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Posted by on Jun 7, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments

Every Picture Tells a Story: Helmut Schmidt (German Chancellor)




One of the really cool things about living and working in Washington for many years was getting invites to social events, national celebrations, grand openings, speeches, embassy parties, and all those “insider” and “swampy” functions that everyone outside the Beltway despises. Every day and each night of the week, there were/are countless events that just about anyone could/can attend, that is, if you know about them. Virtually all of these events were free. Unless it was a fancy dinner, or someone really high up like the President was attending. organizers often hoped enough people would show up. There’s nothing more embarrassing for the seekers of power to be ignored. Empty rooms are a bad thing. The powerful people always want a full house, standing room only. So, as long as you carry yourself well, carry a conversation, and fit into the scene, these invites happened all the time.

When I lived in Washington for the first time (1985-86), I was awestruck by these social events and the people who attended. I think most newcomers to the political scene are starstruck. There’s nothing wrong with that — it’s natural. But the luster fades pretty quickly after a few parties and press conferences. Later, during my second Washington phase (1992-2002) these kinds of events become quite normal, then dull, then finally a burden. By the time I moved out of Washington for good, I never accepted invites or attended special functions unless they were “our” events (in other words, I was *paid* to be there). It just got old fast and more trouble than it was worth to dress up, make bogus conversation, and “network.” It’s one reason I still hate (but realize we need) nametags.

One big exception was when the German Embassy held a giant party in the mid-1990s. I went. I think it was a German holiday. The German Embassy was on Reservoir Road, and was modernesque building, but it was not along the usual Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue, which is where I worked.

Helmut Schmidt, the former Chancellor of Germany was in attendance at the party. That was a big deal to anyone with a grasp of European history and politics because Schmidt was such an important world figure and a great national leader. Even as an American with no roots to Germany, I remembered Helmut Schmidt from the 1970s and 1980s. In the post-war era, Germany has been blessed with several outstanding leaders — from Willy Brandt to Helmut Kohl to Angela Merkel. Helmut Schmidt was right there among the best. Just now, I looked it up and saw Schmidt died in 2015. But he had quite an amazing life and had much to do with the left-leaning Social Democratic Party dominating German politics for many years. one of the reasons that nation remains so prosperous to this day.

At the party, Helmut Schmidt signed some autographs and posed for lots of pictures. I was a low-level staffer with no real reason to be there other than curiosity. I wish I had gotten a photo with him, but he was very much in demand. However, I did get this signed photo from Helmut Schmidt, German Chancellor 1974-1982 and I think it’s pretty cool.

Gee. maybe I should have gone to more parties.


Note: We held a garage sale recently and I’m going through lots of stuff, including old photographs which I’ll be sharing in the coming days and weeks. My philosophy is — a photo does no good tucked away in an album or stored inside a box. A great photo should be shared, especially when it tells a story. Quoting Rod Stewart, “every picture tells a story (don’t it?).” This is Day 10 of the project.

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