Helmut Kohl

Helmut Josef Michael Kohl (German pronunciation: [ˈhɛlmuːt ˈkoːl] (listen); 3 April 1930 – 16 June 2017) was a German politician who served as Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998[lower-alpha 1] and Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1973 to 1998. Kohl's 16-year tenure is the longest of any German chancellor since Otto von Bismarck, and oversaw the end of the Cold War, the German reunification and the creation of the European Union (EU).

Helmut Kohl
Kohl in 1996
Chancellor of Germany[lower-alpha 1]
In office
1 October 1982  27 October 1998
Preceded byHelmut Schmidt
Succeeded byGerhard Schröder
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union
In office
12 June 1973  7 November 1998
General Secretary
Preceded byRainer Barzel
Succeeded byWolfgang Schäuble
Bundestag Leader of the CDU/CSU group
In office
13 December 1976  4 October 1982
Chief WhipPhilipp Jenninger
First DeputyFriedrich Zimmermann
Preceded byKarl Carstens
Succeeded byAlfred Dregger
Member of the Bundestag
for Rhineland-Palatinate
In office
26 October 1998  17 October 2002
Electoral listCDU
In office
14 December 1976  20 December 1990
Electoral listCDU
Member of the Bundestag
for Ludwigshafen
In office
20 December 1990  26 October 1998
Preceded byManfred Reimann [de]
Succeeded byDoris Barnett
Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate
In office
19 May 1969  2 December 1976
DeputyOtto Meyer [de]
Preceded byPeter Altmeier
Succeeded byBernhard Vogel
Leader of the CDU in the Landtag of Rhineland-Palatinate
In office
Preceded byHermann Matthes [de]
Succeeded byJohann Wilhelm Gaddum [de]
Member of the
Landtag of Rhineland-Palatinate
In office
19 May 1959  21 December 1976
Preceded byMulti-member district
Succeeded byHans-Dieter Busch [de] (1977)
  • Wahlkreis 6 (1959–1971)
  • Wahlkreis 5 (1971–1975)
  • Wahlkreis 3 (1975–1976)
Personal details
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl

(1930-04-03)3 April 1930
Ludwigshafen, Germany
Died16 June 2017(2017-06-16) (aged 87)
Ludwigshafen, Germany
Resting placeCathedral Chapter Cemetery, Speyer
Political partyChristian Democratic Union
    (m. 1960; died 2001)
      (m. 2008)
      Alma materHeidelberg University

      Born in 1930 in Ludwigshafen to a Catholic family, Kohl joined the CDU in 1946 at the age of 16. He earned a PhD in history at Heidelberg University in 1958, and worked as a business executive before becoming a full-time politician. He was elected as the youngest member of the Parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate in 1959 and from 1969 to 1976 was minister president of the Rhineland-Palatinate state. Viewed during the 1960s and the early 1970s as a progressive within the CDU, he was elected national chairman of the party in 1973. After he had become party leader, Kohl was increasingly seen as a more conservative figure. In the 1976 and 1980 federal elections his party performed well, but the social-liberal government of social democrat Helmut Schmidt was able to remain in power. After Schmidt had lost the support of the liberal FDP in 1982, Kohl was elected Chancellor through a constructive vote of no confidence, forming a coalition government with the FDP. Kohl chaired the G7 in 1985 and 1992.

      As Chancellor, Kohl was committed to European integration and especially to the Franco-German relationship; he was also a steadfast ally of the United States and supported Ronald Reagan's more aggressive policies to weaken the Soviet Union. Following the Revolutions of 1989, his government acted decisively, culminating in the German reunification in 1990. Kohl and French president François Mitterrand were the architects of the Maastricht Treaty which established the EU and the Euro currency.[1] Kohl was also a central figure in the eastern enlargement of the EU, and his government led the effort to push for international recognition of Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina when the states declared independence. He played an instrumental role in resolving the Bosnian War. Domestically Kohl's policies from 1990 focused on integrating former East Germany into reunified Germany, and he moved the federal capital from the "provisional capital" Bonn back to Berlin, although he never resided there because the government offices were only relocated in 1999. Kohl also greatly increased federal spending on arts and culture. After his chancellorship, Kohl became honorary chairman of the CDU in 1998 but resigned from the position in 2000 in the wake of the CDU donations scandal which damaged his reputation domestically.

      Kohl received the 1988 Charlemagne Prize and was named Honorary Citizen of Europe by the European Council in 1998. Following his death, Kohl was honoured with the first-ever European act of state in Strasbourg.[2] Kohl was described as "the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century" by US presidents George H. W. Bush[3] and Bill Clinton.[4]

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