Helmut Schmidt was one of the most important 20th-century German statesmen. As a politician, political author and pioneer, he has had a lasting influence on German and international politics.
Born in Hamburg in 1918, Helmut Schmidt was an SPD member of the Bundestag, a Senator (minister) in Hamburg, and a chairman of the SPD parliamentary group 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 October 1982 when his time in office came to an end, he was also a publisher of the Hamburg weekly DIE ZEIT and, for a while, managing director of the publishing house. Following his political career Helmut Schmidt continued to be deeply committed to European unity, international understanding and solving global problems.
Many people remember Helmut Schmidt particularly as a hands-on crisis manager during the Hamburg storm flood 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 Red Army Fraction terrorists. He fought to achieve a strategic balance of 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 of 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, 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 held that controversial debate constituted one of the core principles of democracy.
Helmut Schmidt received countless honours, prizes and awards from all over the world. Among the output of his remarkable productivity are around 50 books and hundreds of articles in DIE ZEIT and other newspapers, magazines and books.