Helmut Kohl dies, former German Chancellor

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The Christian Democrat leader oversees the reunification of Germany and contributes to the European construction. Kohl died at age 87 at his home in Ludwigshafen

Helmut Kohl dies, former German Chancellor

Helmut Kohl has died at the age of 87 in Ludwigshafen (David Gannon / AFP)

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the great impetus for German reunification and convinced Europeanist, has died this morning at the age of 87 at his home in Ludwigshafen, according to the daily ‘Bild’ in its digital edition.

The historic Christian Democrat leader was a key figure in the events surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the process leading to German reunification a year later. He was also the ruler who was the most time in charge of his country in the postwar period; Was chancellor from 1982 to 1998, first only of the West Germany, and from 1990 of the reunited Germany.

Helmut Kohl governed reunited Germany from 1990 to 1998

Helmut Kohl (Ludwigshafen am Rhein, land of Rhineland-Palatinate, 1930) studied History and Political Science at the University of Heidelberg, and at the age of 15 entered the youth of the newly founded Christian Democratic Party (CDU). In 1973 he became president of the party, and a decade later managed to become chancellor.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl received by citizens of East Germany in the framework of a state election in 1990 (Mark-olivier Multhaup / AFP)

His great achievement was to supervise the reunification of Germany, and another of his political endeavors was the construction of a Europe of peace and prosperity, founded above all on Franco-German friendship. In the early 1990s he became the mentor of a policy of East Germany, now Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in 1991 appointed minister of the first government of unified Germany.

It propelled a Europe of peace and prosperity

In his years as a ruler, he established a close friendship with the late French President Fran├žois Mitterrand, and also linked him with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the former Soviet Union. After the electoral defeat of 1998, Kohl also was marked by the scandal that exploded in 1999 when being informed irregular donations to its party, the CDU. Kohl was forced to resign as party chairman.

French President Francois Mitterrand and Kohl shake hands in an act commemorating those killed in the Battle of Verdun in an image from 1984 (Marcel Mochet / AFP)

Of overwhelming character and physique, Helmut Kohl – who according to his sons sacrificed the family for politics – then retired from public life. His first wife, Hannelore Kohl, who had contracted a serious illness, committed suicide in 2001. Seven years later, the widower Kohl married at age 78 with Maike Richter, a woman 34 years his junior.

Resign as CDU president over a scandal of irregular donations

The health of the former German chancellor was delicate since in 2008 he suffered a fall that caused a traumatism, which confined him in a wheelchair and made him difficult to speak.

Bill Clinton, then president of the United States, along with Kohl, in a 1995 image (Paul J. Richards / AFP)

When he turned 85 in 2015, then-Federal President Joachim Gauck praised him in a public message. “Germany will never forget that it decided the right thing at the right time,” wrote Joachim Gauck. “He never accepted the division of our country, but managed to launch its reunification with force and resolution.”

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