On January 12, 2016, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) hosted a discussion on the life and legacy of Helmut Schmidt, a statesman who served as chancellor, defense minister, and finance minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as longtime publisher of the weekly German newspaper Die Zeit. The discussion featured former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Dr. Henry Kissinger and two of Schmidt’s former colleagues at Die Zeit: Dr. Theo Sommer, former editor and publisher and Schmidt biographer, and Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Dr. Karen Donfried provided an introduction, and The Washington Post columnist and GMF Trustee David Ignatius moderated the panel.
— German Marshall Fund (@gmfus) January 12, 2016
The discussion included reflections by each panelist on their relationship with Helmut Schmidt. Kissinger offered many words of respect for the former Chancellor, describing him as “a man whom you could absolutely count on,” committed to principles and to Europe, and possessing the two key qualities of a statesman: courage and wisdom, “together with an enormous humanity.” Sommer and Stelzenmüller commented on Schmidt as a dedicated and tenacious colleague at Die Zeit, with Stelzenmüller detailing the impact that Schmidt had on her career and education as a journalist.
Henry Kissinger: The essence of the 60 y friendship w Helmut Schmidt was we knew we would always say the truth to each other", #gmfSchmidt
— Ivan Vejvoda (@IVejvoda) January 12, 2016
In addition to their reflections on their interactions with Schmidt, the panelists discussed issues currently facing the transatlantic partners. Particularly, the discussants grappled with Schmidt’s positions on Russia, Germany’s role in the world, and European stability, as well as his legacy on these issues today. With the discussion opening to those in attendance, additional emphasis was given to Euro-Atlantic relations with Russia, German-American relations, and on Schmidt’s relationships with former and current German political leadership. The discussion was held in partnership with the ZEIT Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, American Friends of Bucerius, the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR) at Johns Hopkins-SAIS, Georgetown’s BMW Center, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS), and the American Council on Germany.