Helmut Kohl, father of German reunification, dies at 87

Helmut Kohl, father of German reunification, dies at 87

Helmut Kohl, father of German reunification, dies at 87

Mattarella wrote to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying "I have learned with deep sorrow of the passing of Helmut Kohl, a political personality of extraordinary significance in the recent history of Germany and the whole of Europe".

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 hard to speak. That was followed by a party financing scandal which threatened to tarnish his legacy.

Kohl's first attempt to unseat Social Democratic Chancellor Helmut Schmidt failed in 1976, but Kohl seized his chance six years later, taking power on October 1, 1982, when a junior coalition party switched sides.

Diplomatic relations between Germany and the United States were at an all-time high at the time when Kohl led his country.

For foreigners, the bulky conservative with a fondness for heavy local food and white wine came to symbolise a benign, steady - even boring - Germany.

"Helmut Kohl understood that the two things were inseparable".

He helped a Germany that was split during the Cold War between a capitalist west and a communist east make the traumatic transition to a unified democracy. He is the longest serving Chancellor of his country Germany.

"Voters do not like Kohl, but they trust him", was an often repeated line.

The first monetary adventure, which significantly shaped his life as an 18-year-old, was the 1948 establishment of the Deustche mark, replacing the war-shattered Reichsmark.

Juncker described Kohl as the "very essence of Europe".

Still, the "blooming landscapes" that Kohl promised East German voters during reunification were slow to come after the collapse of its economy, and massive aid to the east pushed up German government debt.

Born on April 3, 1930, in Ludwigshafen, a western industrial city on the Rhine, Kohl joined the Hitler Youth but missed service in the Nazi army. He also drew criticism for failing to embark on economic reforms.

Related news