A trusted partner is gone – we mourn the loss of Daniel Haufler

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I remember the first time I was in touch with Daniel. In January 2022, I helped organize a fact- finding mission to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Youngstown, Ohio, to learn more about industrial and digital policy in the US. We reached out to Daniel and though he had never met us at FES before, he spontaneously agreed to come along. He said this was his first opportunity to travel outside of DC in his fairly new job as Labor Counselor at the German Embassy and he was excited to travel – even to a place like Youngstown in January.

From my first encounter, I saw in Daniel a quiet, thoughtful, and very analytical mind. I also sensed that he knew a lot more about the US and labor relations than he had revealed at first sight. Daniel was a good listener and his long journalistic career and training was apparent. Daniel affirmed my first impression in the other meetings we had together, mostly with trade union representatives from Germany. He was also a great participant in the many online meetings and discussions on US policy that marked the beginning of his time in DC.

I very much appreciated his analyses, his historical contextualization, and his desire to get the facts right without getting lost in them.

Our time together was much too short and I feel that I missed out on a deeper professional and personal connection with him. When I first heard that he was sick back in December 2022, I was not sure how to handle it.  I had a small voice within me telling me to give him a call. As a person of faith, I would say it was God’s small voice within me but whatever prompted me, I called his cell phone on Monday. A friendly female voice answered and I had a brief chat with a woman who was with him in the hospital. She said that Daniel was not doing well, could not speak but that she would convey that I called. The next morning, word reached us that Daniel had passed away.

My colleagues at FES and I are deeply saddened by Daniel’s sudden and untimely death. I will miss him, and I will remember the short walk we had together on this earth. I know that his legacy will live on in our work: Building a more just and equitable society – in the US and Germany.

Knut Panknin

FES Washington, DC / March 1, 2023



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