Thomas Schaefer , German state minister reportedly kills himself as coronavirus hits economy
German state finance minister took his own life after expressing “despair” over how to handle the economic fallout from coronavirus, an official said.
The body of a man identified as Thomas Schäfer, the finance minister of the German state of Hesse, was found on a high-speed train line in the town of Hochheim between Frankfurt and Mainz, police confirmed Saturday.
The presence of a body on the tracks was first reported by witnesses to paramedics, who were unable to initially identify the remains due to the extent of the injuries.
Thomas Schaefer, who was the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse region, was found dead by suicide Saturday on railway tracks at Hochheim, which is near Frankfurt.
State governor Volker Bouffier said Sunday that the 54-year-old had become consumed with how to handle the coronavirus crisis sending the global markets into freefall.
He said Schaefer was particularly concerned about “whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help.”
“I have to assume that these worries overwhelmed him,” Bouffier said. “He apparently couldn’t find a way out. He was in despair and left us.”
The politician apparently left a note before taking his own life, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, citing sources close to the investigation. The note, according to the report, referenced Schäfer’s reasons for his apparent suicide.
Authorities investigating Schaefer’s death said questioning witnesses led them to conclude that he died by suicide.
Schaefer was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and had held his position for a decade.
Recession in Germany ‘inevitable,’ government advisers say
The German government’s economic advisers say a recession in the first half of 2020 is “unavoidable” due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the US extended coronavirus restrictions to April 30.
Germany’s coronavirus death toll increased by about 15%. The government said it does not foresee any loosening of the current restrictions in the near future. The Marburger Bund, the biggest doctors’ association in Europe, has called for a “massive expansion” of production of personal protective equipment including protective masks, glasses, coats and suits. Berlin is also set to open a new clinic by April or May, which could hold up to 1,000 coronavirus patients, according to Berlin health senator Dilek Kalayci.
The council of economic advisers said a recession in Germany in the first half of this year is “inevitable.” Experts estimate that output could shrink by up to 5.4% this year, while in the best-case scenario the gross domestic product (GDP) could drop 2.8%.
More than one in 10 medium-sized companies are threatened with bankruptcy due to the pandemic, according to the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The Institute for Economic Research has also said that over a quarter of German companies are expected to implement reduced working hours over the next three months. Latest figures: 62,435 infections, 541 deaths, 9, 211 recovered.
Schäfer leaves behind a wife and two children.
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