Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave the following statement in Berlin today (10 November) on the death of former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt:
“Germany has paused for reflection. The death of Helmut Schmidt fills me with great sorrow.
We Germans have lost a father figure. Helmut Schmidt had a profound impact on us and our country. Generations of people – including me – sought and valued his wisdom and authority up until the end of his blessedly long life.
Helmut Schmidt was not only Chancellor of the Germans – he was also a mentor to them.
He was a Chancellor of progress and a pioneer of globalisation. As a native of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, insular thinking was absolutely abhorrent to him. He always saw Germany as part of Europe and Europe as a player on the world stage.
His vision of European integration paved the way at an early stage for Europe’s single currency and economic and monetary union. His close relations with French President Giscard d’Estaing laid the foundations for productive exchange between the most important industrialised nations in the form of the G7.
Schmidt was a realist from Hamburg through and through. He knew that one does not improve the world with pious hopes or clever speeches, but rather through determined action. He steered our country through stormy times on many occasions, during the oil crisis in the 1970s, the German Autumn in 1977, and as early as 1962, during the floods in Hamburg.
We mourn the loss of a German democrat, a European pioneer and a global thinker.
Helmut Schmidt was a great statesman, down to his last cigarette.”