, Rhineland-Palatinate , Germany
|| April 03, 1930
Dec 23, 2012 12:44pm
Caucasian - German - Conservative - Anti-Death Penalty - Pro-Missile Defense - Married - Widowed - Catholic - Christian - Straight -
|Info||Dr. Helmut Kohl (full name Helmut Josef Michael Kohl) is a German conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 (West Germany only between 1982 and 1990). |
Born on April 3, 1930 in Ludwigshafen, Germany, to a Catholic and conservative family, Kohl participated in the late stage of WWII as a teenage soldier. He joined the Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) in 1947. He then went on to earn a philosophy doctorate (ph.d.) degree in history. From 1969-1976 he was Minister President of the Rhineland-Palatinate state, after which he became a member of the Federal Parliament to be the leader of the CDU opposition against the government led by the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of the time. He was the CDU's candidate for Chancellor in the 1976 federal elections, which the SPD won.
On October 1, 1982, he succeeded Helmut Schmidt as Chancellor by means of a Constructive Vote of No Confidence, the only one in post-war German history that was successful to date. Especially in the earlier days of his tenure, Kohl faced stiff opposition from the German political left. His adversaries frequently referred to him by the widely known disparaging nickname of "Birne" (German word for pear; after unflattering cartoons showing Kohl's head as a pear). Such initially common public ridicule however subsided somewhat over time and in the later years of Kohl's tenure the moniker was rarely used anymore. Kohl holds the record of being the longest-serving Chancellor of Germany since Otto von Bismarck, until being succeeded by Gerhard Schröder on October 27, 1998 after a landslide victory of the SPD in the 1998 federal elections.
Helmut Kohl also was the leader of the CDU party from 1973-1998.
He was married to the late Hannelore Kohl and has two sons from that marriage.
Kohl is widely recognized even by some of his political adversaries for managing the process of German reunification that started with the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, and formally completed on October 3, 1990. While not all has been well economically in Germany during and since his government, most people would agree that he managed to convince international leaders that a unified Germany would represent no threat to its neighbors by tying German reunification with the tighter integration of Germany into the European Union.
Kohl's political heritage has been damaged by a massive party financing scandal starting in 1999, when it was discovered that the CDU had received and maintained illegal funding under his leadership. Investigations by the German Parliament into the sources of illegal CDU funds, mainly stored in Geneva bank accounts, revealed two sources: 1. Sales of German tanks to Saudi Arabia (kickback question), 2. Privatisation fraud in collusion with the late French President François Mitterrand who wanted 2,550 unused allottments in the former East Germany for the then French owned Elf Aquitaine. In December 1994 the CDU majority in the Bundestag enacted a law that nullified all rights of the current owners. Over 300 million DM in illegal funds were discovered in accounts in the canton Geneva. The fraudulently acquired allotments were then privatised as part of Elf Aquitaine and ended up with TotalFinaElf after amalgamation. The land package then entered what is now TOTAL SA.
Helmut Kohl himself claimed that Elf Aquitaine has offered (and meanwhile made) a massive investment in East Germany's chemical industry together with the takeover of 2,000 gas stations in Germany which were formerly owned by national oil company Minol. Elf Aquitaine is supposed to have financed CDU illegally as ordered by François Mitterrand, as it was usual practice in African countries.
In 2003 it became known that Helmut Kohl was paid 300,000 € (then 600,000 Deutsche Mark) by private television mogul Leo Kirch for an advisory contract. Rather delicate, reckoning the fact that only through reforms championed by Helmut Kohl in the Eighties Leo Kirch had been put into the position to build his private television empire.
On December 28, 2004, Kohl was air-lifted by the Sri Lankan Air Force after having been stranded in a hotel by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.