Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

On the Passing of Helmut Kohl

On the Passing of Helmut Kohl

Helmut Kohl, the chancellor who presided over both German reunification and the creation of the eurozone, has died aged 87, The Guardian reported.

Described the "greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century" by US Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Kohl struck up a close partnership with French President Francois Mitterand, which helped ease the way to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty setting up the European Union and the introduction of the euro.

He was the leader of the Christian Democratic Union Party, and he has the honor of the long-lasting time period of 16 years after the Otto Von Bismarck. Often harsh and thin-skinned, Kohl also could display a quick wit and jovial earthiness. The conversion of bankrupt East German marks for the prized western currency at an over-generous (for the East Germans) exchange rate greatly hampered the initial competitiveness of the East German economy.

He was born in the year 1930 to Catholic parents and he joined the Hitler Youth in the year 1940 just at the age of ten.

A photograph showing Kohl holding hands with French president François Mitterrand at the Douaumont cemetery in Verdun became the defining symbol of Franco-German conciliation after decades of bloody conflict between the two countries. His oldest brother, Walter, was killed in action a few months earlier.

Of overwhelming character and physique, Helmut Kohl - who according to his sons sacrificed the family for politics - then retired from public life.

Kohl linked his dedication to a united Europe to his memories of a wartime boyhood.

Still, the "blooming landscapes" that Kohl promised East German voters during reunification were slow to come after the collapse of its communist economy, and massive aid to the east pushed up German government debt.

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