Biography of Schmidt, Helmut Heinrich Waldemar - Archontology
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Schmidt, Helmut Heinrich Waldemar

Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt

b. 23 Dec 1918, Hamburg-Barmbek, German Reich

Title: Bundeskanzler (Federal Chancellor)
Term: 16 May 1974 - 15 Dec 1976
Chronology: 16 May 1974, elected federal chancellor at the 97th session of the 7th Bundestag [1]
  16 May 1974, appointed by the Bundespräsident (Federal President)
  16 May 1974, sworn in at the 98th session of the 7th Bundestag
Term: 15 Dec 1976 - 5 Nov 1980
Chronology: 15 Dec 1976, elected federal chancellor at the 2nd session of the 8th Bundestag [1]
  15 Dec 1976, appointed by the Bundespräsident (Federal President)
  15 Dec 1976, sworn in at the 3rd session of the 8th Bundestag
Term: 5 Nov 1980 - 1 Oct 1982
Chronology: 5 Nov 1980, elected federal chancellor at the 2nd session of the 9th Bundestag [1]
  5 Nov 1980, appointed by the Bundespräsident (Federal President)
  5 Nov 1980, sworn in at the 3rd session of the 9th Bundestag
  1 Oct 1982, Helmut Kohl elected Federal Chancellor by constructive vote of no confidence; Schmidt discharged by the Federal President

After being drafted into state service in 1937, Helmut Schmidt served in the military, rising to lieutenant. Towards the end of World War II, he was captured by the British forces. After his release Schmidt studied economics and political science in Hamburg. In March 1946, he became a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and served as national chairman of the Organization of German Socialist Students (1947-1948). From 1949 to 1953 he worked in the city government of Hamburg, ultimately as head of the Department of Economics and Transportation. Schmidt was elected to the Bundestag in 1953. After the elections in 1957 he was included in the SPD parliamentary caucus, and in 1958 Schmidt became a member of the SPD federal board. In 1961-1965 Schmidt served on the Hamburg Senate, but returned to the Bundestag in 1965. He became the chairman of the SPD parliamentary caucus in 1967, and was elected to the post of deputy chairman of the SPD (1968-1983). In 1969 Chancellor Willy Brandt brought Schmidt into the executive branch of the federal government as defense minister (22 Oct 1969 - 7 Jul 1972). By 1972 Schmidt was the second man in the government after he replaced Karl Schiller as economy and finance minister (7 Jul 1972 - 15 Dec 1972). In the second government of Brandt, Schmidt served as finance minister (15 Dec 1972 - 16 May 1974). When Brandt resigned as head of government in May 1974, Helmut Schmidt was elected as Federal Chancellor on 16 May 1974. The Social Democrats suffered losses in the parliamentary elections on 3 Oct 1976, but they had enough seats in the Bundestag to form another coalition government with the Free Democrats (FDP). Schmidt was reelected chancellor on 15 Dec 1976 and continued Brandt's policy of rapprochement with East Germany and the Communist bloc of eastern Europe. Also in association with the President of French Republic Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, he assumed a position of leadership in the European Community. In December 1979 Schmidt's government approved the installation of U.S. intermediate range nuclear missiles in Germany. In the next elections in October 1980, the SPD-FDP improved their performance by adding 4 and 14 seats in the Bundestag respectively. Schmidt formed his third government. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Schmidt succeeded in convincing the SPD to support the NATO expansion plans. However, on 17 Sep 1982 four FDP ministers resigned their offices. The broke-up of the coalition signaled an end of the SPD dominance, which lasted for 13 years. The constructive vote of no confidence in the Bundestag (1 Oct 1982) succeeded for the first time in German history. Helmut Kohl (CDU/CSU) was elected the new federal chancellor. In 1983 Schmidt became co-publisher of Die Zeit, Germany's prestigious weekly newspaper. He resigned from the Bundestag in September 1986. Biography source: [3]


Dates 16 May 1974 15 Dec 1976 5 Nov 1980
Bundestag members/absolute majority 496/249 496/249 497/249
Votes cast 492 (+22) [2] 495 (+22) 491 (+22)
Yes 267 (+13) 250 (+11) 266 (+11)
No 225 (+9) 243 (+11) 222 (+11)
Abstentions 0 1 2
Invalid 0 1 1

[1] "Datenhandbuch zur Geschichte des Deutschen Bundestages" (Bonn, 1983, 1994).
[2] Votes of the representatives of Berlin are shown in parentheses.
[3] "Die deutschen Kanzler von Bismarck bis Kohl", ed. by Wilhelm von Sternburg (Berlin: Aufbau-Taschenbuch-Verl., 1998).