They were both chancellors of Europe’s most important country as far as political influence and economic strength is concerned. They were companions, partners and rivals. It was a “difficult friendship” which ensured their mutual loyalty.
Gunter Hofmann takes a closer look at what Willy Brandt – Germany’s chancellor between 1969 and 1974 – and his successor Helmut Schmidt had in common and what kept them from intensifying their alliance. Brandt, who died in 1992, immigrated to Scandinavia to evade living in Nazi Germany. Schmidt, who will turn 96 later this year, grew up in Germany.
Brandt was a rather emotional character while Schmidt has always been regarded as cool, northern thinker. Both politicians, arguably two of the most charismatic Social Democrats in Europe, were confronted with dangers for their country caused by the Cold War.
Hofmann, a Friedrich Ebert Foundation Award laureate, previously released an acclaimed book about former German President Richard von Weizsäcker. His new achievement will be appreciated no less than his Weizsäcker biography.
Willy Brandt und Helmut Schmidt. Geschichte einer schwierigen Freundschaft.
By Gunter Hofmann
Published by C.H. Beck (www.beck.de)