Helmut Schmidt: The Man Who Saved German Democracy
There are figures in modern history who stand above the crowd in terms of their role in the defense of democracy. Among them are Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor who died this week.
“In those years, Mr. Schmidt, a former Luftwaffe officer, probably saved Germany’s still untested young democracy. Terror was defanged, but not at the cost of liberty or the rule of law. Today, Germany is arguably the most liberal polity in Europe,” writes Josef Joffe in the Wall Street Journal.
He was one of Germany’s most enduringly popular politicians, a master of realpolitik who was admired at home for his unwavering principles and abroad as a pioneer of international economic cooperation.
” His insistence on maintaining a balanced budget during an economic slowdown irritated his colleagues who were pushing for a stimulus; his push to station U.S. nuclear missiles on German territory angered the many members of the party’s grassroots who preferred to pursue rapprochement with the Soviet Union. Schmidt, for his part, scorned the inspiration-peddling politicians who stoked the idealism of late 1960s and 1970s Germany — and did so, according to Schmidt, in order to feed their own egos,” added Foreign Policy’s Cameron Abadi, who conducted one of the last interviews with Schmidt.
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