Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt died on 10 November and was buried on 21 November in his home town Hamburg. He served as Chancellor of what was then known as West Germany from 1974 to 1982. Schmidt served at a time when the Cold War was at its height. He came to office when Chancellor Willy Brandt resigned amid a political scandal.
Helmut Schmidt had many faces.When he was young he was a very aggressive speaker in parliament and was known as 'Schmidt Schnauze', which means he was an aggressive spokesman prone to biting back. Later he became milder but still was always very outspoken and clear cut in his expression of views. He was not a moderator but he was definitely a leader. This probably distinguishes him most from many of the present day politicians in his country. And this is why his voice will be missed nationally and internationally.
Helmut Schmidt had many international friends and among them he felt especially close to Lee Kwan Yew, the long-time leader of Singapore who died a few months ago. For Lee, Helmut Schmidt had the highest respect for the way he had developed Singapore into an international crown jewel and for the manner in which he had kept his country together in peace. Some of his other well-known international friends were all present at the burial ceremony in the city of Hamburg. Henry Kissinger in a moving speech called him the 'conscience of the world'. Giscard d'Estaing, the former President of France, also paid tribute to him.
Helmut Schmidt, who died at the age of 96, used to smoke a lot. He was never seen without a cigarette between in his fingers, even in places where smoking was not permitted. Around him the presence of a menthol cigarette was a commonly scene.
Schmidt was known as someone who did things instead of just talking about them. In 1962, when Hamburg was flooded and 300 people died, he took quick action by putting German and NATO military resources into use although the action was legally questionable. But he did save the lives of probably thousands of citizens in his home town of Hamburg. He was known as a crisis manager, a quality he displayed during the oil crisis of the 1970s. As Germany's Chancellor, he clamped a ban on car-driving on Sundays. He was also quick to act against Germany's homegrown terrorism of the 1970s.
After Helmut Kohl succeeded him as Chancellor in 1982, Helmut Schmidt took up a new job, that of publisher of the well-known newspaper Die Zeit. He was a constant presence in all the media trying to spell out policies and strategies to Germans, mainly about their international role in Europe and the world.
Helmut Schmidt was also a friend of China and was deeply interested in Asian
He was, as the tributes paid to him after his death made clear, a political giant as well as a close friend of ordinary people.
Nazmun Nesa Piari ? poet, writer and
broadcaster ? writes from Berlin, Germany