Helmut Kohl
Overview
 
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl (ˈhɛlmuːt ˈkoːl; born 3 April 1930) is a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 (of West Germany between 1982 and 1990 and of the reunited Germany between 1990 and 1998) and the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1973 to 1998. His 16-year tenure was the longest of any German chancellor since Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 and oversaw the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and the German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

.
Quotations

Entscheidend ist, was hinten rauskommt.

Translation: The crucial thing is what comes out at the end.

Die jungen Leute in Deutschland haben kein Problem mit dem Judentum. Ich gehe ja auch manchmal mit meinen beiden Jungs über den jüdischen Friedhof in Oggersheim.

Translation: The young people of Germany have no problem with Judaism. Me too, with my two sons sometimes walk across the Jewish cemetery in Oggersheim.

Die neue Armut ist eine Erfindung des sozialistischen Jet-sets

Translation: The new poverty is an invention of the socialist Jet-set.

Das ist eine klassische journalistische Behauptung. Sie ist zwar richtig, aber sie ist nicht die Wahrheit.

Translation: This is a typical journalistic statement: It is correct, but it is not the truth.

Erträge und Kosten müssen im richtigen Verhältnis zueinander stehen.

Translation: Revenue and cost have to be in the right relation to each other.

Von deutschem Boden muss in Zukunft immer Frieden ausgehen.

Translation: In all future, only peace may come from German soil.

Eine erfolgreiche Industrienation, das heißt eine Nation mit Zukunft, lässt sich nicht als kollektiver Freizeitpark organisieren.

Translation: A successful industrial nation, meaning a nation with future, can not be organized as a collective holiday resort.

Die Existenzgrundlage unseres Landes geht kaputt, wenn erst die Schleusen für die Ausländer geöffnet sind.

Translation: The means of existence of our country will break down, once the watergates are open to the foreigners.

Wir werden die Arbeitslosigkeit und die Zahl der in Deutschland lebenden Ausländer um die Hälfte reduzieren.

Translation: We will cut in half unemployment and the number of foreigners living in Germany.

Encyclopedia
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl (ˈhɛlmuːt ˈkoːl; born 3 April 1930) is a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 (of West Germany between 1982 and 1990 and of the reunited Germany between 1990 and 1998) and the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1973 to 1998. His 16-year tenure was the longest of any German chancellor since Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 and oversaw the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and the German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

. Kohl is widely regarded as one of the main architects of the German reunification and, together with French President François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

, the Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty...

, which created the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

Kohl and Mitterrand were the joint recipients of the Karlspreis
Karlspreis
- See also :*Charlemagne*European integration*Leipzig Human Rights Award, originally called the "Alternative Charlemagne Award", formed in opposition to Clinton's recognition with the award- External links :* http://www.karlspreis.de/ *...

 in 1988. In 1998, Kohl was named Honorary Citizen of Europe
Honorary Citizen of Europe
Honorary Citizen of Europe is an honour bestowed by the European heads of state or government, for extraordinary work to promote European cooperation. So far, it has only been bestowed on two people: Jean Monnet and Helmut Kohl ....

 by the European heads of state or government
European Council
The European Council is an institution of the European Union. It comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states, along with the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council, currently Herman Van Rompuy...

 for his extraordinary work for European integration and cooperation, an honour previously only bestowed on Jean Monnet
Jean Monnet
Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet was a French political economist and diplomat. He is regarded by many as a chief architect of European Unity and is regarded as one of its founding fathers...

. In 1996, he won the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award in International Cooperation.

Kohl has been described as "the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century" by former U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 and Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

.

Youth

Kohl was born in Ludwigshafen am Rhein
Ludwigshafen am Rhein
Ludwigshafen am Rhein is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Ludwigshafen is located on the Rhine opposite Mannheim. Together with Mannheim, Heidelberg and the surrounding region, it forms the Rhine Neckar Area....

 (at the time part of Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, now in Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

) Germany
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

, the third child of Cäcilie (née Schnur; 1890–1979) and her husband Hans Kohl (1887–1975), a civil servant. His family was conservative and Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and remained loyal to the Catholic Centre Party before and after 1933. His older brother died in the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 as a teenage soldier. In the last weeks of the war, Kohl was also drafted, but he was not involved in any combat.

Kohl attended the Ruprecht elementary school, and continued at the Max-Planck-Gymnasium. In 1946, he joined the recently founded CDU
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

. In 1947, he was one of the co-founders of the Junge Union
Junge Union
The Junge Union Deutschlands or JU is the jointyouth organisation of the two conservative German political parties CDU and CSU...

-branch in Ludwigshafen. After graduating in 1950, he began to study law in Frankfurt am Main. In 1951, he switched to the University of Heidelberg where he majored in History
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 and Political Science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

. In 1953, he joined the board of the Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

 branch of the CDU. In 1954, he became vice-chair of the Junge Union in Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

. In 1955, he returned to the board of the Rhineland-Palatinate branch of the CDU.

Life before politics

After graduating in 1956 he became fellow at the Alfred Weber Institute of the University of Heidelberg where he was an active member of the student society AIESEC
AIESEC
AIESEC is a global youth organisation that develops leadership capabilities through their internal leadership programmes and engaging students and graduates in international student exchange and internship programmes for profit and non-profit organisations. Its international office is in...

. In 1958, he received his doctorate degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 for his thesis "The Political Developments in the Palatinate and the Reconstruction of Political Parties after 1945". After that, he entered business, first as an assistant to the director of a foundry in Ludwigshafen and, in 1959, as a manager for the Industrial Union for Chemistry in Ludwigshafen. In this year, he also became chair of the Ludwigshafen branch of the CDU. In the following year, he married Hannelore Renner
Hannelore Kohl
Hannelore Kohl was the wife of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. She met him for the first time at a prom in Ludwigshafen, Germany, when she was 15 years old....

, whom he had known since 1948, and they had two sons.

Early political career

In 1960, he was elected into the municipal council of Ludwigshafen where he served as leader of the CDU party until 1969. In 1963, he was also elected into the Landtag
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 of Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

 and served as leader of the CDU party in that legislature. From 1966 until 1973, he served as the chair of the CDU, and he was also a member of the Federal CDU board. After his election as party-chair, he was named as the successor to Peter Altmeier, who was minister-president of Rhineland-Palatinate at the time. However, after the Landtag-election which followed, Altmeier remained minister-president.

Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate

On 19 May 1969, Kohl was elected minister-president of Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

, as the successor to Peter Altmeier
Peter Altmeier
Peter Altmeier was a German politician . From 1947 to 1969 he was the Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate. He was born in Saarbrücken and died in Koblenz. He was the longest governing German Ministers-Presidents in one single state - longest at all was Bernhard Vogel.- External links :* * *...

. During his term as minister-president, Kohl founded the University of Trier-Kaiserslautern
University of Kaiserslautern
The University of Kaiserslautern is a university in Kaiserslautern, Germany. It was founded in 1970 and is organized into 12 faculties.-History:...

 and enacted territorial reform. Also in 1969, Kohl became the vice-chair of the federal CDU party.

In 1971, he was a candidate to become chairman of the federal CDU, but was not elected. Rainer Barzel remained in the position instead. In 1972, Barzel attempted to force a cabinet crisis in the SPD
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

/FDP government, which failed, leading him to step down. In 1973, Kohl succeeded him as federal chairman; he retained this position until 1998.

The 1976 Bundestag election

In the 1976 federal election
German federal election, 1976
The 8th German federal election, 1976, was conducted on 3 October 1976, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany.-Issues and Campaign:...

, Kohl was the CDU/CSU's candidate for chancellor. The CDU/CSU coalition performed very well, winning 48.6% of the vote. However they were kept out of government by the centre-left cabinet formed by the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 and Free Democratic Party (Germany)
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

, led by Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt is a German Social Democratic politician who served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982. Prior to becoming chancellor, he had served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance. He had also served briefly as Minister of Economics and as acting...

. Kohl then retired as minister-president of Rhineland-Palatinate to become the leader of the CDU/CSU in the Bundestag
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

. He was succeeded by Bernhard Vogel.

Leader of the opposition

In the 1980 federal elections
German federal election, 1980
The 9th German federal election, 1980, was conducted on 5 October 1980, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany.-Issues and Campaign:...

, Kohl had to play second fiddle, when CSU-leader Franz Josef Strauß
Franz Josef Strauß
Franz Josef Strauss was a German politician. He was the leader of the Christian Social Union, member of the federal cabinet in different positions and long-time minister-president of the state of Bavaria....

 became the CDU/CSU's candidate for chancellor. Strauß was also unable to defeat the SPD/FDP alliance. Unlike Kohl, Strauß did not want to continue as the leader of the CDU/CSU and remained Minister-President of Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

. Kohl remained as leader of the opposition, under the third Schmidt cabinet (1980–82).

On 17 September 1982, a conflict of economic policy occurred between the governing SPD/FDP coalition partners. The FDP wanted to radically liberalise the labour market, while the SPD preferred to guarantee the employment of those who already had jobs. The FDP began talks with the CDU/CSU to form a new government.

Rise to power

On 1 October 1982, the CDU proposed a constructive vote of no confidence
Constructive vote of no confidence
The constructive vote of no confidence is a variation on the motion of no confidence which allows a parliament to withdraw confidence from a head of government only if there is a positive majority for a prospective successor...

 which was supported by the FDP. The motion carried, and, on 4 October, the Bundestag voted in a new CDU/CSU-FDP coalition cabinet
Cabinet Kohl I
The first cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on October 4, 1982 and took power on March 29, 1983.The cabinet was the first cabinet to be formed after a constructive vote of no confidence...

, with Kohl as the chancellor. Many of the important details of the new coalition had been hammered out on 20 September, though minor details were reportedly still being hammered out as the vote took place.

Though Kohl's election was done according to the Basic Law
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

, some voices criticized the move as the FDP had fought its 1980 campaign on the side of the SPD and even placed Chancellor Schmidt on some of their campaign posters. Some voices went as far as denying that the new government had the support of a majority of the people. To answer this question, the new government aimed at new elections at the earliest possible date.

Since the Basic Law is restrictive on the dissolution of parliament, Kohl had to take another controversial move: he called for a confidence vote only a month after being sworn in, in which members of his coalition abstained. The ostensibly negative result for Kohl then allowed
President
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

 Karl Carstens
Karl Carstens
Karl Carstens was a German politician. He served as President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1979 to 1984.-Biography:...

 to dissolve the Bundestag in January 1983.

The move was controversial as the coalition parties denied their votes to the same man they had elected Chancellor a month before and whom they wanted to re-elect after the parliamentary election. However, this step was condoned by the German Federal Constitutional Court
Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
The Federal Constitutional Court is a special court established by the Grundgesetz, the German basic law...

 as a legal instrument and was again applied (by SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 and his Green
Alliance '90/The Greens
Alliance '90/The Greens is a green political party in Germany, formed from the merger of the German Green Party and Alliance 90 in 1993. Its leaders are Claudia Roth and Cem Özdemir...

 allies) in 2005.

The second cabinet

In the federal elections of March 1983
German federal election, 1983
The tenth German federal election was conducted on March 6, 1983, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany.-Issues and campaign:...

, Kohl won a smashing victory. The CDU/CSU won 48.8%, while the FDP won 7.0%. Some opposition members of the Bundestag asked the Federal constitutional court
Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
The Federal Constitutional Court is a special court established by the Grundgesetz, the German basic law...

 to declare the whole proceedings unconstitutional. It denied their claim.

The second Kohl cabinet
Cabinet Kohl II
The second cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on March 29, 1983 and laid down its function on March 11, 1987. The cabinet was formed after the 1983 elections...

 pushed through several controversial plans, including the stationing of NATO midrange missiles, against major opposition from the peace movement.

On 24 January 1984, Kohl spoke before the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

, as the first Chancellor of the post-war generation. In his speech, he used Günter Gaus' famous sentence, that he had "the mercy of a late birth".

On 22 September 1984 Kohl met the French president François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

 at Verdun
Verdun
Verdun is a city in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Verdun is the biggest city in Meuse, although the capital of the department is the slightly smaller city of Bar-le-Duc.- History :...

, where the Battle of Verdun
Battle of Verdun
The Battle of Verdun was one of the major battles during the First World War on the Western Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France...

 between France and Germany had taken place during
World War I. Together, they commemorated the deaths of both World Wars. The photograph, which depicted their minutes long handshake became an important symbol of French-German reconciliation. Kohl and Mitterrand developed a close political relationship, forming an important motor for European integration
European integration
European integration is the process of industrial, political, legal, economic integration of states wholly or partially in Europe...

. Together, they laid the foundations for European projects, like Eurocorps
Eurocorps
Eurocorps is a multinational standing army corps available for the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance.Headquartered in Strasbourg, France, the force was created in May 1992, activated in October 1993 and declared operational in 1995....

 and Arte
Arte
Arte is a Franco-German TV network. It is a European culture channel and aims to promote quality programming especially in areas of culture and the arts...

. This French-German cooperation also was vital for important European projects, like the Treaty of Maastricht and the Euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

.

In 1985, Kohl and US President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

, as part of a plan to observe the 40th anniversary of V-E Day, saw an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the friendship that existed between Germany and its former foe. During a November 1984 visit to the White House, Kohl appealed to Reagan to join him in symbolizing the reconciliation of their two countries at a German military cemetery. As Reagan visited Germany as part of the G6
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

 conference in Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

, the pair visited Bergen-Belsen
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
Bergen-Belsen was a Nazi concentration camp in Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle...

 concentration camp on 5 May, and more controversially the German military cemetery in Bitburg
Bitburg
Bitburg It is situated approx. 25 km north-west of Trier, and 50 km north-east of Luxembourg . One American airbase, Spangdahlem Air Base, is located nearby.-History:...

, discovered to hold 49 members of the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

 buried there.

In 1986, more controversy was caused by an essay published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , short F.A.Z., also known as the FAZ, is a national German newspaper, founded in 1949. It is published daily in Frankfurt am Main. The Sunday edition is the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung .F.A.Z...

on 25 April 1986 entitled "Land Without A History" written by one of Kohl's advisors, the historian Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer is a right-wing German historian best known for his role in the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, for his geographical interpretation of German history and for an admiring 2008 biography of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin .Born in Kassel, Germany, Stürmer received his education in...

, in which Stürmer argued that West Germany lacked a history to be proud of, and called for effort on the part of the government, historians and the media to build national pride in German history. Though Stürmer insisted that he was writing on behalf of himself and not in an official capacity as the Chancellor's advisor, many left-wing intellectuals claimed that Stürmer's essay also expressed Kohl's views.

The third cabinet

After the federal elections of 1987
German federal election, 1987
The 11th German federal election, 1987 was conducted on 25 January 1987, to elect members to the Bundestag, the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany.-Issues and Campaign:Johannes Rau, vice chairman of SPD, tried to become Chancellor...

 Kohl won a slightly reduced majority and formed his third cabinet
Cabinet Kohl III
The third cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on March 12, 1987. The cabinet was formed after the 1987 elections. It laid down its function on January 17, 1991 after the formation of the Cabinet Kohl IV, which was formed following the 1990 elections...

. The SPD's candidate for chancellor was the Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

, Johannes Rau
Johannes Rau
Johannes Rau was a German politician of the SPD. He was President of Germany from 1 July 1999 until 30 June 2004, and Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia from 1978 to 1998.-Education and work:...

.

In 1987, Kohl received East German leader Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker was a German communist politician who led the German Democratic Republic as General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1971 until 1989, serving as Head of State as well from Willi Stoph's relinquishment of that post in 1976....

 - the first ever visit by an East German head of state to West Germany. This is generally seen as a sign that Kohl pursued Ostpolitik
Ostpolitik
Neue Ostpolitik , or Ostpolitik for short, refers to the normalization of relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Eastern Europe, particularly the German Democratic Republic beginning in 1969...

, a policy of détente
Détente
Détente is the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation. The term is often used in reference to the general easing of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1970s, a thawing at a period roughly in the middle of the Cold War...

 between East and West that had been begun by the SPD-led governments (and strongly opposed by Kohl's own CDU) during the 1970s. Following the breach of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 in 1989, Kohl's handling of the East German issue would become the turning point of his chancellorship.

The road to reunification

Taking advantage of the historic political changes occurring in East Germany, Kohl presented a ten point plan for "Overcoming of the division of Germany and Europe" without consulting his coalition partner, the FDP, or the Western Allies. In February 1990, he visited the Soviet Union seeking a guarantee from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 that the USSR would allow German reunification to proceed. On 18 May 1990, he signed an economic and social union treaty with East Germany. Against the will of the president of the German federal bank
Karl Otto Pöhl
Karl Otto Pöhl is a German economist and a President of the Bundesbank and Chairman of its Central Bank Council from 1980 to 1991....

, he allowed a 1:1 exchange rate for wages, interest and rent between the West
German mark
The Deutsche Mark |mark]], abbreviated "DM") was the official currency of West Germany and Germany until the adoption of the euro in 2002. It is commonly called the "Deutschmark" in English but not in German. Germans often say "Mark" or "D-Mark"...

 and East Marks
East German mark
The East German mark commonly called the eastern mark , in East Germany only Mark, was the currency of the German Democratic Republic . Its ISO 4217 currency code was DDM...

. In the end, this policy would seriously hurt companies in the new federal states
New federal states
The new federal states of Germany are the five re-established states in the former German Democratic Republic that acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany with its 10 states upon German reunification on 3 October 1990....

. Together with Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Hans-Dietrich Genscher
Hans-Dietrich Genscher is a German politician of the liberal Free Democratic Party . He served as Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany from 1974 to 1982 and, after a two-week pause, from 1982 to 1992, making him Germany's longest serving Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor...

, Kohl was able to resolve talks with the former Allies of World War II to allow German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 and the expansion of the NATO into the former East German state. On 3 October 1990, the East German state was abolished and its territory reunified with West Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kohl confirmed that historically German territories
Historical Eastern Germany
The former eastern territories of Germany are those provinces or regions east of the current eastern border of Germany which were lost by Germany during and after the two world wars. These territories include the Province of Posen and East Prussia, Farther Pomerania, East Brandenburg and Lower...

 east of the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

 were definitively part of the Republic of Poland, thereby finally ending the West German territorial claims. In 1993, Kohl confirmed, in a treaty with the Czech Republic, that Germany would no longer bring forward territorial claims as to the pre-1945 ethnic German
Ethnic German
Ethnic Germans historically also ), also collectively referred to as the German diaspora, refers to people who are of German ethnicity. Many are not born in Europe or in the modern-day state of Germany or hold German citizenship...

 so-called Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

. This was a disappointment for the German Heimatvertriebene
Heimatvertriebene
Heimatvertriebene are those around 12 million ethnic Germans who fled or were expelled after World War II from parts of Germany annexed by Poland and Russia, and from other countries, who found refuge in both West and East Germany, and Austria...

, displaced persons.

Chancellor of reunified Germany

Reunification placed Kohl in a momentarily unassailable position. In the 1990 elections
German federal election, 1990
The 12th German federal election, 1990 was conducted on December 2, 1990, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany...

the first free, fair and democratic all-German elections since the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 era Kohl won by a landslide over opposition candidate and Minister-President of Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

, Oskar Lafontaine
Oskar Lafontaine
Oskar Lafontaine is a German politician, former German finance minister, former chairman of the Social Democratic Party and former Minister-President of the state of Saarland. Since 2007 he was co-chairman of The Left...

. He then formed his fourth cabinet
Cabinet Kohl IV
The fourth cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on January 18, 1991 and laid down its function on November 15, 1994. The cabinet was formed after the 1990 elections. It laid down its function after the formation of the Cabinet Kohl V, which was formed following the 1994 elections.This cabinet...

.

After the federal elections of 1994
German federal election, 1994
The 13th German federal election, 1994 was conducted on October 16, 1994, to elect members to the Bundestag of the Federal Republic of Germany.-Issues and Campaign:The SPD let its members elect a candidate for Chancellor against Helmut Kohl...

 Kohl was narrowly re-elected. He defeated the Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate Rudolf Scharping
Rudolf Scharping
Rudolf Scharping is a German politician .Scharping studied politics, sociology and law at the University of Bonn. He joined the Social Democratic Party in 1966. He was Member of the Rhineland-Palatine Parliament from 1975 to 1994. From 21 May 1991 to 15 October 1994 he was prime minister of the...

. The SPD was however able to win a majority in the Bundesrat
Bundesrat of Germany
The German Bundesrat is a legislative body that represents the sixteen Länder of Germany at the federal level...

, which significantly limited Kohl's power. In foreign politics, Kohl was more successful, for instance getting Frankfurt am Main as the seat for the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

. In 1997, Kohl received the Vision for Europe Award
Vision for Europe Award
The Vision for Europe Award is an honour that has been bestowed annually since 1995 by the non-profit Edmond Israel Foundation in "recognition of outstanding achievements in taking Europe into the future."...

 for his efforts in the unification of Europe.

By the late 1990s, the aura surrounding Kohl had largely worn off amid rising unemployment. He was heavily defeated in the 1998 federal elections
German federal election, 1998
A German federal election was conducted on September 27, 1998, to elect members to the 14th Bundestag, the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany.- Issues and campaign :...

 by the Minister-President of Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germany...

, Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

.

Retirement and legal troubles

A red
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

-green
Alliance '90/The Greens
Alliance '90/The Greens is a green political party in Germany, formed from the merger of the German Green Party and Alliance 90 in 1993. Its leaders are Claudia Roth and Cem Özdemir...

 coalition government led by Schröder replaced Kohl's government on 27 October 1998. He immediately resigned as CDU leader and largely retired from politics. However, he remained a member of the Bundestag until he decided not to run for reelection in the 2002 election
German federal election, 2002
The 15th German federal election, 2002 was conducted on 22 September 2002, to elect members to the Bundestag of Germany.-Issues and campaign:...

.

CDU finance affair

Kohl's life after political office was characterized by the CDU-party finance scandal
1999 CDU contributions scandal
In late 1999, it was discovered that the German Christian Democratic Union political party had accepted illegal donations while under the control of Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the 1990s...

 and by developments in his personal life.

A party financing scandal became public in 1999, when it was discovered that the CDU had received and kept illegal donations during his leadership.

Life after politics

In 2002, Kohl left the Bundestag and officially retired from politics. In recent years, Kohl has been largely rehabilitated by his party again. After taking office, Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

 invited her former patron to the Chancellor's Office and Ronald Pofalla, the Secretary-General of the CDU, announced that the CDU will cooperate more closely with Kohl, "to take advantage of the experience of this great statesman", as Pofalla put it. However, Kohl has retreated from public life to a far greater extent than his predecessor Helmut Schmidt.

On 5 July 2001, Hannelore Kohl
Hannelore Kohl
Hannelore Kohl was the wife of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. She met him for the first time at a prom in Ludwigshafen, Germany, when she was 15 years old....

, his wife, committed suicide, after suffering from photodermatitis
Photodermatitis
Photodermatitis, sometimes referred to as "sun poisoning" or photoallergy is a form of allergic contact dermatitis in which the allergen must be activated by light to sensitize the allergic response, and to cause a rash or other systemic effects on subsequent exposure...

 for years. On 4 March 2004, he published the first of his memoirs, called "Memories 1930–1982", covering the period 1930 to 1982, when he became chancellor. The second part, published on 3 November 2005, included the first half of his chancellorship (from 1982 to 1990). On 28 December 2004, Kohl was air-lifted by the Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

n Air Force, after having been stranded in a hotel by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake...

.

He is a member of the Club of Madrid
Club of Madrid
The Club de Madrid is an independent non-profit organization created to promote democracy and change in the international community. Composed of 80 former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 56 countries, the Club de Madrid is the world’s largest forum of former Heads of State and Government.Among...

.

As reported in the German press, he also gave his name to the soon-to-be launched Helmut Kohl Centre for European Studies (currently 'Centre for European Studies'), which is the new political foundation of the European People's Party
European People's Party
The European People's Party is a pro-European centre-right European political party. The EPP was founded in 1976 by Christian democratic parties, but later it increased its membership to include conservative parties and parties of other centre-right perspectives.The EPP is the most influential of...

.

In April 2008, Kohl was reported to be in intensive care due to a falling accident earlier in the year, and incapable of speaking. Subsequent to his recovery, he married his 43-year-old partner, Maike Richter, on 8 May 2008.

Political views

In international politics Kohl was committed to European integration
European integration
European integration is the process of industrial, political, legal, economic integration of states wholly or partially in Europe...

, maintaining close relations with the French president Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

. Parallel to this he was committed to German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

. Although he continued the Ostpolitik
Ostpolitik
Neue Ostpolitik , or Ostpolitik for short, refers to the normalization of relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Eastern Europe, particularly the German Democratic Republic beginning in 1969...

 of his social-democratic predecessor, Kohl also supported Reagan's more aggressive policies in order to weaken the USSR.

Public perception

Kohl faced stiff opposition from the West German political left and was as well mocked upon for his provincial background, physical stature and simple language. Similar to historical French cartoons of Louis-Philippe of France
Louis-Philippe of France
Louis Philippe I was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 in what was known as the July Monarchy. His father was a duke who supported the French Revolution but was nevertheless guillotined. Louis Philippe fled France as a young man and spent 21 years in exile, including considerable time in the...

, Hans Traxler depicted Kohl as a pear in the left leaning satirical journal Titanic
Titanic (magazine)
Titanic is a German monthly satirical magazine based in Frankfurt. It has a circulation of approximately 100,000.- History :Titanic was founded in 1979 by former contributors and editors of Pardon, a satirical monthly, which the group had left after conflicts with its publisher...

. The German expression Birne ("pear
Pear
The pear is any of several tree species of genus Pyrus and also the name of the pomaceous fruit of these trees. Several species of pear are valued by humans for their edible fruit, but the fruit of other species is small, hard, and astringent....

") became a widespread nickname and symbol for the Chancellor. Kohl became one of the most popular politicians in some regions of Eastern Germany and a greatly respected European statesman.

Honors

  • In 1988, Kohl and Mitterrand received the Karlspreis
    Karlspreis
    - See also :*Charlemagne*European integration*Leipzig Human Rights Award, originally called the "Alternative Charlemagne Award", formed in opposition to Clinton's recognition with the award- External links :* http://www.karlspreis.de/ *...

     for his contribution to Franco-German friendship and European Union.
  • In 1996, Kohl received the Prince of Asturias Award in International Cooperation
  • In 1996, he was made honorary doctor of the Catholic University of Louvain
    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
    The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is a Dutch-speaking university in Flanders, Belgium.It is located at the centre of the historic town of Leuven, and is a prominent part of the city, home to the university since 1425...

    .
  • In 1996, Kohl received an order for his humanitarian achievements from the Jewish organisation B'nai B'rith
    B'nai B'rith
    B'nai B'rith International |Covenant]]" is the oldest continually operating Jewish service organization in the world. It was initially founded as the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith in New York City, on , 1843, by Henry Jones and 11 others....

    .
  • In 1996, Kohl received a Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa from the Ateneo de Manila University
    Ateneo de Manila University
    The Ateneo de Manila University is a private teaching and research university run by the Society of Jesus in the Philippines. It began in 1859 when the City of Manila handed control of the Escuela Municipal de Manila in Intramuros, Manila, to the Jesuits...

     in the Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    , a Jesuit run institution.
  • On 11 December 1998, the European Council awarded him the title Honorary Citizen of Europe
    Honorary Citizen of Europe
    Honorary Citizen of Europe is an honour bestowed by the European heads of state or government, for extraordinary work to promote European cooperation. So far, it has only been bestowed on two people: Jean Monnet and Helmut Kohl ....

    , a title which only Jean Monnet
    Jean Monnet
    Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet was a French political economist and diplomat. He is regarded by many as a chief architect of European Unity and is regarded as one of its founding fathers...

     had received before.
  • In 1998, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Brandeis University
    Brandeis University
    Brandeis University is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus. It is located in the southwestern corner of Waltham, Massachusetts, nine miles west of Boston. The University has an enrollment of approximately 3,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students. In 2011, it...

     in Massachusetts
    Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

    .
  • In 1998, he was only the second person to be awarded the Grand Cross in Special Design of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
    Bundesverdienstkreuz
    The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany is the only general state decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has existed since 7 September 1951, and between 3,000 and 5,200 awards are given every year across all classes...

    , the other being Konrad Adenauer
    Konrad Adenauer
    Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. He was the chancellor of the West Germany from 1949 to 1963. He is widely recognised as a person who led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that had forged close relations with old enemies France,...

    .
  • In 1999, Kohl received Presidential Medal of Freedom
    Presidential Medal of Freedom
    The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

     from U.S. President Clinton.
  • Kohl is honorary citizen of both Frankfurt am Main and Berlin. On 2 September 2005, he was made an honorary citizen of his home town, Ludwigshafen.
  • In 2007, he received the Gold Medal of the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe
    Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe
    The Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe is an organisation which supports initiatives dedicated to the construction of European unity. The foundation is inspired by the thinking, methods and actions of Jean Monnet...

     for his contribution to the unity of Europe.
  • On May 16, 2011, Kohl received the Henry A. Kissinger Prize
    Henry A. Kissinger Prize
    The Henry A. Kissinger Prize is awarded by the American Academy in Berlin for exceptional contributions to trans-Atlantic relations. It was established in 2007.-Recipients of the Henry A. Kissinger Prize:* 2007 Helmut Schmidt* 2008 George H. W. Bush...

     at the American Academy in Berlin
    American Academy in Berlin
    The American Academy in Berlin is a research and cultural institution in Berlin whose stated mission is to foster a greater understanding and dialogue between the people of the United States and the people of Germany.The American Academy was founded in September 1994 by a group of prominent...

     for his "singularly extraordinary role in German reunification and laying the foundation for a lasting democratic peace in the new millennium".

See also

  • Cabinet Kohl I
    Cabinet Kohl I
    The first cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on October 4, 1982 and took power on March 29, 1983.The cabinet was the first cabinet to be formed after a constructive vote of no confidence...

  • Cabinet Kohl II
    Cabinet Kohl II
    The second cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on March 29, 1983 and laid down its function on March 11, 1987. The cabinet was formed after the 1983 elections...

  • Cabinet Kohl III
    Cabinet Kohl III
    The third cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on March 12, 1987. The cabinet was formed after the 1987 elections. It laid down its function on January 17, 1991 after the formation of the Cabinet Kohl IV, which was formed following the 1990 elections...

  • Cabinet Kohl IV
    Cabinet Kohl IV
    The fourth cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on January 18, 1991 and laid down its function on November 15, 1994. The cabinet was formed after the 1990 elections. It laid down its function after the formation of the Cabinet Kohl V, which was formed following the 1994 elections.This cabinet...

  • Cabinet Kohl V
    Cabinet Kohl V
    The fifth and final cabinet led by Helmut Kohl was sworn in on November 15, 1994 and laid down its function on October 27, 1998. The cabinet was formed after the 1994 elections...


External links

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