Helmut Kohl: Ten Facts You Need to Know

helmut kohl german chancellor.

Helmut Kohl Facts – The Former German Chancellor

For 16 years, between 1982 and 1998, Helmut Kohl was the chancellor of Germany – until now, the record holder. On June 16, 2017, the 87-year-old politician passed away in his home in Ludwigshafen am Rhein (Ludwigshafen at the Rhine). Ten facts about the “chancellor of the reunification of Germany”.

  • Helmut Kohl was born on April 3, 1930, in Ludwigshafen am Rhein. He grew up together with an older sister and an older brother, who died in 1944 while serving during World War II. This incident was a life-changing experience for Kohl, who extremely admired his older brother.
  • He studied history and political sciences in Heidelberg and is holding a Ph.D. He wrote about Die politische Entwicklung in der Pfalz und das Wiedererstehen der Parteien nach 1945 ( = The political development in palatine and the rise of the parties after 1945). Throughout his whole life, he remained very interested in history.
  • Started his political career at the age of 16, when he became a member of the Junge Union ( = Young Union, the junior party of the Christ Democratic party CDU). Since 1959, Kohl was the deputy of the state parliament in Rhineland-Palatine. In 1969, he became prime minister of Rhineland-Palatine. Only four years later, Kohl was elected as the party leader of the CDU in Bonn (the political headquarter of West Germany). In Rhineland-Palatine, he was considered as a very dynamic and active politician. He was said to be very good in making contacts to influential people in politics. His handsome figure certainly also played a role: Helmut Kohl’s height was 6′ 4″.
  • Helmut Kohl became chancellor of Germany in 1982 after a failed no-confidence vote of the then collapsing social-liberal coalition.
  • Helmut Kohl felt always very connected to his hometown Ludwigshafen. His favorite food was a typical dish from this region called Saumagen ( = pig’s stomach), which he made famous across the borders.
  • Married his first wife, the former foreign language correspondent Hannelore Kohl, in 1960. They had two sons together called Walter and Peter. While he was focused on politics, Hannelore Kohl took care of the children and the house. Helmut Kohl’s wife was said to be very smart, disciplined and loyal. Hannelore Kohl commit suicide in 2001 in their house in Ludwigshafen after years living withdrawn due to a “light allergy”.
  • People admire him as the “chancellor of the reunification of Germany”. After the peaceful revolution in the DDR, Kohl took the chance to unify Germany –  the highlight of his political career.
  • Angela Merkel and Helmut Kohl had a very strong relationship. People in Germany used to call her “Kohl’s Mädchen” (Kohl’s girl) because he made her be a minister in his cabinet by the late 1990s, which opened up her political career. Around 10 years later, Merkel became the chairwoman of the party CDU.
  • As the chancellor of Germany, one of Kohls major aims was European cooperation. On September 22, 1984, he and the French President Mitterrand jointly honored the fallen soldiers of the First World War in Verdun. Nevertheless, for some of his statements – for instance, his statement that he was merciful to be born too late to be entangled in the liability of the cruelties of World War II – he got scolded.
  • Kohl married his second wife, Maike Richter, in 2008. Maike Richter was 34 years younger than Kohl. Until his death on June 16, 2017, she was said to have much control over his life. Kohl and his sons were not in contact with each other for several years before his death.
Featured images (cropped): Helmut Kohl – Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 DE/ Helmut KohlEngelbert Reineke Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

June 16, 2017
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