A Life Lived for Germany


Germans owe a lot to Helmut Schmidt. On the death of the former chancellor and DIE ZEIT publisher, and contributor to The Atlantic Times

By Theo Sommer

November 10, 2015

In the past century, the Germans have produced but a few major statesmen of whom they can be proud. Helmut Schmidt was one of them. He now fills a prominent position in this country’s legion of honor ? but it is a position that he long ago took up in the hearts of its people. They will cherish a respectful and indeed loving memory of him as the man who tamed the massive and historic Hamburg flood of 1962 through his crisis management as the city’s police senator; as the man who declared war against the leftist terrorists with the Red Army Faction (RAF) and forced them to their knees at the airport in Mogadishu during the 1977 liberation of 86 hostages aboard the hijacked Lufthansa aircraft Landshut; as the economic policymaker who kept the country on course during the maelstrom of two oil crises; and as Praeceptor Germaniae, the former German chancellor who increasingly transcended the country’s political parties, including his own.

Historic stature is relative, bound to the conditions and needs of the moment. Helmut Schmidt’s greatness was of a different kind than that of Konrad Adenauer or Willy Brandt because his era was a different one. He didn’t have to lay foundations and he couldn’t just start from scratch. He had actually wanted to become an architect and city planner. But when he became Germany’s chancellor in May of 1974? unexpectedly and against his own will and expectations? the era of the architect had, for the moment, come to an end.

Read more: A Life Lived for Germany

Download Current Issue


Welcome to The Atlantic Times

This is the front page of our current issue. You can read all the main articles from the print edition on the website, or download a free PDF version of the paper. You can also search our archives for articles from previous issues.

In this issue


The limits of summitry

All smiles before the G-7 meeting at Elmau: EU President Donald Tusk, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Is the G-7 still fit for purpose in a changing geo-political landscape?

By Theo Sommer

June 19, 2015

The world is out of joint, and there is nobody to set it right. Under the violent impact of Islamism, state structures in the Middle East and North Africa are unraveling. Wars of religion shake up parts of Black Africa. Perilous confrontations are building up in the Asia-Pacific region. And 25 years after the end of the Cold War in Europe, armed conflict has returned to the Old World – hybrid, not total war, but violent nevertheless.

Old certainties have evaporated in the process: that Europe is irrevocably on the way to an ever closer union; that the security of Europe is central to US strategy; that Russia no longer poses a threat to Western nations; that the rise of Asia, especially of China, would play out in the economic field but would not have any geopolitical and geostrategic ramifications.

Challenges, crises and conflicts spawn conferences. The year 2015 has a surfeit of them. Three big UN summits will make headlines in the next six months: on financing development (Addis Ababa in July), on the follow-up to the Millennium Goals (New York in September), and on climate change (Paris in December).

Read more: The limits of summitry


Economic sanctions hurt everyone

Blocking trade does not only damage Russia’s economy. The Ukraine crisis should be solved by diplomacy

By Eckhard Cordes

June 19, 2015

The conflict over the future of Ukraine has become a major focus for the German business community’s Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations. The committee has organized many talks and conferences in Ukraine, Russia and Germany over the past 18 months of this ongoing crisis. It has become clear that the conflict did not begin in Kiev or in Crimea. It is the consequence of a profound loss of trust between Russia and the West that began over ten years ago. Both sides have grounds to self-critically examine the causes of that breakdown.

When the European Union enlarged by ten countries in 2004, expanding its borders to meet the western border of Russia, Moscow accepted it. The new proximity would generate immense opportunities that were obvious for both sides. The EU’s new eastern border was not intended to be a dividing line. Instead, it was to become more and more permeable for people and goods.

We experienced a phase of annual two-digit trade growth and constant growth in investment. The people of the EU, Russia and the neighboring countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia all benefited. At the end of 2003, a joint EU-Russian task force presented a concept for creating a common European economic region at a summit in Rome. Since then, the concept is waiting to be implemented.

Read more: Economic sanctions hurt everyone


The post-Wall party town

A girl on the West Berlin side watches a bricklayer working on the border on August 13, 1961. Overnight, from August 12 to August 13, thousands of soldiers and policemen began carrying out East German government orders to seal off roads and train tracks leading to West Berlin.

Berlin has become a playground for millions of visitors from around the world. But remnants of its darker past are still visible

By Alison Smale

June 19, 2015

Berlin – in many ways, it is fitting that Berlin played host to the UEFA  Champions League final at the beginning of June – even with no German team participating.  Not only is Germany the current holder of the World Cup. Not only was the national celebration of the victorious team held in Berlin, at the Brandenburg Gate. But it was Germany’s, and Berlin’s, hospitality and happiness at hosting the 2006 World Cup which decisively put the newly imagined capital of reunited Germany on the tourist map.

Berlin is the most visited urban tourist destination in Germany. Foreign visitors totaled some 4.5 million last year. Foreign overnight stays have increased from 7.45 million in 2009 to some 12.5 million last year. On any given weekend, a multitude of languages is heard as young people from all over roam Berlin in search of its legendary techno, or simply a good time. The lack of a “Sperrstunde,’’ or closing time, in many bars has long given Berliners a reputation as night owls. Now the rest of the world joins in!

Behind these figures and images lurks a considerably more somber, murderous   past. Today, Berlin may seem relaxed, tolerant and open to many. But reminders of the times when this was not so are everywhere.

Read more: The post-Wall party town