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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Germany lost the man who could say what he thinks

Died Helmut Schmidt – former German Chancellor and one of the most respected people in Germany. 96-year-old veteran until his death, making plans for the future of Germany, Europe and around the world. His views are particularly valuable because based on the Foundation of an impressive biography and honest assessments of both personal and German experience.

Schmidt was born and died in Hamburg – but if to recall that Helmut Henrik Valdemar (his full name) was born a few weeks after the end of the First world war, it becomes clear how much all together his life.

“With the death of Helmut Schmidt, the Germans will be left without a national authority who could tell them what you really think”

Name Schmidt, his father Gustav, the illegitimate son of a Jewish merchant and a German woman-a waitress, received from adoptive parents. Learn to master Gustav married his colleague, Louis Koch, and their family had two boys. Senior was Helmut. Before the age of 55 years to lead Germany, he was a scharführer in the Hitler youth, served, and then fought in parts of the Reichswehr from 1937 to 1945 (including on the Eastern front). During the war, married a childhood friend Hannelore Glasser – in 1944 they had a boy, eight-month-old who died of meningitis, and two years later a daughter. More children of Helmut and Loki was not, but they lived a long life – wife, Schmidt had buried five years ago.

In April of ‘ 45, Lieutenant Schmidt was taken prisoner by the British, but in August, released, and enrolled at Hamburg University, studying law and political science.

The Hamburg had left the city, Schmidt joined the Social democratic party. Moreover, still in University, he was one of the organizers of the Socialist Union of German students, the unofficial youth wing of the SPD, created in this port city. In 1947-1948 Schmidt was even head of the Union and cleaned it from the Communists – so that by the time of graduation he was spotted by the leadership of the party. He graduated from high school in 1949 and then was formed the Federal Republic of Germany. 25 years later he would become its fifth Chancellor.

In the 50s Schmidt first worked in the economic Ministry of Hamburg and in 1953 was elected to the Bundestag, where for five years has been a loud critic of the government of the Christian Democrats. Then returned home, working in local government and three years later became a Senator for internal Affairs (in fact, the city’s Minister of the interior). Just at this time he receives and the all-German fame – he performed well during the floods of 1962, when thanks to the emergency measures managed to save many lives.

In the mid-60s, he returned to the Bundestag, and begins his Federal career. First – as the head of the SPD faction in the Parliament, and the party is already part of the ruling coalition, albeit as a Junior partner and Deputy head of the party, and then the Federal Minister. In the Schmidt government comes after his boss Willy Brandt, who in 1969 forms his first Cabinet. The social Democrats take power in Alliance with the free Democrats – and Schmidt became Minister of defense. Three years later he will sit in the chair of Minister of Economics, then headed by the Ministry of Finance.

Over the years there has been a reversal of the Federal Republic of Germany, Brandt begins to “Eastern policy”, which agrees with the GDR and Poland, and, most importantly, with the Soviet Union. Concluded first agreements on the pipelines – the rapprochement between Bonn and Moscow. So the Chancellor does not need the Atlanticist – and in the spring of 1974, a scandal embedded in the environment Brandt agent of the East German Stasi will force the Chancellor to resign.

Schmidt became head of the German government as a figure far more acceptable to the States – of course, he greatly softened the “Eastern policy”, but partly, especially in the economic sphere, continued the line of Brandt. In addition, the former Chancellor remained chief Schmidt as head of the SPD. Schmidt advocated the deployment of new American missiles in Europe, supported the boycott of the Olympics-80 – but his personal relationship with Brezhnev was good, though not as warm as with the anti-fascist Brandt, but also the psycho Schmidt was different.

A month before the death of Brezhnev Schmidt lost power. The reason was disagreement about financial and economic policy within the coalition in which the Junior partner, the free Democrats, defected to the Christian Democrats. The era of Helmut Kohl and Schmidt soon retired from politics. In 1984 he stopped, he was Deputy Brandt in the SPD, in 1987, ended his mandate as a Deputy of the Bundestag.

But, moving away from formal politics, Schmidt is left that can be called a politics of influence. He became one of the most respected people in Germany and the expert, to the words which listened. He was one of the co-publishers of the journal “die Zeit”, wrote books, traveled the world, consulted, gave an interview. And most importantly – think, analyze both past and what is happening, give estimates and projections. He lived after retirement for 33 years – long enough to see not only the collapse of the Berlin wall and the Soviet Union, but the crisis of the European Union, and the war in Ukraine – and, given his experience of being in power, the words of Schmidt, is expensive.

In 2008 in his book “retired”, he wrote that the West and primarily the US has not kept its promises on arms reduction, Moscow data after the end of the cold war, accusing Washington of “Imperial habits” and following a “strategy for expansion”. And this was written by someone called Atlanticist. Moreover, he said that “the hegemonic and imperialist forces in the USA are trying at all costs to achieve the undermining and collapse of the EU, because “capable and strong Europe is contrary to American strategic conceptions of world order and control over him.”

He also criticized European politicians who are arrogant and behave in relation to Russia in a condescending way, and “some of them still adhere to the style of the era of the cold war, although Russia does not give them any reason. German policy, noted Schmidt, constantly interfering in the internal Affairs of Russia, foment anti-Russian sentiment.

This is Schmidt wrote almost soon after the famous Putin’s speech in Munich – and at the end of 2013, he came to Moscow to Putin that, as he said, to say goodbye. Was euromaidan in Kiev, the German leaders refused to attend the opening of the Sochi Olympics, but the old Chancellor was optimistic:

“We actually became good neighbors, and I am one of the very many Germans who have always thought and now think that it is very important that between our countries was always good, good neighborhood… Neither the Russian people nor the German people there hate each other, and it really can only surprise us, because I, especially as a soldier in the Second world war, just can’t believe we got such a very good result which then even dream was possible. This can simply be called a miracle”.

Clearly, what was disappointing Schmidt, when a few months later began an open confrontation between the West and Russia – and the Chancellor did not remain silent.

He called the sanctions against Russia are nonsense, saying that they will not achieve the goal and hit in Russia and the countries of the West. Said said the decision to suspend cooperation with Russia in the G8 framework, and policy towards Ukraine was described as based on “one big misconception, which is that there is a nation of Ukrainians, a certain national identity. In reality, however, is the Crimea, Eastern and Western Ukraine”. Schmidt condemned the very idea of European integration of Ukraine: “the attempt of the European Commission to attach to itself Ukraine is megalomania, there was nothing we could do.”

Even before the Ukrainian crisis, Schmidt said that “the dominance of America in the world step by step will decrease the value of China step by step will increase, and Russia will be stepping in place. And in conversation with Putin, he stressed that “we will forever remain neighbours”:

“In spite of economic development or military development, binds us forever fate, we will always be neighbors. Still, of course, and Poland between us and Ukraine, and there are other States. But in good times and in bad times we still and will always be neighbors who depend on each other”.

Schmidt wanted the European integration was perceived as a non-violent project of the Association of Germans with the rest of Europe, and not as imposed German will build the new Reich:

“I am a staunch supporter of European integration even since 1948 – not from idealistic motives, but mainly on the basis of German national-egoistic motives. Our German nation lives in the heart of Europe, surrounded by a larger number of neighbors than other Europeans. And almost all of them, we fought. Now, the Germans are faced with a choice: either to continue what we have been doing for the last thousand years, namely, to invade the periphery, when we are strong, and when we are weak, to be driven back, or become part of the European community”.

Ex-Chancellor frankly said what he thought, not only about the invasion of the Germans on the periphery, but also about “human rights”, and about multiculturalism. He was allowed in Germany, what would peck another, not only to speak harsh things, and even smoke in the air. With the death of Helmut Schmidt, the Germans will be left without a national authority who could tell them what you really believe, without any indulgence to the shackles of “Atlantic solidarity” and the noose of “tolerance,” and based only on national interests.

The old Chancellor was not seeing retired Atlanticist – but just the wise German, who managed to make a fair conclusions from what was happening on his age. What he said in recent years, after some time will be in Germany’s political mainstream. So Schmidt will leave a long memory is not as Chancellor but as a sample of an intelligent German geopolitics.

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