For eight years, between 1974 and 1982, Helmut Schmidt guided the destiny of the Federal Republic of Germany as Chancellor. On the 23rd of December 2008 the "pilot" as he is known, celebrated his 90th birthday.
85-year-old Henry Kissinger explained in his own words what he would wish Helmut Schmidt on his 90th birthday: "I hope he outlives me. Because, I don't want to be in a world without Schmidt." Hans-Dietrich Genscher describes the Hanseatic Schmidt as a man "who in the hour of danger and threat is the one who can confront a problem with caution but also with ruthless clarity and devastating accountability." Qualities of Schmidt's which were particularly visible in a crisis year 1977 and in the struggle against the Red Army Faction terrorists, during the hostage drama in the Lufthansa plane “Landshut”, and by the abduction and murder of leading businessman Hans-Martin Schleyer. Schmidt’s fellow over many years, the former President of France Giscard d´Estaing, describes his friend in these words: "He is not a man of evasion. He says what he thinks, and he is very loyal. If he promises something to you, he will keep his promise." Perhaps this offers some explanation for Schmidt's continuing popularity and the respect shown to him by younger people in particular -- and perhaps explains why, for more and more people, he is still "the German chancellor" no matter how old he gets.
This portrait depicts the crucial political moments of his years as Chancellor: the energy crisis and the international economic problem, terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons. Subjects which again -- or perhaps still – are of contemporary relevance.
Rubrecht Eser, Gunter Hofmann
Boris Becker, Rainer Schmidt
Heiner Gatzemeier, ZDF