Charima Reinhardt was deputy government spokeswoman in the cabinet of Gerhard Schröder. At the last federal press conference in Bonn before the government's move to Berlin on 4 August 4 1999, she spoke about the relationship between government and journalists.

The “Aquarium” was also the venue for so-called government press conferences, which as a rule were held several times weekly and were also subject to the rules governing the Federal Press Conference. These events were moderated by a journalist and were broadcast to all press and ministerial offices in Bonn. According to the Federal Press Conference rules, the talks were assigned a code number: code 1: The information can be used by anyone; code 2: The information can be used without mentioning the source and without naming the informant; code 3: The information is confidential. This system also became established for talks between journalists and politicians that took place outside the Federal Press Conference.

The Federal Press Conference continued its work in Berlin as from the summer of 1999. In Bonn it is still represented by a branch office.

Did you know...

... that in the period immediately following the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, foreign correspondents were also members of the Federal Press Conference? In January of 1951, these foreign correspondents re-established an organisation known as Verein der ausländischen Presse (VAP), or Foreign Press Association, which was founded in 1906? To this day, VAP correspondents are permitted to attend and ask questions at Press Corps Association press conferences.