The minister of finance in Germany’s Hesse region, Thomas Schaefer, was found dead on Saturday after he took his own life, Deutsche Welle reported. The country’s financial capital Frankfurt is in Hesse region.
His body was found on the railway tracks between Frankfurt and another city, Mainz. According to the report, he left a note before he died by suicide. The contents of the letter have not been released.
State premier Volker Bouffier linked Schaefer’s death to worries about the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout. “His [Schaefer’s] main concern was whether he could manage to fulfil the huge expectations of the population, especially in terms of financial aid,” Bouffier said. “For him, there was clearly no way out. He was disappointed and so he had to leave us. That has shocked us, has shocked me.”
The 54-year-old minister was a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and had been a minister for almost a decade. Schaefer was also expected to be Bouffier’s successor.
Germany, like several other countries, has faced economic problems since the coronavirus outbreak started. Business morale in the country had its steepest decline in March since Germany’s reunification in 1990. The country is also in lockdown, leading to speculation about an impending recession. Germany’s economy could shrink by 20% this year, according to the Ifo Institute for Economic Research.
“It should not come as a surprise to anyone but economic data for March and beyond will be horrible and probably even beyond the traditional meaning of horrible,” Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany told CNBC. “Recession is not even the right word for an almost complete standstill of entire economies, almost overnight. Germany is no exception,” he said.
As of Sunday night, Germany has 58,247 cases of coronavirus and has lost 455 people to the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University.