Helmut Schmidt is the neglected chancellor of modern German history, overshadowed by ‘the greats’ – Bismarck, Adenauer, Brandt and Kohl. This volume retrieves Schmidt’s true significance as a pivotal figure who helped reshape the global order during the crisis-ridden 1970s. This major reinterpretation, based on detailed research in Schmidt’s private papers and numerous archives in Europe and America, reveals him as a leader equally skilled in economics and security, and adept at personal diplomacy, who dared to act as a ‘double interpreter’ between the superpowers during the nadir of the Cold War.
His achievements were prodigious. Hailed as the ‘world economist’, Schmidt helped create the G7 forum for global economic governance and the European Monetary System at a time when capitalism seemed on the rocks. And as the ‘strategist of balance’, he designed NATO’s ‘dual-track’ response to the crisis caused by the massive Soviet arms build-up. This decision, Kristina Spohr argues, played a crucial part in holding together the Western alliance and paved the way to defusing the Cold War in Europe.
Schmidt brought his country to the top table of world politics – what he unashamedly called Weltpolitik – as an equal of the wartime victor powers. It was through his Chancellorship that West Germany came of age on the global stage.