This Spiegel cover from September 20, 1982, depicting Helmut Schmidt as the outgoing “pilot,” was a reference to John Tenniel’s famous caricature “Dropping the Pilot,” which depicted Bismarck’s resignation in 1890. With this image choice, the Spiegel editors alluded to the fact that neither chancellor departed his office voluntarily. On September 9, 1982, Minister of Economics Otto Graf Lambsdorff (FDP) had announced his “concept for policies to overcome weak growth and to fight unemployment.” The concept, which demanded social welfare cuts and tax breaks for businesses, further accelerated the growing alienation between the SPD and the FDP and for this reason was dubbed the coalition’s “divorce papers.” On September 17, 1982, all FDP ministers resigned, thus forestalling their removal by Chancellor Schmidt, who led a minority government until the constructive vote of no confidence on October 1, 1982.

“Dropping the Pilot” (September 20, 1982)


Source: “Dropping the Pilot,” Der Spiegel, no. 38, September 20, 1982. Available online at: https://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/index-1982-38.html

© Der Spiegel. Republished with permission.