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Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt (born December 23, 1918) was a German SPD politician and Bundeskanzler of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1974-1982.

He was born in Hamburg, the son of two teachers. He was educated at Hamburg Lichwark school, graduating with an Abitur in 1937. He was conscripted into military service and began WW II serving with Bremen air defences, after brief service on the Eastern Front[?] he retunred to Germany in 1942 to work as a trainer and advisor at the Reichsluftfahrtministerium. also in 1942 he married Hannelore Glaser. Towards the end of the war, from December 1944, he served as an Oberleutnant in the artillery on the Western Front. He was captured by the British in April 1945 in Lüneburger(?) and was a POW until August.

He completed his education in Hamburg, studying economics and political science he graduated in 1949. He had joined the SPD in 1946 and at university from 1947-48 he was leader of the SDS[?]. On leaving university he entered local government in Hamburg, working in the wirtschaftspolitischen (politcal economics?) department and then from 1952, under Karl Schiller[?], he was a senior figure in the Behörde für Wirtschaft und Verkehr. From 1953 until 1962 he worked for the SPD on the Deutschen Bundestages (and again from 1965 until 1987). He was elected to the the German parliament, Bundestag, in 1953 and in 1957 he joined the SPD Mitglied des Fraktionsvorstands. He was a vocal critic of government policy. In 1958 he joined the SPD Bundesvorstand and campaigned against nuclear weapons and the equipping of the Bundeswehr with such devices. In 1958 he lost his seat.

From 1961 he was 1965 he was Innensenator on the Hamburg Senate, he improved his reputation with his active efforts during the 1962 flooding in the city. He was re-elected to the Bundestag in 1965 and became head of the SPD in the Bundestag in 1967 and deputy chairman of the party in 1968. He had his first cabinet post in October 1969 under Willy Brandt, he was Defence Minister. In 1972 he was Minister for Economics from July to November and Minister of Finance from December until May 1974.

He became Bundeskanzler on May 16, 1974 after the resignation of Brandt. The worldwide economic recession was the main concern of his government, Schmidt took a tough and conservative line. He was also active in improving relations with France and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and in 1975 he was a signatory of the Helsinki Final Act to create the OSCE. He remained Bundeskanzler after the 1976 elections in coalition with the FDP. His policy over the terrorist Rote Armee Fraktion was uncertain but he usually held to a tough, no compromise line. He tied his political future strongly to NATO expansion following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and tied his party firmly to the "double resolution" for the elections in 1980. He was reappointed Bundeskanzler in November 1980. In October 1981 he was fitted with a cardiac pacemaker.

In 1982 he won a vote of no confidence[?] in February but in September four FDP ministers left his cabinet and after attempts to continue with a minority SDP only government he was forced from office by a Constructive Vote of No Confidence on October 1, the first in German history to be successful. He was succeeded by Helmut Kohl.

In 1983 he joined Die Zeit[?] as co-editor, in 1985 he became Managing Director. With Takeo Fukuda he founded the InterAction Councils[?] in 1983. He retired from the Bundestag in 1986 but remained active, in December 1986 he was one of the founders of the committee supporting the EMU and the creation of the European Central Bank.

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