On February 22, 2020 our colleague and friend Prof. em. Dr. sc. pol. Wolf Schäfer died unexpectedly after short but grave illness at the age of 78 years among his family in Kiel. The news of his sudden passing shocked us. Only a few months before, we had experienced his impressive vitality, creative power and joy of life. Wolf Schäfer held the professorship for Theoretical Economics at the Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg from 1981 to 2006 and developed close ties to the Europa-Kolleg Hamburg during this time. In 1999 he was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Foundation. In 2003 he moved to the Board of Directors of the Institute for European Integration, of which he remained a member until his death and whose work he helped to shape in research, teaching and public relations.
Wolf Schäfer was born on 14 July 1941 in Hamburg. From 1963 to 1968, he studied economics at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel and the Free University of Berlin. He then became a research associate at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel) and a research assistant at the Institute for Theoretical Economics at the CAU. Here he received his doctorate in 1970 under the former President of the IfW Kiel, Erich Schneider, on the “Euro-Dollar”. Here he was habilitated in 1977 with a work on shadow exchange rates. After various academic positions in Germany and abroad, he was appointed to the HSU Hamburg in 1981, where he served as Vice President from 2003 to 2005.
The “Kiel School” through which Wolf Schäfer progressed has allowed him to mature into a strong regulatory thinker and committed liberal fighter in the tradition of Friedrich August von Hayek. He loved the theoretical game of foil as much as he loved the practice-oriented economic arena in which his voice carried great weight. This made him a valued conversational partner, consultant and popular academic teacher. His “feud” against the, in his opinion, premature introduction of the Euro under the conditions laid down in the Maastricht Treaty and under realpolitik circumstances, enriched the research and teaching programme of the Europa-Kolleg for years and provided permanent discussion material. Unforgotten are also the three “Hayek Conferences”, which were held on his initiative as the skilfully acting chairman (and later honorary chairman) of the Friedrich A. von Hayek Society in cooperation with the Europa-Kolleg Hamburg and the University of Hamburg in the last week of June of the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 in our premises on Windmühlenweg.
With the sudden death of Wolf Schäfer, we are not only losing an excellent scientist, bridge builder and promoter of interdisciplinary and international dialogue. We are also losing a kind person, who embraced the beautiful sides of life and for whom personal contact with colleagues, friends, students and companions meant a lot. We will miss Wolf Schäfer very much.
Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife, three children and the entire family.