Paul Helminger picture at the Luxembourg Science centre in 2017. News of the death of the former mayor of Luxembourg City was announced on 17 April.
Photo: Sebastien Goosens
Tributes have been paid over the weekend to the former city mayor, whose death was announced on Saturday.
Paul Helminger, who served as mayor of Luxembourg City from 1999 to 2011, has died at the age of 80. The news was announced via Twitter by his successor as mayor, prime minister Xavier Bettel, and the president of the DP party that Helminger represented, minister for family Corrine Cahen. Bettel praised Helminger as a devoted politician and, above all, “an affectionate family man who will be missed by many.”
Helminger was born in Esch-Alzette on 28 October 1940 but grew up in the capital city. A graduate of law from the Sorbonne in Paris, he also studied international relations and went on to study political science at Stanford University in the United States.
He entered the foreign service and served the grand duchy at various diplomatic representations abroad until DP prime minister Gaston Thorn appointed him as his cabinet chief in 1974. He was later made secretary of state for external relations under prime minister Pierre Werner in 1979.
Finance minister Pierre Gramegna added his condolences via Twitter, recalling that Helminger was his first boss as a young diplomat. “He taught me the art of making Luxembourg an open and investor friendly country as it still is today,” Gramegna said.
Helminger was elected to parliament in 1984 and three years later was elected to the Luxembourg City council, becoming an alderman in 1991. When then mayor Lydie Polfer was made deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the CSV-DP government following the June 1999 general elections, Helminger replaced her as mayor. He led the DP to local election success in October that year, and again in 2005 when he formed the first city coalition with the Green party.
In the 2011 local elections, the DP again was the strongest party on the council, but his party colleague Xavier Bettel gained 500 more personal votes than Helminger and took the reins as mayor. Helminger stepped down from politics and became chairman of the board at Luxair between 2012 and 2019 and was also the chairman of Cargolux up until his death.
Current city mayor Lydie Polfer said that during his 12-year tenure Helminger had displayed “strong and tireless dedication” to preparing Luxembourg for the challenges it would face in the future, and making it a strong, modern and booming European capital. “We have not only lost a politician who profoundly marked the destiny of the capital, but a faithful and warm friend,” Polfer added.