The Federal Office of Press and Information building on Welckerstraße was one of the few edifices to be constructed after 1954, prior to the construction freeze that was instituted in 1956. The Office’s mission is to keep Germans, as well as interested parties abroad, informed about government policies and activities.
Establishing a Federal Office of Press and Information was no easy matter in the wake of the demise of the Nazi regime, which had relied heavily on propaganda and manipulation of the press. As early as the summer of 1949, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer described his vision for a Federal Office of Press and Information in these words: “We neither need nor want a new Goebbels. But what we do want – and urgently need – is a robust agency with a seasoned journalist at its helm.”
In October of 1949, Adenauer promulgated establishment of an Office of Press and Information, for the purpose of keeping the executive and legislative branches of government informed about domestic and foreign press coverage, and in order to keep the public informed about government policy. The Federal Office of Press and Information also organised Adenauer’s “chats over tea” with hand-picked journalists. These events were held from the spring of 1950 until Adenauer left office in 1963.
The agency was initially headquartered in an Jugendstil townhouse on Drachenfelsstraße near the Bundeshaus; a few months later it moved into offices on the third floor of the Ermekeil barracks.
According to personal recollections, the first staff members were a “motley crew” of “former officials and staffers from the Foreign Office, members of the news corps of the disbanded Wehrmacht, journalists who had been forced out of their jobs by the Nazi regime, and gung-ho newbies – all of whom had landed in Bonn by chance.” The Federal Office of Press and Information’s most familiar face was that of Felix von Eckardt, who served as the government’s press spokesman from 1952 to 1955 and from 1956 to 1962.
A five-storey edifice with a large underground parking garage was completed in 1956 just west of the Bundeshaus. It was designed by Dirk Denninger of Bonn, who, with his father Wilhelm, had also designed a conference and convention centre in Bad Godesberg. The government-district building is to this day the Bonn headquarters of the Federal Office of Press and Information.