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Hans-Dietrich Genscher - The Man and his Work

Former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher dies, aged 89. He was a politician who shaped Germany, and a statesman who contributed to unification. As a foreign minister, he was respected worldwide.

Humor, sociability and real entertainment value were just as much part of him as his big ears and trademark yellow sweater. In 1974, the Free Democrats’ chairman Hans-Dietrich Genscher became Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, two offices he held for a total of 18 years. He clocked up four million air miles on nearly 900 foreign missions. But his greatest hour came during the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989/90: On 30 September 1989, Genscher was able to announce that the 5,000 East German citizens who had taken refuge in the West German embassy in Prague would be allowed to leave Czechoslovakia. Genscher may have left the political stage in 1992 but he did not withdraw from public life entirely. As honorary chairman of the FDP, he remained committed to his party, although he was not uncritical of its new leaders.

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