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article imageIf You've Got Something On Your Chest - Ask Me, Says German Chancellor's half-brother

By Iris Auding, dpa     Sep 11, 2000 in Technology
HAMBURG (dpa) - If you want to know how much the world's largest iceberg weighs or the best way to rustle up a Hungarian goulash just ask Lothar Vosseler, agony uncle and the half brother of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Lothar doesn't believe in living in the shadow of his political heavyweight relation and under www.lothar-vosseler.de, the 53-year- old is happy to answer allcomers. "If you've got something on your chest, just ask me," says Lothar.
"My name's Lothar Vosseler, born on April 15, 1947, married to Gisela Vosseler with a child and the chancellor's brother since September 1998. I'm used to giving advice and now I'm here for you too," writes Lothar.
"And has it changed anything for me? Not a jot. A lot of people tell me that if I was the brother of the head of government anywhere else in the world, I'd be either minister of state with special responsibilities, head of the central bank or president of the national league of rheumatic suffers. Not in Germany."
If Schroeder was embarassed by the prominent articles in German newspapers about his half-brother's activities he hasn't said so publicly. "When he was still state prime minister (of Lower Saxony) it was easier to keep in touch," said Vosseler. "He doesn't say anything negative about what I'm doing. Not that I ask him for advice. If we have any time we talk about private matters."
Vosseler's website is run by a Duesseldorf-based radio production company MB Produktionskontor GmbH and according to the firm, the homepage scored 36,468 hits in July alone. Vosseler received some 400 e-mails.
"It's gone down pretty well, better than we expected," said managing director Bodo Scheffels. "We've got silly stories about lottery numbers but we get a lot of general knowledge queries. Lothar has to start thumbing the dictionaries to answer those."
Most of the e-mails tend to focus on Lothar's relationship to Gerhard Schroeder. Some surfers want to know if the two have always got along well with each other and how Vosseler takes to Schroeder's wife Doris. Others are keen to know what Vosseler would do if he were chancellor and some ask why the chancellor's half-brother is not in the government.
Vosseler, the eldest of three children from the second marriage of Schroeder's mother Erika, lives in the unassuming central German city of Detmold. In 1995 the trained heating engineer lost his job as a computer programmer and since July 1999 he's been employed by a firm that inspects and cleans drains.
Lothar's website has few bells and whistles, just little slogans which flash up saying "the non cashmere brother" - a reference to Schroeder's penchant for expensive clothing or "Lothar Voessler - a wise head in a turbulent age." Vosseler appears on a regular radio show too and has a weekly column in a local Cologne newspaper.
"I don't get any money for all these activities. What I like about the Internet is that my friends and aquaintances can see what I'm up to," said Vosseler. "I also like helping people if I can. It's a chance to do something different from work and to get to know people."
The idea for Lothar's Internet presence came from the radio production company. "We see this as complementing the radio. There are many more opportunities for listeners to communicate, for example using emails," said Scheffels.
Lothar would not like to swap places with the chancellor though. "I'm interested in politics but I don't fancy being a politician. There's far too much stress, especially when I see all the things Gerhard has to do," he said. "I can also still go out for a drink without being recognised."
More about Schroeder, Chancellor, German, Website
 
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