Saturday, June 17, 2017

Helmut Kohl dies

The Frankfurter Rundschau refers to him as The master of political power'.

Heulmut Kohl, known as the 'Chancellor of German unity' died in his beloved Ludwigshafen yesterday. He was 87.

Addressing the Israeli Knesset in 1984 he explained he had the "mercy of a late birth".

Kohl, who was the longest serving German leader since Bismarck, was born in 1930 into a Catholic anti-Nazi family. His brother Walter fell in Noramandy.

He was first elected Chancellor in 1982 when SPD Chancellor Helmut Schmidt lost a vote of confidence in the Bundestag.

Kohl's CDU formed a coalition with the FDP.

The night the Wall came down Kohl was in Warsaw but on October 3, 1990, Kohl was in Berlin to experienece German unification.

It was Kohl who recognised the Oder-Neisse border and so pleased the Poles.

He introduced a young inexperienced woman to his cabinet in 1991whom he called his Mädchen. Angela Merkel grabbed power from him in 1998 and has been German Chancellor since 2005.

Dr Kohl's wife Hannelore died by suicide. She suffered a rare allergy to sunlight.

Former Soviet leader and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev spoke of Kohl as a leader who has left a positive stamp on Europe.

Kohl's last years saw sadness and tragedy. As a result of a fall he was left partially paralysed. He married a former aid, 34 years his junior. There were issues with his two sons and a court case over his memoirs.

Helmut Kohl was the architect of a united Germany and a warrior for Europe.

Yesterday a commentator on RTE said he was the greatest chancellor of Germany in the 20th century. Greater than Adenauer or indeed Brandt or Schmidt? Come to think of it, Germany has been fortunate to have had so many outstanding post war leaders.

And it so happens today in Berlin  Germans remembered the rising that took place on this day, June 17, 1953 in the former GDR. Workers demonstrated in Berlin on June 16 protesting against low wages. The following day the demonstrations spread throughout the GDR and became a protest against the State. The rising was suppressed by troops of the Soviet Army assisted by the Volkspolizei.

As a result of the rising there is a main street in Berlin called 17 Juni Straße.

A tiny point: Helmut Kohl died on the day of the German Junior and Leaving Cert exams in Ireland.

1 comment:

Francis Hunt said...

No way would I consider Kohl to be the greatest Chancellor of the 20th century. Yes, he showed unerring political instinct in 1989/90, reading the signs of the times unerringly, steering his country towards reunification, and getting all the major world leaders to sign up to it. It will remain his enduring, historic legacy. But for large stretches of his chancellorship he was mediocre, even boorish. The title would be much more deservedly awarded to Adenauer, Brandt, or Schmidt. In my humble opinion ;-)

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