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Architect of Germany's re-unification, Helmut Kohl passes away

Jun 17, 2017 11:50 IST

Helmut Kohl, former German Chancellor who presided over both German reunification and the creation of the eurozone passed away on 16 June 2016. He was 87. 

Kohl passed away at his house in Ludwigshafen, in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. He was a West German politician who served as chancellor of West Germany and later as the chancellor of a unified Germany from 1982 to 1998. He was one of the main drivers of the unification of Germany and the Maastricht Treaty for European unity.

Architect of Germany's re-unification passes away

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has ordered flags at EU institutions to be flown at half-mast to pay homage to the late political stalwart. 

Speaking on her mentor, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Kohl was the right man at the right time, who seized a historic chance to overcome the divide running through Europe.

About Helmut Kohl

• He was born on 3 April 1930 into a conservative, Catholic family.

• His political outlook was shaped by his experiences in his hometown of Ludwigshafen in the Rhineland during World War Two, as the town because of its huge chemical works was heavily bombed. 

• Representing the centre-right Christian Democrats, he was the longest-serving German chancellor of the 20th Century, having led the country for almost 16 years from 1982 to 1998. 

• He is credited with bringing East and West Germany together after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

• He is also credited with the introduction of the euro together with his French ally, President Francois Mitterrand.

• His relations with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had, however, remained frosty throughout their time in office.

Architect of Germany's re-unification passes away

From left to right: Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, European Commission President Jacques Delors, Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French President Francois Mitterand, U. S. President George H.W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney

• Current German Chancellor Angela Merkel held her first ministerial post under Kohl's rule in 1991.

• Relations between the two however soured, following a party funding scandal in 1999.

• Kohl had left active politics in 2002 and following a fall in 2008, he had suffered from impaired speech and used a wheelchair.

• Kohl's later life was also marked by personal tragedy. His wife, Hannelore, killed herself in July 2001 after suffering from a rare skin condition and depression.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his condolences on Kohl’s demise with a series of tweets saying that he was a great statesman and India values his contribution in strengthening India-Germany ties. Modi also recalled Kohl’s visit to India in 1986 and 1993. 


Quick Digest

When: 16 June 2016

Is this article important for exams ? Yes

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