Life and work

Born in Hamburg in 1918, Helmut Schmidt was an SPD member of the Bundestag, a Senator (minister) in Hamburg, and a party leader and government minister in Bonn between 1953 and 1987. In May 1974, the Bundestag elected him the fifth Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. After his time in office came to an end in October 1982, he became a publisher of the Hamburg weekly newspaper Die Zeit and, for a time, managing director of its publishing house. Following his political career, Helmut Schmidt remained deeply committed to European unity, international understanding and solving global problems.

Many people remember Helmut Schmidt as being  a particularly hands-on crisis manager during the Hamburg floods of 1962 and again when facing the challenges of global economic crises in the early 1970s. During his time in office as Chancellor, he also maintained a decisive and consistent stance towards Rote Armee Fraktion terrorists. He fought to achieve a strategic balance in medium-range nuclear weapons in Central Europe – a topic that was highly controversial both publicly and within his own party.

Helmut Schmidt’s remarkable abilities in the fields of defence, foreign affairs and economic and finance policy were coupled with a fine appreciation for art, music, literature and philosophy. He shared these interests with his wife, Loki Schmidt (née Glaser), a teacher and naturalist who was also born in Hamburg and to whom he was married for 68 years. Helmut Schmidt was held in the highest regard both at home and abroad: as an incisive thinker, urbane chronicler and homo politicus who believed that controversial debate is one of the core principles of democracy. Helmut Schmidt received countless honours, prizes and awards from all over the world. His remarkable productivity saw him publish around 50 books and hundreds of articles in Die Zeit and other newspapers, magazines and books.


© dpa

Helmut Schmidt was an outstanding figure of his time. His life and work were documented in countless photographs. You can find a selection here.