News Daily Spot: Death of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt

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Death of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt, the Chancellor who led West Germany in a period of economic turbulence and tensions of the Cold War, resisted an internal wave of terrorism and became a respected statesman, died Tuesday. He was 96.


The German weekly Die Zeit, which was co-editor Schmidt, confirmed in a statement that died at his home in Hamburg.

Schmidt, a Social Democrat center left, ruled West Germany from 1974 to 1982. He was elected chancellor by lawmakers in May 1974 following the resignation of his colleague Willy Brandt, triggered when a senior staff member Brandt was unmasked as a spy for Germany East.

The new chancellor brought the confidence placed a sometimes aggressive and his experience as minister of defense, finance and economics, taking office amid an economic downturn that followed the 1973 oil crisis.

Schmidt's foreign ministry coincided with a tense period of the Cold War, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

The following year he supported the boycott organized by the United States against the Moscow Olympics because of the invasion, but later said "achieved nothing". Schmidt later said he had disputes with the United States under President Jimmy Carter on defense and finance and found "that the Germans could not afford an extra conflict with the United States," the protector of West Germany against the Soviets.

Amid efforts to combat a global recession, Schmidt was one of the main sponsors of the first summit of industrialized countries in Rambouillet, France, in 1975, which later became the annual meeting of the Group of Seven.

He and then-French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing had central roles in the organization of the European Monetary System, aimed at protecting the wild fluctuations of European currencies, which paved the way for the creation of the euro.

Born December 23, 1918 and son of two teachers, his father was half Jewish. Schmidt joined the Hitler Youth when his team rowing was included in the Nazi organization, but was suspended when he was 17 years old, "probably because of my constant complaints," he once said.

Conscripted as a soldier during World War II, and captured by British forces in April 1945. He was released in August of that year.

He entered parliament in West Germany in 1953 and soon gained a reputation for his keen talent for debate.

As chancellor, that confidence served him well to meet domestic terrorism of the Red Army Faction, an extremist outbreak of the student movements of the sixties.

It was not easy for Schmidt be between the two superpowers - the United States and the Soviet Union in 1979 and its support to the deployment of NATO policy and negotiation to counter Soviet missile deployments was divisive in Germany.

His time as Chancellor ended with a parliamentary vote in October 1982, when the coalition partner of his party, the pro-business Free Democrats, allied with the Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl and conservatives formed a new government.

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