Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, born 18.9.1942 in Freiburg/Breigau, is known as a member of the German government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer of many years. He works not only on behalf of Germany but also of Europe.
He has been in a wheelchair since an attempt on his life. In his free time he likes to read a good book or goes on trips with his handbike. Schäuble is married and has four children together with his wife, Ingeborg. One of is favourite sayings is: If we want everything to stay as it is, then it’s necessary to change everything”.
Thank you very much, Dr. Schäuble, for taking the time for an interview, especially considering the oncoming elections. We appreciate it.
The office of Chancellor of the Exchequer is possibly not one of the highest on the popularity scale. You, Herr Schäuble, have managed, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to revitalize our budget. Which Euro, that you gave to spend, hurts the most? And which gives you pleasure?
I can’t say which single payment made by the treasury really hurt, most of them are justified. Of course, our political body spends money on things which would astound people in other countries or past generations, but that’s democracy. It’s my responsibility, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make sure that the money is spent as efficiently as possible. There is always room for improvement. With a view to the next generation, I’m happy that greater investments are being make for the future. We’ve raised investment funds in our political body this legislation period by 40%, and intend continuing to do so. Equally important for the young people is that we continually economize and don’t run up debts that the next generation will be burdened with.
As so often, pensions are an interesting subject. Some people are certainly dissatisfied with the amount of money they receive, although they are proud of their contribution to society and their country. Have the values and esteem changed between then and now?
Our pension system stems from a contract between generations. In my view, the esteem with which the work achievements of our pensioners, whose work has brought about the present prosperity in Germany, is constantly high. It is clearly recognizable that nobody really doubts the seriousness of the solidarity based pension system between the generations.
Barrierefrei isn’t a magazine like any other. We give a voice to everyone with a disability. Our creed is to give people courage. We manage that by introducing personalities and thus showing, through authenticity, what can be achieved despite disability. After all it shouldn’t make any difference. Do you believe in the successful inclusion in our society, or is that more of an illusion?
The aim of our politics is that every person in Germany is able to participate in social life, according to their possibilities. My impression is that there is a wide consensus within the population. The state should function as a role model. I can only say that federal government does its best but there is sure to be room for improvement. Most importantly, in the wider sense of a “barrier-free” Germany, most of society must work towards this aim, as well as politics.
If you could change social structures, which would be you first concern?
All in all, we can be proud of our social structures. When I think of all the voluntary workers in Germany, the many clubs and societies – whether sport or culture – or of the many politically active people in the communal levels, I’m not afraid for the future. More attention should be paid to the subject of equal opportunities: How do we make sure that children from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds have the same chances of success?
Our readers are bound to be interested how Herr Schäuble spends his free time, outside of politics. How do you tank energy?
I read a lot, mostly historical books and biographies, but novels, too. My wife and I like going to concerts, to the opera or to the theatre – Berlin always has cultural attractions on offer. And when I have more time and weather permitting, in the summer or at the weekend, I go for trips with my handbike.
You don’t seem to know any disability, or hindrance. You look for new ways to achieve your goals. What is your life’s motto?
Naturally, I want to achieve my aims and, as a minister, it’s easier for me than for others in a less privileged position but one thing is also important: I’m sure you know the old films with Don Camillo, the village priest, and Peppone, the communist mayor. When, once again, Camillo is very angry about Peppone and he complains to Christ on the cross, Jesus answers: “Oh, Camillo, don’t think you’re so important”. I find that very sound advice. You can live better if you don’t always focus on yourself.
Thank you very much for the interview
Interview: Peter Lang
Photos: The Federal Ministry of Finance