German state finance minister ‘kills himself’ as officials claim he was in despair over the coronavirus crisis
- Thomas Schaefer, 54, found dead on railway tracks at Hochhein, near Frankfurt
- Authorities claimed the state finance minister appeared to have killed himself
- State governor Volker Bouffier suggested he was ‘in despair’ over coronavirus
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A German state finance minister has been found dead in an apparent suicide which has been linked to the coronavirus crisis, officials said today.
Thomas Schaefer, 54, minister for the Hesse region, was found dead on railway tracks at Hochhein, near Frankfurt, on Saturday.
Authorities said the married father-of-two appeared to have killed himself, with state governor Volker Bouffier suggesting on Sunday he was in despair over the coronavirus crisis.
Thomas Schaefer, 54, finance minister for the Hesse region, was found dead on railway tracks at Hochhein, near Frankfurt, on Saturday
Police and prosectors said witness statements and observations at the scene had led them to believe the minister, who was a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, had killed himself.
State governor Volker Bouffier linked Schaefer’s death to the virus crisis on Sunday.
‘We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad,’ Bouffier said in a recorded statement.
A visibly shaken Bouffier said Schaefer had been working ‘day and night’ to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.
Bouffier added that Mr Schaefer was worried about ‘whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help’ amid the coronavirus crisis.
‘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.’
Empty streets near Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin yesterday as the nation battles coronavirus
Thomas Schaefer was in the same CDU party as Angela Merkel, pictured. The chancellor has been working from home but has tested negative for coronavirus
Popular and well-respected, Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Bouffier.
Schaefer had been Hesse’s state finance minister for a decade. He married in 2004 and his two children are aged nine and 12.
The CDU’s outgoing leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Schaefer’s death was a ‘shock’ to everyone in the party.
‘This news leaves us sad and bewildered. All our thoughts and prayers are with his family,’ she said.
Germany’s federal and state governments have drawn up huge aid packages to cushion the blow of the economic standstill.
Merkel herself has been working from home after coming into contact with an infected doctor, although the chancellor herself has tested negative.
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