Schmidt, Helmuth Heinrich Waldemar.

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Schmidt, Helmuth Heinrich Waldemar, born 23-12-1918 in Hamburg. Both his father and brother were teachers. Education was therefore of paramount importance within the family. Schmidt enjoyed a good education, during which he mastered the English language and developed his musical qualities. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, his parents told him that his father was the illegitimate son of a Jewish banker. Although he had a Jewish background, he was just considered German according to race laws. This illegality bothered his father so much that Schmidt decided to make this fact known only after his father’s death in 1981.

Service time Schmidt entered the army in 1937, after which he went through various ranks in eight years. In 1941 he participated in the invasion of Russia, where he served as an air force officer in both Leningrad and Moscow and earned an Iron Cross. He also became an officer in the Wehrmacht and participated in the Ardennes offensive as part of an anti-aircraft unit. He was a famous member who  attended the People’s Court as a military spectator at some of the show trials for officers involved in the 20 July plot, in which an unsuccessful attempt was made to assassinate Hitler at Rastenburg, and was disgusted by Roland Freisler’s

conduct. Freisler had his court in the  Königsberg Wilhelmsgymnasium at Bellevuestrasse 15 in Potsdamer Platz. Toward the end of the war, From December 1944 onwards, he served as an Oberleutnant in the Flakartillery on the Western Front during the Battle of the Bulge and the Ardennes Offensive. He was captured by the British in April 1945 on Lüneburg Heath, and was a prisoner of war until August 1945 of that year in Belgium. Schmidt would later declare that he only heard of the Auschwitz and Dachau extermination camps after the war and that he had always been an opponent of Hitler and his politics. Schmidt often referred to the fact that it was his time as a PoW that politicised him and persuaded him to become a Social Democrat in 1946. Thereafter he had a rapid career, studying political science and economics before entering the Bundestag in 1953.

Political careerIn 1946, Schmidt became a member of the Sozialdemokratisch Partei Deutschlands (SPD). He worked his way up from a civil servant in the municipality of Hamburg to a member of the Bundestag. From 1969 to 1974 he acquired important positions in the government of Willy Brandt. He successively became Minister of Defense, Minister of Economy and Minister of Finance. After Willy Brandt‘s resignation, Helmut Schmidt was elected Federal Chancellor of West Germany on 16 May 1974. He also won the elections in 1976 and 1980.

Schmidt gained a lot of popularity during this period. His rapprochement with countries within the Soviet Union and his pragmatic and realistic politics were praised. In addition, he made West Germany a relatively stable state and strengthened the relationship between France and the FRG. However, his Federal Chancellery came to an end in the 1980s, when dissatisfaction with his politics grew. Helmut Schmidt here with Ronald Reagan,stepped down as Federal Chancellor on 01-10-1982 and was succeeded by Helmut Kohl.

Schmidt remained active in politics as a member of the Bundestag until his retirement in 1987. After his active political career, he wrote several books about German politics and international power relations. He also appeared every now and then in the media as an experience expert. Schmidt had married Hannelore “Loki” Glaser in 1942, a union that both described as extremely happy and which lasted for 68 years until the death of Loki, as she was popularly known, in 2010. Both heavy smokers, they were known for lighting up in public and made headlines in 2008 for doing so in a theater that had banned smoking. Their son, Helmut Walter, born in June 1944, died nine months later. He surprised the public by remarrying just two years later.

Death and burial ground of Schmidt, Helmuth Heinrich Waldemar.

 

On 02-09-2015, Schmidt underwent surgery for a vascular occlusion in his right leg. On 17 September, Schmidt was discharged from hospital. After initial improvement, his condition worsened again on 8 November, with his doctor saying he “feared for the worst”. Schmidt died in his Hamburg home on the afternoon of 10-11-2015, aged 96. At the time of his death, he was the longest-lived German Chancellor. Helmuth Schmidt is buried at the Ohlsdorfer Friedhof, Ohlsdorf, Hamburg-Nord, Hamburg, Germany.

 

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