The father of German reunion, during whose term as the Chancellor, the Great Berlin wall was demolished and the two Germany’s unified, passed away on Friday morning at his home in Ludwigshafen, according to the German media. He was 87. A towering personality, whose unsophisticated local provincial accent coupled with his informal style, had initially led his opponents to underestimate him in the early years of his appointment as the Chancellor, was in fact a very strong proponent and advocate of European integration, a perspective shaped by the two world wars that ravaged Europe and claimed the lives of his brother and uncle.
Together with, the then, French President Francois Mitterrand, the enigmatic socialist with whom he developed an unlikely personal bond, Kohl helped steer a peaceful course for the continent during the twilight years of the Soviet Union, when the foundations of Europe’s post-war order crumbled and had to be reset.
By committing to anchor Germany within Europe under a common currency, he overcame resistance to reunification from Mitterrand, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister who feared the return of a powerful, united Germany. In a tribute to him the then president of the US of A, Mr Bill Clinton described Kohl as one of post-war Europe’s defining statesmen. “His vision helped to usher the global community into the 21st century, to build bold and lasting relationships that endure to this day,” said he.
Being forced to resign as honorary chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, the party he had led for 25 years, after admitting to receiving $1 million in illegal cash donations during his time as chancellor, which he doled out to local party organisations at his whim, being a man of his word he refused to divulge the names of the beneficiaries stating that he had given them his word of honour not to disclose their names.