Human life expectancy has improved exponentially over the past 100 years. From dying at the age of 30, the average today is at 72. Deaths nowadays are often attributed to poor lifestyle choices. But have you heard about Helmut Schmidt, a heavy smoker who lived until he reached the age of 96?
Helmut Schmidt was the oldest living German Chancellor before his death at the age of 96. Schmidt was an avid smoker, always seen smoking cigarettes during interviews and features.
Who was Helmut Schmidt?
Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt was born in Hamburg, Germany, on December 23, 1918. He was the son of two teachers, half-Jewish Gustav Schmidt and Ludovika Koch. He and his brother, Wolfgang, were raised in a working-class household. Schmidt attended the Hamburg Lichtwark School prior to joining the army for the second world war.
In his younger years, Schmidt was a Scharführer, a group leader in the Hitler Youth organization but was demoted and ultimately forced to leave because of his anti-Nazi opinions. He soon served in the second world war with an anti-aircraft battery at Vegesack near Bremen.
While in active service, Schmidt became a prisoner of war in Belgium after the British apprehended him in 1945. The following year after his release, he started his career in politics. Schmidt became a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, where he served as the student leader of the Socialist German Student League.
After completing his education at the University of Hamburg and earning his degrees in Economics and Political Sciences in 1949, Schmidt joined the government office of Hamburg. In 1953, he became a member of the Bundestag for Hamburg.
Schmidt was a celebrated political figure well into the mid-eighties. He was also a heavy smoker, often seen lighting up during interviews and television features. He was eventually fitted with a pacemaker in 1981 because of this. But despite the fact, Schmidt remained to be an active social figure until his death on November 10, 2015. (Source: The Famous People)
Helmut Schmidt’s Political Career
By 1961, Schmidt became the senator of the Interior of Hamburg, gaining praise for excelling at his job despite many obstacles he faced. In 1967, he was appointed chairman of the Social Democratic parliamentary party, following the Grand Coalition of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the Christian Democratic Union.
By 1969, Schmidt became the minister of defense, and in three years, he replaced Karl Schiller as the minister for economics and finances. Then in 1974, Schmidt became the Chancellor after the Guillaume Affair, where former chancellor Brandt resigned due to an espionage scandal.
Schmidt was an admired chancellor, both locally and internationally. He pursued the restoration of closer ties with Soviet countries while tirelessly working on strengthening West Germany’s alliance with the United States. (Source: The Famous People)
What Happened to Helmut Schmidt After His Term?
In 1986, Schmidt resigned from being West Germany’s Chancellor after a disagreement with the Social Democratic parliamentary party’s left wing, which was against his views on defense and economic issues.
Schmidt focused on his writing, having published books like Menschen und Mächte, and Weggefährten, after publishing a few books while serving the nation as a chancellor. In December 1986, he was one of the founders of the committee supporting the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union and the creation of the European Central Bank. (Source: New World Encyclopedia)