Germany has lost one of its most influential journalists and public intellectuals with the sudden death of Frank Schirrmacher. The 54-year-old, who died yesterday of a heart attack, succeeded critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki as the Frankfurter Allgemeine's literary editor in 1989. In 1994 he was appointed a co-editor responsible for the influential daily's culture pages. For two decades his Feuilleton section earned a reputation as a liberal counterweight to the more conservative leanings of the FAZ news and business sections.
Mr Schirrmacher, like few others in Germany, sparked and steered public debate – most recently commissioning lively essays on the consequences of the Snowden/NSA revelations and the rising power of Google. The consequences of the digital era had preoccupied him for some years and, in his 2009 bestseller Payback, he warned of far- reaching consequences of information overload on society and the human brain.
President Joachim Gauck praised Mr Schirrmacher as a "voice of sense". "[He] was both an alert and eloquent observer and shaper of the cultural and societal life," he said. Social Democratic Party leader Sigmar Gabriel said "Germany has lost a great ... intellectual. And I have lost a friend."