Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who led the country for eight years at the height of the Cold War, has died at the age of 96, his office in Hamburg said on Tuesday (November 10).
Schmidt was West Germany’s second centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor from 1974 to 1982 and a leading proponent of European integration.
Media reported that Schmidt caught an infection after having surgery to remove a blood clot from his leg about two months ago.
In recent years, Schmidt, a chain smoker, was a frequent talk show guest and he commanded more respect as an elder statesman than he did when he led the country.
“I am deeply saddened by Helmut Schmidt’s death. He was an outstanding chancellor, his death is a loss for Germany and Europe,” tweeted European Parliament head Martin Schulz, a Social Democrat.
As chancellor, Schmidt tried to balance a conciliatory tone towards Moscow and Communist East Germany with a strengthening of West Germany’s standing within NATO and Europe.
Tief betroffen ü Tod Helmut Schmidts. Er war ein herausragender Kanzler, sein Tod markiert eine Zäsur für Deutschland u Europa. 1/2— Martin Schulz (@MartinSchulz) November 10, 2015
Schmidts intellektuelle Brillanz, analytische Schärfe, Geradlinigkeit u Prinzipientreue bleiben unvergleichlich. 2/2— Martin Schulz (@MartinSchulz) November 10, 2015