Ex-chancellor Schmidt stuns Germans admitting extra-marital affair

Wed Mar 4, 2015 11:47am EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, a personification of probity for many Germans, has admitted at the age of 96 that he had an extra-marital affair many decades ago.

Schmidt, who ruled during a turbulent era from 1974 to 1982, said in a new book that his wife Loki offered to step aside for his mistress, but he turned down that option.

His confession was a stunning relegation considering he often publicly professed his love for his wife, who was a popular botanist and author. She died in 2010 at 91 after 68 years of marriage.

"I had a relationship with another woman," Schmidt is quoted saying in Stern magazine in excerpts from his new book "Was ich noch sagen wollte" (What I still wanted to say). Schmidt did not reveal many details about the affair other than to say:

"It was in the late '60s or early '70s that Loki offered to separate over it," he said, adding he was flabbergasted by her suggestion they break apart so he could be with the other woman.

"There's no way I can leave you," he said he told his wife. "That's a completely absurd idea."

Schmidt said he stayed in contact with the other woman and attended her funeral two years ago.

Schmidt took power after his Social Democrat (SPD) ally Willy Brandt was forced to resign as chancellor when a close aide was unmasked as an East German spy.   Continued...

The former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt gestures during his speech at his birthday party, organized by German weekly magazine "Die Zeit", in a theater in Hamburg, January 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer