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30 November 2012

Klaus Schütz, Rest in Peace

Klaus Schütz, mayor of west-Berlin from 1967–1977 has passed away at the age of 86.
For four years, he was the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Israel. In 1981 he took over the directorship of the Deutsche Welle, and in 1988, he was appointed director of the National Institute of Broadcasting in North Rhine-Westphalia. After his retirement in 1992 Klaus Schütz returned to Berlin to take up journalistic tasks and activities as president of the Berlin State Association of the German Red Cross.
He was active in postwar coping and formation politics when being a democratic socialist still actually meant something, at least as far as human freedom was concerned:
1946 Klaus Schütz enrolled at Berlin's Humboldt University majoring in History and German Literature. He joined the Association of Social Democratic students in 1947 and belonged to the student council. Soon thereafter, he was a delegate to the National Committee of Young Socialists in Wilmersdorf (a neighborhood in west-Berlin) for the SPD. When, in June 1948, three students were expelled by the administration for plagiarism at Humboldt University (in the Soviet sector, and under suspicious motives) he along with other members of the student council took action and and moved to the Free University in the American sector. From 1949-50, he completed a political science postgraduate studies at Harvard University.
The years that he was in the Mayor’s office were relevant ones. A kind of détente was developing, and border crossings opened in earnest as a reliable fixture in the public’s lives, which relieved some of the hardship separated families endured. A political kinsman of Willy Brandt, he aided in the building of the fine political line between defiance to the DDR and Soviet policies, and an unavoidable need to engage with them. They were the years a kind of normality was developed in the life of West-Berlin, albeit one that eternally seemed temporary, even at the hands of DDR inspired western radicals who went so far as to kidnap his election opponent, and then make demands of him, not to mention the cruel practices of a totalitarian state.