The body of Thomas Schäfer - finance minister of the German state of Hesse, was found next to high-speed train tracks on Saturday morning in the town of Hochheim, located between Frankfurt and Mainz, according to DW, citing local police.
The remains of Schäfer, 54, were initially unable to be identified due to the extent of the injuries after witnesses reported the body. His death has been ruled a suicide by police.
According to media in the state of Hesse, the 54-year-old regularly appeared in public in recent days, for example, to inform the public about financial assistance during the coronavirus crisis. Schäfer had been finance minister of Hesse for almost 10 years
The state premier of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, said in a statement Saturday that the state's leadership has received the news with "sadness and disbelief." -DW
"We are all shocked and can hardly believe," he died "so suddenly and unexpectedly" said Bouffier, adding "Our sincere condolences go to his closest relatives."
On Thursday, "Schäfer, together with Economics Minister Tarek Al-Wazir (Greens), explained how the government wants to support the more than 200,000 small entrepreneurs and solo self-employed in the country who fear for their existence due to the corona pandemic," according to WELT.
A bailout of 8.5 billion euros is opened and the debt brake, which Schäfer had always defended, is relaxed.The Mittelhesse from Biedenkopf near Marburg was very worried, that was obvious.The country and the whole world were facing “unforeseen challenges,” he said, and that tackling this “task of the century” would take several generations.
But he also tried to relieve fears: The country would help quickly and unbureaucratically, Schäfer promised.“The fight against the corona crisis will not fail with money.” -WELT (translated)
He leaves behind a wife, a nine-year-old son and a twelve-year-old daughter.
Schäfer isn't the only high-profile German to meet his end on train tracks.
In 2009, 74-year-old billionaire Adolf Merckle committed suicide after pushing his business empire to the edge of ruin with a speculative bet on Volkswagen stock that went wrong. He was found dead on railroad tracks near his villa in the southern German hamlet of Blaubeuren.
Merckle lost hundreds of millions of euros after he was "caught in a brief but ferocious speculative riptide linked to a campaign by Porsche, the sports car manufacturer, to seize control of Volkswagen," reported the New York Times at the time. As a result, he was facing a massive liquidation of his empire to cover the bad bet.