Helmut Kohl, Architect Of A Reunified Germany, Dies At 87

FILE - The July 17, 1990 file photo shows Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, center, sitting with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, and German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher at a table in the garden of the guest house in Archiz during a break in their talks on the discussion of NATO-membership of United Germany, the most hard topic in the negotiations to German unification.

President George H.W. Bush similarly recognized Kohl as "a true friend of freedom, and the man I consider one of the greatest leaders in postwar Europe". Kohl had mentored Merkel early in her career, appointing her to her first ministerial post.

- 1976: Makes first bid for the chancellery, but Social Democratic incumbent Helmut Schmidt's coalition retains power in election. This required great political strength and courage - both of which qualities Helmut had in abundance. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) called her predecessor "a stroke of luck for us Germans".

The death of 87-year-old Kohl was announced by the Christian Democratic Union party with a memorial message.

Born on 3 April, 1930, in Ludwigshafen, a western industrial city on the Rhine, Kohl joined the Hitler Youth but missed service in the Nazi army.

In recent years, Kohl had strongly championed closer European integration and criticised Merkel's handling of the eurozone's debt crisis.

Prime Minister Theresa May said Mr Kohl was a "giant" of European history.

"When a new spirit began to stir in eastern Europe in the 1980s, when, starting in Poland freedom was seized, when courageous people in Leipzig, East Berlin and elsewhere in East Germany began a peaceful revolution, then Helmut Kohl was the right man at the right time", said Merkel, who was wearing black.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Kohl "was a great European and a great friend".

After Britain voted to quit the EU, Kohl gave a rare interview to Bild in 2016, urging the bloc s member states to not apply too much pressure on London.

Helmut Kohl was the longest-serving Chancellor after WWII and second only to Bismarck overall.

In 2011, President Bill Clinton called Kohl "the most important European statesman since World War II", adding that "the 21st century in Europe really began on his watch".

Kohl took power in 1982, leading West Germany into a new era which would result in the reunification of East and West Germany.

Netanyahu says he sends "condolences to the Kohl family and to the German people".

NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg described him as the "embodiment of a united Germany in a united Europe". Yeltsin's widow Naina, expressing her condolences about Kohl's passing, stating that he was "a man who did so much for the development of equal relations between his country and the new, democratic Russian Federation".

French President Emmanuel Macron praised Mr Kohl as the "architect" of German reunification.

"If we look at the modern world, full of wars and contradictions, I am sure that this is not what Helmut Kohl meant to achieve", he added.

  • Leroy Wright