The airport in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg is proud to carry the name of Helmut Schmidt, in honour of Hamburg’s most famous son of the 20th century. Who was he, this “man of the century”, born here in 1918, who despite growing up during the scourge of National Socialism, went on to become a Chancellor driven by a firm belief in European cooperation? An exhibition in Terminal 2 provides an overview of the life and work of Helmut Schmidt. Here is a short summary:
From 1974 until 1982, Hamburg’s Helmut Schmidt was the Chancellor of the Federal German Republic. During his time in office, he oversaw the consequences of the 1970s oil crisis with its severe repercussions for the global economy, new approaches to international cooperation in global policies, the terrorist attacks by radical leftist group known as the RAF and the debate surrounding the NATO double-track decision in 1979. His political efforts were always driven by his profound belief that cooperation between European states was the means to guarantee a peaceful future, as he sought to create an understanding in Germany of its neighbouring countries.
With his straight talking demeanour that sometimes bordered on abrupt, Helmut Schmidt was for many the typical Hanseatic man. He was closely bound to the city of his birth through his life. As the Senator for Interior Affairs he made a name for himself as a crisis manager across the Federal German Republic during the great floods of February 1962. His opinions on global events and political matters in the public discourse were widely sought right up until his death, particularly as a co-publisher of the Hamburg weekly news publication, DIE ZEIT.
Helmut Schmidt and his wife Hannelore “Loki” and their daughter Susanne moved to Hamburg-Langenhorn in 1961. He remained a neighbour of Hamburg Airport until his death, thus staying true to the city of his birth despite the allures of the Chancellor’s residence in Bonn. Several foreign heads of state were guests in his semi-detached home in the north of Hamburg – making Hamburg Airport at times a sort of second official national airport during the 1970’s.
Aviation in Hamburg
At the beginning of the 1950s, as the head of the Department of Transport in Hamburg, Helmut Schmidt lay the foundations for what would become one of the major aviation locations worldwide, providing employment for approximately 40,000 employees of 300 companies large and small across the region. He became a member of the Airbus Germany supervisory board in 1990, and an honorary Chairman of the supervisory board for Hamburg Airport in 1991.