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2009: Helmut Schäfer

Fellows in Residence

Helmut Schäfer
former German State Minister of Foreign Affairs
September 30, 2009

Eagerly anticipating the fast-approaching twenty year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Helmut Schafer enthusiastically came to Furman in the Fall of 2010 to reconnect after his initial visit twenty five years prior. With a lifetime of experience in foreign affairs, Minister Schäfer delighted students and faculty alike with his real-world knowledge. In particular, his outsider perspective on President Obama’s foreign policy objectives was insightful and provided a platform for discussion.

Highlights of his visit to Furman 

  • Gave public address on "Germany and American Foreign Policy in the Age of Obama" on Wednesday, September 30, 2009, in Younts Conference Center
  • Had lunch and informal discussion with members of the Riley Institute Advance Team
  • Spoke to two classes on world politics
  • Enjoyed lunch and conversation with history majors
  • Was special guest at a reception and dinner with the Hollingsworth Scholars
  • Visited Caesar’s Head and Pisgah National Forest 

The Riley Institute at Furman welcomed Helmut Schäfer to Furman University on September 30, 2009. He delivered an address, "Germany and American Foreign Policy in the Obama Era" on Wednesday, September 30 at 7 p.m. in Shaw Hall, Melvin and Dollie Younts Conference Center.

About Helmut Schäfer

Born in Mainz, Germany, Minister Schäfer has been living in Berlin since 1995. Schäfer studied the German and English languages and literature, and American literature and history at the Universities of Mainz, Innsbruck (Austria), and in Dayton, Ohio. After his final academic examinations, he taught English and German at colleges in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

He has been a member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) since 1964. For many years, he was a member of the state and national executive boards of his party and chairman of the FDP national foreign affairs study group. In 1967, Schäfer was appointed as a civil servant to the State Ministry of Education. From 1977 until 1998, he was a member of the German Parliament (Bundestag) and from 1978 until 1987, he was an FDP spokesman in the Committee of Foreign Affairs. In 1987, he was appointed State Minister of Foreign Affairs for Germany. From 1990 until 1999, Schäfer was the Vice President of the International Group of Democratic and Liberal Parties. He also represented the German government in the Council of the European Union, the principle decision-making institute of the European Union. After his retirement, he spent several years lecturing about foreign politics at Humboldt University in Berlin.

Minister Schäfer is specially engaged in Central American, Middle Eastern, and Southern African conflicts. He has traveled all over the world to places including Europe, the US, the Soviet Union, almost all of Africa, Latin America and numerous Asian countries. While traveling, he has had contact with numerous heads of State and leading politicians, such as Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat, and Yitzhak Rabin. In addition to the General Secretaries of the United Nations, Minister Schäfer has also met with many American politicians, including Joe Biden, Richard Lugar and Lee Hamilton.