A Farewell to Dr. Norbert Walter


Building a Smarter German-American Partnership

A tribute from AGI President Jack Janes:

AGI lost a close friend, a long time advisor, and an Alumnus last weekend. Norbert Walter left us in the blink of an eye but we will not lose sight of his memory and his legacy. As a fellow here at AGI in its early years, Norbert gave us his expertise in economic affairs, but he also gave us his clear-eyed assessment of Germany’s future, including the possibility of unification some day. While that came sooner than even Norbert expected, he then proceeded to help guide Germany through the challenges which came with that historical chance  for the country and for Europe.

Norbert was that generation of Germans who looked history in the face as well as the future. He reminded Germans of their responsibilities as well as their opportunities. He was not afraid to admonish as well as to encourage his fellow citizens. He believed in Germany and also in the Europe, which he saw as Germany’s future.  His last book was called: Europe: why our continent is worth fighting for.

Norbert loved a good argument and relished the opportunity to engage with friend and foe. He took on governments of all stripes, policymakers, journalists, even his own Church,  and his scholarly colleagues with enthusiasm and confidence that he could convince them all of his point of view. But as a devout Catholic, he never lost sight of the plight of the human temptation for pride.

Anyone who had spent time with Norbert and his family at home or in lecture halls could see the joy of a man who knew who he was: a husband, a father, a grandfather, a scholar, and a tireless advocate of clearing away the brush from the facts and the reality of policy challenges and choices. He reveled in all of these roles. He left us all richer for knowing him and for the high standards he set.

In lasting tribute to Norbert , we will continue to work hard to meet those standards.

A note on Dr. Walter from former AGI Director (1983-1995) Robert Gerald Livingston:

Norbert Walter was a longtime friend of AGI and of mine personally as well. His association with the Institute began a quarter century ago. His analytical insights into Germany’s and Europe’s economies brought fellow economists in Washington to the Institute’s sessions, helping establish and enhance its early reputation.  Always eager for clarifying discussion and exchanges, Norbert stimulated every session in which he participated. His studies and frequent trips to Washington contributed vitally in the 1980s and 1990s toward making AGI the go-to think tank for those concerned with German developments.

Spending time with Norbert and his family I always found worthwhile. No narrow academic economist he, his broad views on a range of political and cultural aspects of Germany and his sophisticatedly humorous observations on political figures there enlivened our many meetings. He will be greatly missed – an acute analyst, true friend, and great guy.

Dr. Norbert Walter’s obituary from Deutsche Bank Research