Berlin: Helmut Kohl, the imposing German Chancellor whose reunification of a nation divided by the Cold War has placed Germany in the heart of a united Europe, died Friday at his home in Ludwigshafen. He was 87 years old.
“A life is one and the person who lived it to enter into history,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in Rome. “It will take some time, however, until we can really judge what we have lost in it. Helmut Kohl was a great German and a great European.”
During his 16 years at the helm of the country from 1982 to 1998, first in West Germany and then a united Germany-Kohl combined a tenacious search for European unity with a keen instinct for history. Less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, he led the end of Germany’s decades-long division in east and west, ushering in a new era in European politics.
“When a new spirit began sweeping Eastern Europe in the 1980s, when freedom was won in Poland, when brave people in Leipzig, Berlin and other places in eastern Germany organized a peaceful revolution, Helmut Kohl was the Right person at the right time, “Merkel said.” I only dream and the goal of a United Germany, although others have hesitated. ”
It was a close friendship that Kohl built with other world leaders who helped convince the Western anti-communist allies and leaders of the Soviet Union that a strong collapsed, united Germany could live in peace with its neighbors.
“Helmut Kohl was the largest European statesman since World War II,” said Bill Clinton, the former US president in 2011, adding that Kohl responded to the most important issues of his time “correctly Germany, for Europe correctly, Properly to the United States appropriately for the future of the world. ”
Former US President George H.w. Bush said the world had lost “a true friend of freedom.”
“Working closely with my very good friend to help achieve a peaceful end to the Cold War and the unification of Germany in NATO will remain one of my life joys,” Bush said. “Through our efforts, Helmut was a rock – both stable and strong.”
President Donald Trump said Kohl was “a friend and ally of the United States while leading the Federal Republic of Germany for 16 key years. He was not only the father of German reunification but also an advocate for Europe and the transatlantic relationship” .
“The world has benefited from its vision and efforts and its legacy will continue,” it said in a statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attributes Kohl “to play a key role in ending the Cold War and the reunification of Germany.”
Famed for its massive circumference in a 4- to 6-foot frame, Kohl has always evolved in domestic politics and among his rivals in the conservative Christian Democrat Union, which took power for 16 years until his defeat. Left-center rival of Gerhard Schroeder in 1998.
This was followed by the eruption of a party funding scandal that threatened to tarnish his legacy.
For foreigners, the great conservative with a taste for local white wine and heavy food came to symbolize Germany benign, stable and even boring.