Helmut Kohl

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In 2002, Kohl left the Bundestag and officially retreated from politics. In recent years, Kohl has been largely rehabilitated by his party again. After taking office, Angela Merkel invited her former patron to the Chancellor's Office and Ronald Pofalla, the Secretary-General of the CDU, announced that the CDU will cooperate more closely with Kohl, "to take advantage of the experience of this great statesman", as Pofalla put it. However, Kohl has retreated from public life to a far greater extent than his predecessor Helmut Schmidt.

On 5 July 2001, Hannelore Kohl, his wife, committed suicide, after suffering from photodermatitis for years. On 4 March 2004, he published the first of his memoirs, called "Memories 1930–1982", covering the period 1930 to 1982, when he became chancellor. The second part, published on 3 November 2005, included the first half of his chancellorship (from 1982 to 1990). On 28 December 2004, Kohl was air-lifted by the Sri Lankan Air Force, after having been stranded in a hotel by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

He is a member of the Club of Madrid.[6]

As reported in the German press, he also gave his name to the soon-to-be launched Helmut Kohl Centre for European Studies (currently 'Centre for European Studies'), which is the new political foundation of the European People's Party.

In April 2008, Kohl was reported to be in intensive care due to a falling accident earlier in the year, and incapable of speaking. Subsequent to his recovery, he married his 43-year-old partner, Maike Richter, on 8 May 2008.

Political views

Kohl had strong, although complex and somewhat ambiguous political views, focusing on economic matters[citation needed] and on international politics.

Economically, Kohl's political views and policies were influenced by Ronald Reagan's and Margaret Thatcher's free market beliefs like reform of the welfare state and lowering taxation.[citation needed]

In international politics Kohl was committed to European integration,[7] maintaining close relations with the French president Mitterrand. Parallel to this he was committed to German Reunification. Although he continued the Ostpolitik of his social-democratic predecessor, Kohl also supported Reagan's more aggressive policies in order to weaken the USSR.

Public perception

Kohl faced stiff opposition from the West German political left and was as well mocked upon for his provincial background, physical stature and simple language. Similar to historical french cartoons of Louis-Philippe of France, Hans Traxler depicted Kohl as pear in the left leaning satirical journal Titanic.[8] The German expression Birne became a widespread nickname and symbol for the Kanzler.[9]

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