NEW: The head of NATO recalls Schmidt as "a great statesman" and "insightful leader"
Chancellor from 1974 to 1982, Schmidt remained active after leaving office
He died at age 96 in his hometown of Hamburg
Helmut Schmidt, who was West Germany’s chancellor from 1974 to 1982, has died in his hometown of Hamburg, staffers in two of his offices said Tuesday.
Employees at Schmidt’s office in Germany’s parliament and his personal office both told CNN that he had died.
He was 96.
Schmidt was West Germany’s second Social Democrat chancellor until his government was brought down by a coalition split. He remained politically active after he left office and was replaced by Helmut Kohl – including following the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990 – and even after he had a heart attack and emergency bypass operation in 2002, when he was 83.
According to the European Leadership Network, Schmidt served West Germany’s government in many capacities besides chancellor – including as defense minister, finance minister and, for a brief time, acting foreign minister.
Even at 96, he was still “one of the most renowned political publicists in Germany,” the London-based think tank says.
Many in Germany mourned his death, including current Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
“The passing of former Chllr #HelmutSchmidt fills me with great sadness,” Steinmeier’s office tweeted. “#RIP.”
His loss was also felt elsewhere in Europe. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called Schmidt “a great statesman who believed in the European project” and “an insightful leader who understood that there is no contradiction between a strong defense and dialogue.”
“With the death of Helmut Schmidt, Europe has lost one of its great leaders,” added European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. “I admired the depth of Helmut Schmidt’s knowledge and the warmth of his personality.”