• Germany's news in English

Elder statesman Graf Lambsdorff dies

AFP · 6 Dec 2009, 21:03

Published: 06 Dec 2009 21:03 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Lambsdorff's office said in statement that he died suddenly Saturday in the former West German capital Bonn. The cause of death was not immediately clear.

The aristocrat was long one of the leading lights of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), which served in most coalition governments since World War II including Chancellor Angela Merkel's current centre-right alliance.

A fiscal conservative and former economy minister, he recently blasted Merkel's government for planning tax cuts in the face of a ballooning budget deficit while continuing heavy spending to emerge from the economic crisis.

"If you are taking in less, you must spend less - it's as easy as that," he said.

Born Otto Friedrich Wilhelm von der Wenge Graf Lambsdorff on December 20, 1926 in the western city of Aachen, he pursued studies in law before entering politics.

Known for his sharp tongue, bushy eyebrows and the walking stick he used after a leg injury in the war, Lambsdorff joined the FDP in 1951 and was elected to the Bundestag lower house of parliament in 1972.

He rose quickly through the ranks and became economy minister in 1977 under the Social Democratic chancellor Helmut Schmidt. But he successfully agitated for Schmidt's ouster in favour of the Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl in 1982.

His image tarnished in the wake of a major political contributions scandal linked to the Flick conglomerate and he was forced to step down as minister and later pay a DM180,000 fine (€90,000). But he retained his seat in parliament and in 1988 was elected chairman of the FDP, which he led until 1993.

Story continues below…

Merkel said Sunday Lambsdorff as among the "great personalities" behind Germany's unique "social market economy" which advocates free markets with respect for social justice, and praised his work to compensate forced labourers.

In 1999, then chancellor Gerhard Schröder appointed Lambsdorff to lead negotiations with the US government and lawyers and organisations representing victims of the vast Nazi-era programme on a reparations plan funded by the German government and industry.

After two years of talks, the result was a DM10-billion package that garnered international praise.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd