He was a tough standing man. You had to be that too, if you worked as a minister under Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017) for 16 years, then undreamed-of qualities as a recipient develop. Norbert Blüm had the humor that was needed for this as well. Now, the “hype boxer of politics”, as he saw himself at times, died at 84, as his son Christian Blüm (54) said. Another less, for whom politics was more a question of decency than success.

Most recently, Norbert Blüm had to go through a difficult time. In 2019, he fell into a coma after sepsis (blood poisoning). When he woke up, he couldn’t move his arms or legs. It was not until the beginning of March 2023 that the paralyzed politician was released home after spending several months in the hospital.

In a shocking article for the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”, which he had dictated to his wife Marita, Blüm insisted on his condition: “I am still not taking the judgment as seriously as I should, because my attitude towards life does not accept it Duration of being paralyzed. But facts don’t take that into account. I feel uneasy about the coming times when I have to see the full extent of the dilemma. ”

He feels “like a puppet that they have pulled the strings so that their parts dangle in the air incoherently”. The paralysis changes “the proportions. Trifles become problematic. An itch just irritates me under the left eye. In the past I would have removed the itching with a hand stroke. My hand can’t do it today. And so I have to wait patiently until the stimulus ceases ”.

Even this last written communication from Norbert Blüm reveals his intellectual handwriting, his gift for precise observation, with which he reduces his paralysis to a problem with itching under the eye. It also has something to do with Blüm’s humor: Although the topic is so serious, you want to smile involuntarily at the idea of how the witty and witty Herr Blüm wants to scratch his eye, but can’t …

The fact that Norbert Blüm was able to present problems much more clearly than almost any other politician is also due to the fact that he knew real life much better. He did not have an elite career behind him, but instead began his toolmaking apprenticeship at Opel in his south Hessian hometown of Rüsselsheim in 1949 after completing his elementary school. He worked on the workbench until 1957.

His social and political rise was an arduous path through the evening high school and the subsequent study of philosophy, German studies, history and theology, which he with the Dr. phil graduated. The devout Catholic joined the CDU at the age of 15, where he represented the more left-wing positions of the Christian Democratic Workers (CDA). Before his sponsor Helmut Kohl called him to his cabinet in 1982, Blüm made a name for himself in the social committees of the CDU and (from 1972) in the Bundestag.

Cabbage and flowers became something like plisch and plum from the 80s and 90s. Its visual appearance alone was like a political cartoon of the brand “Picture without Words”. The body-powerful Chancellor (1.93 m) with the strained facial expressions of the important, next to, that is, under, his Minister of Labor and Social Order (1.64 m), who looked as if he had to break out into a loud laugh at any moment.

They ruled together for 16 years, the upper and lower. Loyalty knew only one direction: from bottom to top. When Blüm trumpeted his constant motto – “The pension is safe!” – like a mantra, Kohl smiled graciously. But when Blüm fearlessly attacked the Chile dictator Pinochet and saved 16 death row inmates, Kohl remained silent, even when CSU boss Franz Josef Strauß ridiculed that Norbert was a “Herz-Jesu socialist” who stood up for “criminals” and Use “communists”.

At some point it was over with the Kohl-Blüm team. When the former squire Blüm took the view at the CDU donation affair in 1999 that ex-Chancellor Kohl also had to resign from his position as honorary CDU chairman, the end was funny. Never spoke again Kohl a word with Dr. Flower. A separation that Kohl documented like an evil old man with icy contempt and Blüm with rather slightly amused amazement.

His retirement as a political pensioner was so much funnier. While Kohl struggled with his political successor and his sons until the end of his life, Blüm followed his nature and gave the moral entertainer. He was not only a member of the TV advice team for “What am I?”, But also wrote books with the “Insights of a Left Conservative”, made child labor for the Prague artist, went on tour with the actor Peter Sodann, and was committed to Slave workers in Qatar, …

Five years ago, the “Spiegel” visited the pensioner Norbert Blüm in his house in Bonn and described his everyday life. The ex-minister preferred to sit at his desk with his old phone book and call friends and former colleagues, according to the motto: “No, I don’t want anything specific. I’m just sitting here in the rocking chair, hot water bottle on my feet, turned on my hearing aid and wanted to call through. ”

He greets an interlocutor with: “Is there the headquarters for socialist mental testing and brain softening? Hömma, I put you out loud, I just want to tell you, the ‘mirror’ is listening too. ”- All assholes,” answers Oskar Lafontaine. After all questions about left, right, pension and Sigmar Gabriel are ticked off, Blüm says goodbye: “Anyway, greet your old, I mean your new. You have a new one. ”Lafontaine replies:“ You can say Sahra. ”

He also calls Munich. “Hello, Blüm here, could I speak to Prime Minister Seehofer?” – “I’m sorry, Mr. Blüm, the Prime Minister is on vacation, can I do something?” – “If he feels like it, he should call me .” – “With pleasure. Do you have a special topic? “-” Yeah, the weather would be nice. ”

After all, he has a good friend, Bernhard Jagoda, the former head of the Federal Employment Agency. He was in a coma for a year after blood poisoning, and Blüm speaks on the phone: “What are you doing, blood poisoning, our age, you don’t do that.”


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