West Germany: Skirmishes over the Nuclear Issue

Schmidt wins a battle, but not the war, against his party's left

The setting seemed strangely antiseptic for an occasion so potentially fraught with drama. For its first national congress in more than two years, West Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party (S.P.D.) had gathered in a cavernous 15,000-seat sports arena built for the 1972 Olympics in Munich. As Chancellor Helmut Schmidt addressed the 440 party delegates and the 1,000 observers present at the event, he faced a sea of unoccupied seats, and his voice echoed through the near empty hall, so distorted by bad acoustics that many in his audience...

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