*File picture of late Minister, Mr. Thomas Schaefer
Sad news from Germany has it that the Finance Minister of Germany’s Hesse State, Mr. Thomas Schaefer has committed suicide after becoming ‘deeply worried’ over how to cope with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The State Premier, Volker Bouffier made his death known to the public on Sunday. Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track on Saturday and was believed to have died of suicide, according to the Wiesbaden prosecution’s office.
“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all, we are immensely sad,” Bouffier said in a recorded statement. Hesse is home to Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, where major lenders like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have their headquarters. The European Central Bank is also located in Frankfurt. A visibly shaken Bouffier recalled that Schaefer, who was Hesse’s finance chief for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.
“Today we have to assume that he was deeply worried,” said Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel. “It’s precise during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him,” he added. Popular and well-respected, Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Bouffier. Like Bouffier, Schaefer belonged to Merkel’s centre-right CDU party. He left behind a wife and two children.