Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt dies at age of 96

Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt who served for eight years has died at age of 96

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt died at the age of 96

Updated Nov 11, 2015

Ex-German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who led the country from 1974 to 1982 at the height of the Cold War, has died at the age of 96, his office in Hamburg announced on Tuesday.

Schmidt, who was a social democrat was a leading proponent of European integration.

He is known for his contribution to the European Monetary System, that became the main step on the path to linked EU currencies, which later paved the way to euro.

Schmidt, a chain smoker, was told by his doctor that he caught an infection after having surgery to remove a blood clot from his leg about two months ago.

European Parliament head Martin Schulz, who is also a social democrat tweeted, "I am deeply saddened by Helmut Schmidt's death. He was an outstanding chancellor, his death is a loss for Germany and Europe."

At the time of Schmidt being in power, the Berlin Wall dividing West and East Germany was the front line in a dangerous Cold War.

Schmidt, due to West Germany's position within NATO and Europe, had a moderate approach towards Moscow and communist East Germany.

From left: Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Britain, President Gerald Ford of the United States, President Valéry Giscard;Estaing of France and Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany in Helsinki in 1975.

He dealt with the ultra-left Red Army Faction, whose attacks on political and business establishments included a series of killings and kidnappings, which reached its highest level in 1977.

Another challenge for him was that he let America deploy medium-range nuclear missiles on West German soil to maintain the military balance, despite fierce protests at home.

In 1982, the coalition led by Schmidt's party collapsed and he lost to Helmut Kohl.

He was taken prisoner by the British, during World War Two.

Schmidt was born in the northern port of Hamburg in 1918 and was married for 68 years to his childhood sweetheart, Loki, who died in 2010.

TRTWorld and agencies