Its roundness, its ways provincial and his emphasis on the rhine have made Helmut Kohl, one of the political figures the most mocked ofGermany. And thus one of the most under-estimated. His feigned bonhomie hid in reality a political animal who has served for sixteen years the federal chancellery and whose name remains inseparable from the major event of the contemporary history : German reunification (die Wiedervereinigung).
Born in 1930 in Ludwigshafen, in Rhineland, the young Kohl is affected by the virus policy even before the end of his schooling. At age 16 he became a member of the christian democratic Union (CDU), whose guardian figure, then, is another of the Rhine : Konrad Adenauer. It is precisely in this state of Rhineland-Palatinate to which it will always remain true that he made his first weapons. As a member of parliament first, and then, from 1969, as minister-president. Four years later, Helmut Kohl became leader of the CDU, but it will have to wait until 1982 to win finally, after multiple failed election, the federal chancellery. The man who succeeded the social democrat Helmut Schmidt and form a coalition with the liberals then leads to a policy that differs not fundamentally from those conducted by the previous administration. Champion of the social market economy, Kohl’s is even more of a European visceral.
A relationship of trust with François Mitterrand
After Adenauer and de Gaulle, after Schmidt and Giscard, Kohl and Mitterrand are going to carry on the tradition of franco-German cooperation as a driving force of the construction community. Their personalities and political routes are as dissimilar as possible, but their partnership will have an accelerating effect (Schengen agreements, single european act) and remains forever symbolized by a picture : the two men in custody and hand in hand on the ruins of Verdun.
But it is an event totally unexpected that will make access Helmut Kohl to the status of statesman. On 9 November 1989, the east German regime, gasping for breath and weakened by months of popular protests, allows citizens of the GDR to travel to the West. The communist won’t. Accessing the desire of a large majority of East Germans, Helmut Kohl orchestra in a record time the reunification of the country divided in the aftermath of the Second world War. It becomes effective on October 3, 1990, less than a year after the fall of the Berlin wall. A success which also entails some obligations. The chancellor must first give guarantees to neighbouring countries, including Poland, who are worried about a possible resurgence of nationalism in German. By guaranteeing the inviolability of the external borders, excluding any temptation isolationist, and insisting on the necessary continuation of the construction of europe, Kohl reassured quickly by the international community. To such a point that the decision to transfer the capital from Bonn to Berlin will no reserve abroad.
The economic and social integration of east Germany Is much less developed than the federal Republic is revealed, however, more laborious, in spite of the huge ongoing investments made by the government. Kohl is criticized for doing too much, or too little, but the polemics on the merits of its choices do not start basically his personal credit. Already reappointed in 1987, again in 1991, after the first election organized in a unified Germany, and then in 1994.
An end-of-life difficult
The 1998 elections are, on the other hand, the combat too much. A victim of the wear and tear of power, weakened by a scandal over secret funding of the CDU, Kohl is defeated and must give way to the social-democrat Gerhard Schröder. After writing his memoirs, he will keep a role of an advisor to Angela Merkel, to whom he had set foot in the stirrup and he affectionately called “the kid”. In 2001, former chancellor had been confronted with the suicide of his wife, Hannelore, suffering from a skin disease that forced her to live cloistered, sheltered from the natural light. He remarried in 2008 with Maike Richter, an economist from 50 years of age with whom he lived in a conjugal relationship for several years. The end of his life was painful, because one has accused his second wife of cut of the world the ex-chancellor, and to deprive him of the visit of his relatives and that of his children.