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8/17/15

EU: Germany In, With And For Europe - by Helmut Schmidt

The following is the transcript of a speech former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt held at the party congress of the SPD in Berlin on 4th December 2011. Look back at the European developments of the last 4 years and you will see how up to date this speech is.

Let me begin on a personal note. When Sigmar Gabriel, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and my party asked me once again for a contribution, I recalled with pleasure that, 65 years ago today, I was kneeling on the floor with my wife, Loki, painting invitation posters for the SPD in the Neugraben district of Hamburg. But I must admit that at my age I am beyond good and evil in respect of any party politics. For a long time now my two major interests have been the tasks facing this country and the role it should play in the crucial arena of European integration.

I am pleased to share this lectern with Jens Stoltenberg from Norway who, in the midst of the profound misfortune his country has suffered, has provided us and all Europeans with a shining example of unwavering, constitutional, liberal and democratic leadership.

When you’re as old as I am, you have a natural tendency to take a long-term perspective – both backwards into history and forwards into the future, in which you place your hopes and your aspirations. That said, I nonetheless found it impossible to give a straightforward answer to a very simple question put to me just a few days ago by Wolfgang Thierse, who asked me when I thought Germany would finally become a normal country. I answered by saying that Germany would not be a “normal” country in the foreseeable future.

Standing in the path to normality is the enormous and unique burden of our history. A further stumbling block is the economically and demographically dominant central position Germany occupies in the middle of our very small continent with its multitude of different nation

For the complete transcript of the speech Germany In, With And For Europe click here

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