This is the modest prosperity of the 1960s and 1970s of the old Federal Republic, which has spread over the years in this semi-detached house in Hamburg-Langenhorn: many discoveries full – and long-lived, backed by Persian carpets on easy-to-maintain tiled floors behind red brick.
Or paraphrase Peer Steinbrück, who is chairman of the Chancellor Helmut Schmidt Foundation, founded in 2016, since January 2017: “Countless books, art on the walls, a piano in the hall, but above all thousands of small memorabilia with a recognizable tendency to knickknacks gave the house something alive. No painted interior, but also no stuffed things. “
The home of Helmut and Loki Schmidt looks good to many children’s booms, even though they have never been there. Built by the Neue Heimat’s own housing association and moved in shortly before Christmas Eve 1961, people were very proud of such a terraced house. After the war, the period of temporary accommodation after the war and the loss of a house or apartment due to bombing usually ended.
122 square meters of living space – that’s where it started
From then on, however, we still knew what could become important and what was better not to forget: Many soldiers returned from captivity with carved objects with which they had gone through time. For example, inexperienced hands were supposed to show letter openers, Helmut Schmidt played pin chess (which is still complete today). It is about 15 x 15 centimeters; As a British prisoner of war in Belgium, Schmidt colored black fields with a spare coffee. It goes without saying that in these households there has always been a functioning and, above all, impact-resistant lamp. This and other findings are provided by a book that has just been published and published by Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
A view of a study at the home of former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and his wife Loki in Hamburg Langenhorn … Photo: imago images / Stephan Wallocha
It comes at the right time. The Chancellor’s Townhouse cannot be displayed due to a pandemic; Even without Covid-19, it would be difficult to gain a place in one of the few small groups run by Schmidt’s home.
According to an extract from the real estate cadastre, it originally had 122 square meters of living space; The property had 615 square meters. Helmut Schmidt liked to flirt with – compared to villas on Alster – modest possessions. Over the decades, the Schmidts have been able to expand the house and garden through extensions and acquisitions. Today, the house has a size of 422 square meters and the property 1905 square meters.
In 1989, Helmut Loki had a greenhouse built
The excellent texts of the author team from the foundation of the Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt with many photographs by Michael Zapf offer a visual tour of the house, in which private and public, human and political are inseparably mixed. How else could it be? Helmut Schmidt’s stylization of this home as a completely normal bourgeois home, which was occasionally a scene of world politics during state visits, is reflected in the volume of words and images. Areas such as the bedroom and basement, as well as the family bathroom, are rightly excluded.
You can really show something like this to very good friends only when it is tidy. But even without this knowledge, it begins with a journey through time and German history. The interior shots of the living room, dominated by paneling and book walls, are reminiscent of an educated middle class.
Hamburg Chancellery View of a bar in the house of former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and his wife Loki in … Photo: imago images / Stephan Wallocha
Elsewhere, the 1970s emerge from oblivion (kitchen!), Scandinavian furniture design can be found on four legs, reminiscent of northern Germany (Die Knotentafel! Bar in the house!) And Schmidt’s art (Barlach! Nolde!). But the zeitgeist also speaks from the floral motifs that Loki Schmidt marked on the wallboards “For the love of nature”. Even those who would rather not become a botanist, such as Loki Schmidt, painted or drew plants in the 1950s and 1960s and hung more or less successful works on the wall: old paintings were mostly burned in the war.
Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and his wife Hannelore Schmidt on their land in Hamburg-Langenhorn, which over the years … Photo: imago / Sven Simon
Loki Schmidt’s dream came true with the garden, and her husband knew how to make her a special pleasure. On the seventieth birthday of Hannelore in 1989, he had a greenhouse built for a relatively lush 123,000 German marks. The sanctuary of the glass plant is equipped with all partitions: there had to be electrically operated windows, heating and an irrigation system. And so in the northern German lowlands, the dull red climbing cactus Selenicereu wittii thrived, which otherwise occurs only in the flooded forests of the Amazon river (and in several botanical gardens).
A memorial stone for the firstborn lies under the cherries
Particularly moving – and probably written in such detail for the first time – is the very personal story of the Schmidts, which refers to the last years of the war in Bernau near Berlin. Here they were happy with their firstborn. Helmut Walter Schmidt was born on June 26, 1944 and died only seven months later, probably of meningitis. When his son died, Helmut Schmidt was already assigned to the Western Front. It wasn’t until a few months later that he learned of the boy’s death – by letter from the field post office.
How it must have affected him can be deduced from the fact that the business journalist Susanne Schmidt (born 1947) usually thinks only of the children of Helmut and Loki. He didn’t talk about it. A boy named Moritzelchen was buried in Schönow in the district of Bernau. There are children’s graves, but Helmut Walter Schmidt is reminiscent of nothing. Due to the division of Germany, the Schmidt’s path to the grave was blocked.
It was not until 1979 that Loki Schmidt found a grave site with the help of Herbert Wehner, chairman of the SPD party in the German Bundestag, GDR negotiator Wolfgang Vogel and responsible pastor Norbert Lautenschläger. They had it renovated and gave him a new memorial stone. Whenever they could travel to the GDR, they visited their son’s grave. In 2013 – two years before his own death – Helmut Schmidt had a resting place: “Unfortunately, due to my age and health, I can no longer come to Schönow or to you in Bernau to arrange for my son’s grave.” Schmidt sent a driver who brought memorial stone to Hamburg.
It is now under a cherry tree in the garden – behind a private archive, and therefore outside the public figure that needs to be explored here.
Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt Foundation: At home with Loki and Helmut Schmidt: Chancellor’s House in Hamburg-Langenhorn. Book Verlag Edel, Hamburg, September 2020, 224 pages, 22 euros.