Helmut Kohl

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Helmut Kohl (1996)

Helmut Josef Michael Kohl (3 April 1930 – 16 June 2017) was a German statesman and politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who served as Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 (of West Germany, 1982–1990; and of reunified Germany, 1990–1998) and as chairman of the CDU from 1973 to 1998. Kohl's 16-year tenure is the longest of any German Chancellor since Otto von Bismarck, and oversaw the end of the Cold War, the German reunification and the creation of the European Union.


  • Entscheidend ist, was hinten rauskommt.
    • Translation: The crucial thing is what comes out at the end.
    • In a press conference on August 31, 1984; cited in DER SPIEGEL (September 3, 1984)
  • Die jungen Leute in Deutschland haben kein Problem mit dem Judentum. Ich gehe ja auch manchmal mit meinen beiden Jungs über den jüdischen Friedhof in Oggersheim.
    • Translation: The young people of Germany have no problem with Judaism. I too, with my two sons sometimes walk across the Jewish cemetery in Oggersheim.
    • In Tel Aviv in front of 900 Israelian politicians (January 1983)
  • Die neue Armut ist eine Erfindung des sozialistischen Jet-sets
    • Translation: The new poverty is an invention of the socialist Jet-set.
    • STERN (July 24, 1986)
  • Erträge und Kosten müssen im richtigen Verhältnis zueinander stehen.
    • Translation: Revenue and cost have to be in the right relation to each other.
    • In a speech in Düsseldorf in 1986
  • Von deutschem Boden muss in Zukunft immer Frieden ausgehen.
    • Translation: In all future, only peace may come from German soil.
    • Lecture in front of the Frauenkirche (December 19, 1989)
  • I am not the one trying to speed things up. We are being driven.
    • Note: On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. The idea of German reunification, often discussed but considered unrealistic, once again became a subject of heated debate. Reunification now appeared inevitable, but scarcely anyone ventured to prophesy how soon it would come. German chancellor Helmut Kohl remarked those words when was accused of pushing unification plans too fast.
    • Awake! magazine, 12 - 22 - 1991; in its article The Dream of European Unity.
  • Durch eine gemeinsame Anstrengung wird es uns gelingen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern und Sachsen-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Sachsen und Thüringen schon bald wieder in blühende Landschaften zu verwandeln, in denen es sich zu leben und zu arbeiten lohnt.
  • Eine erfolgreiche Industrienation, das heißt eine Nation mit Zukunft, lässt sich nicht als kollektiver Freizeitpark organisieren.
    • Translation: A successful industrial nation, meaning a nation with future, can not be organized as a collective holiday resort.
    • In a parliamentary speech (March 1993)
  • Das ist eine klassische journalistische Behauptung. Sie ist zwar richtig, aber sie ist nicht die Wahrheit.
    • Translation: This is a typical journalistic statement: It is correct, but it is not the truth.
    • ARD-Tagesthemen (February 22, 1994)
  • Die Existenzgrundlage unseres Landes geht kaputt, wenn erst die Schleusen für die Ausländer geöffnet sind.
    • Translation: The means of existence of our country will break down, once the watergates are open to the foreigners.
    • Lecture for businessmen from Schwabia (March 1994)
  • Wir werden die Arbeitslosigkeit und die Zahl der in Deutschland lebenden Ausländer um die Hälfte reduzieren.
    • Translation: We will cut in half unemployment and the number of foreigners living in Germany.
    • Taz (June 10, 1998), during the 1982 election campaign
  • Die Visionäre von gestern sind die Realisten von heute.
    • Translation: The visionaries of yesterday are the realists of today.
    • Discussion with his predecessor Helmut Schmidt in 'Die Zeit' (1998)
  • Wir gehen nach Berlin – aber nicht in eine neue Republik.
    • Translation: We will move to Berlin - but not to a new republic.
    • 50 JAHRE DEMOKRATIE DANK AN BONN" (July 06, 1999)
  • Die deutsche Einheit und die europäische Einigung sind zwei Seiten ein und derselben Medaille.
    • Translation: The German Reunification and unification of Europe are two sides of the same coin.
    • In a speech on the 15th party congress of the CDU, in Frankfurt an Main (June 17, 2002)
  • Das ist der schlimmste Präsident seit Hermann Göring.
    • Translation: This is the worst president since Hermann Göring.
    • On President of German Parliament Wolfgang Thierse, according to DER SPIEGEL during lunch with colleagues (August 29, 2002)
  • I knew that I could never win a referendum in Germany. We would have lost a referendum on the introduction of the Euro. That's quite clear. I would have lost and by seven to three…. If a Chancellor is trying to push something through, he must be a man of power. And if he's smart, he knows when the time is ripe. In one case – the Euro – I was like a dictator ... The Euro is a synonym for Europe. Europe, for the first time, has no more war.
    • 2002 interview for the PhD. of Jens Peter Paul, a German journalist


  • Once democratised, Communism had become redundant, and the same process affected the very state of East Germany. Currency union with West Germany took effect on 1 July, East Germany came to an end as a separate state on 3 October, and all-German elections followed on 2 December 1990. Thatcher was unhappy about German re-unification, while President Mitterrand of France wanted two democratic Germanys and not the speedy creation of an over mighty Germany. However, in response to the victory of the pro-unification parties in the East German election in March 1990, he proved more accommodating, not least because of a promise from Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, that French companies would be allowed to acquire East German state-owned companies in the rapid privatisation that was pushed through. Kohl traded subsequently on his role in securing unification, and this helped him win re-election, as Chancellor of the united Germany, in 1994.
  • But German reunification was, nonetheless, an unsettling prospect, not just for the Soviet Union but for all Europeans who remembered the record of the last unified German state. This anxiety transcended Cold War divisions: Gorbachev shared it with Jaruzelski, French President François Mitterrand, and even Margaret Thatcher, who warned Bush that "[i]f we are not careful, the Germans will get in peace what Hitler couldn't get in the war." The one prominent European who disagreed was West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who surprised everyone by coming out in favor of reunification a few days before the Malta summit. Bush thought he had done so because "he wanted to be sure that Gorbachev and I did not come to our own agreement on Germany's future, as had Stalin and Roosevelt in the closing months of World War II." Kohl, then, was leading, but only barely because the East Germans themselves—having broken through the wall—quickly made it clear that they would accept nothing less than reunification. Hans Modrow, who had replaced Krenz as prime minister, informed Gorbachev at the end of January, 1990, that "[t]he majority of the people in the German Democratic Republic no longer support the idea of two German states." The government and party itself, K.G.B. chief Vladimir Kryuchkov confirmed, were falling apart. Confronted with this information, Gorbachev saw no choice: "German reunification should be regarded as inevitable."
  • It's been quite a journey this decade, and we held together through some stormy seas. And at the end, together, we are reaching our destination. The fact is, from Grenada to the Washington and Moscow summits, from the recession of '81 to '82, to the expansion that began in late '82 and continues to this day, we've made a difference. The way I see it, there were two great triumphs, two things that I'm proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created—and filled—19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale. America is respected again in the world and looked to for leadership. Something that happened to me a few years ago reflects some of this. It was back in 1981, and I was attending my first big economic summit, which was held that year in Canada. The meeting place rotates among the member countries. The opening meeting was a formal dinner of the heads of goverment of the seven industrialized nations. Now, I sat there like the new kid in school and listened, and it was all Francois this and Helmut that. They dropped titles and spoke to one another on a first-name basis. Well, at one point I sort of leaned in and said, "My name's Ron." Well, in that same year, we began the actions we felt would ignite an economic comeback—cut taxes and regulation, started to cut spending. And soon the recovery began. Two years later, another economic summit with pretty much the same cast. At the big opening meeting we all got together, and all of a sudden, just for a moment, I saw that everyone was just sitting there looking at me. And then one of them broke the silence. "Tell us about the American miracle," he said.
  • Of course, peace might have come to Europe without the Union. Maybe. We will never know. But it would never have been of the same quality. A lasting peace, not a frosty cease-fire. To me, what makes it so special, is reconciliation. In politics as in life, reconciliation is the most difficult thing. It goes beyond forgiving and forgetting, or simply turning the page. To think of what France and Germany had gone through …, and then take this step … Signing a Treaty of Friendship … Each time I hear these words – Freundschaft, Amitié –, I am moved. They are private words, not for treaties between nations. But the will to not let history repeat itself, to do something radically new, was so strong that new words had to be found. For people Europe was a promise, Europe equalled hope. When Konrad Adenauer came to Paris to conclude the Coal and Steel Treaty, in 1951, one evening he found a gift waiting at his hotel. It was a war medal, une Croix de Guerre, that had belonged to a French soldier. His daughter, a young student, had left it with a little note for the Chancellor, as a gesture of reconciliation and hope. I can see many other stirring images before me. Leaders of six States assembled to open a new future, in Rome, città eternaWilly Brandt kneeling down in Warsaw. The dockers of Gdansk, at the gates of their shipyard. Mitterrand and Kohl hand in hand. Two million people linking Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius in a human chain, in 1989. These moments healed Europe.

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