Helmut Schmidt, 1918-2015

The eminent politician and statesman Helmut Schmidt died on November 10 at the age of 96 and a state funeral took place in Hamburg on November 23. Many obituaries and tributes have been written outlining his career and achievements. The high point of his career was undoubtedly his years as chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982. But when he lost the chancellorship to Helmut Kohl and left parliament he continued to be in the public eye as he became an editor of the weekly Die Zeit in which he regularly wrote columns. He offered his advice and analysis in interviews, appeared on radio and television, gave speeches and much more. All this activity resulted in numerous publications many of which are held by the University Library. Our catalogue lists over 40 entries for Helmut Schmidt as author, editor or contributor.Helmut Schmidt 001edsmall

The earliest publication by Helmut Schmidt that the library holds is in fact from 1962 when he was at the beginning of his career serving as senator in Hamburg. The work Defence or retaliation: a German contribution to the consideration of NATO’s strategic problem (214.c.96.38) is a translation of his Verteidigung oder Vergeltung which had been published in 1961. The German original was reissued four times during the 1960s. The work is an early indication of Helmut Schmidt’s political clear-sightedness.

During the first years of his chancellorship Helmut Schmidt published a collection of speeches and interviews under the title Kontinuitat und Konzentration (571:76.c.95.204) which provides us with an outline of policies and agendas he wanted to pursue as chancellor. The title of the book is taken from the statement he made on May 17, 1974 on the presentation of his government. The library holds the second edition issued in 1976.

cover schmidtThe majority of Helmut Schmidt’s publications in the library are, of course, from the time after his chancellorship. The latest work added to our catalogue recently is the volume of very personal recollections entitled Was ich noch sagen wollte (C204.d.1124), only published this summer. This work might be considered a summation of his life and it is good to know that Helmut Schmidt was able to see this in print.

In addition to the books by Helmut Schmidt there are, of course, many about him: analyses of his political achievements, biographies, etc. Our catalogue lists over 30 entries with him as a subject. So anyone interested in Helmut Schmidt will find a wealth of material at Cambridge University Library. New material is being added continually; only this week a substantial biography by the renowned journalist Gunter Hofmann was published which the library will acquire.

Christian Staufenbiel

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