Schmidt, Helmut

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Schmidt, Helmut

Helmut Schmidt (hĕl´mŏŏt shmĬt), 1918–, German political leader, chancellor of West Germany (1974–82). After serving in World War II, he entered politics and joined the Social Democratic party. He was elected to the Bundestag in 1953. Schmidt was Social Democrat leader in the Bundestag (1967–69) and in 1968 became party vice chairman. When the Social Democrat–Free Democrat coalition government was formed in 1969, he became minister of defense under Chancellor Willy Brandt. In 1972 he was made finance minister. Schmidt was elevated to the post of chancellor in May, 1974, in the wake of Brandt's resignation as a result of a spy scandal. He promoted better ties with East Germany and the USSR; cultivated ties with France, and economic cooperation among western European nations, while maintaining close relations with the U.S. He and the French president helped establish annual world economic summits of leaders from industrialized countries. In 1982 the Free Democrats withdrew from the coalition, and Schmidt's government was brought down by a vote of no confidence. He has been publisher of Die Zeit since 1983.

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