Helmut Kohl, Father of German Reunification, Dies at 87

The architect of German reunification and former chancellor of the country Helmut Kohl died on Friday, at the age of 87.

As chancellor for 16 years, from 1982 to 1998, he is remembered for effecting Germany's reunification and conteibuting to Europe's integration.

"We mourn", his party, the Christian Democratic Union, said on Twitter in announcing his death.

That was followed by the eruption of a party financing scandal which threatened to tarnish his legacy.

The daily newspaper Bild reported that Kohl died yesterday at his home in Ludwigshafen.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili also offered his condolences to the German people.

"The Catholic Church in Germany, said Cardinal Marx, was pained at news of Mr Kohl's death but was grateful for his Christian witness".

A physically imposing man - he stood 6 feet 4 inches and weighed well over 300 pounds in his leadership years - Chancellor Kohl pursued his and his country's political interests as Germany's chancellor with persistent, even stubborn, determination.

"Helmut Kohl was a great European and a very good friend", Juncker said, adding that the former was an objective observation while the latter was a very personal statement.

"Germany's chancellor had a personal, friendly, relation with Russia's first president - Boris Nikolayevich highly praised those warm feelings of Mr. Kohl towards Russian Federation", she noted.

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush was also a close ally with Helmut Kohl and released a statement say that one of the great joys of his life was working with the German leader to bring an end to the Cold War and seeing the dream of one, unified Germany, take place, according to NPR. His 16-year tenure was the longest of any German Chancellor since Otto von Bismarck, and by far the longest of any democratically elected Chancellor.

By committing to anchor Germany within Europe under a common currency, he overcame resistance to reunification from Mitterrand, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister who feared the return of a powerful, united Germany.

Kohl linked his dedication to a united Europe to his roots in a part of Germany close to France and his boyhood memories of wartime.

Current chancellor Angela Merkel said Kohl was "the right man at the right time" when the winds of change began sweeping through eastern Europe in the 1980s. During his term in office, the Berlin Wall fell and the German reunification was completed peacefully after over four decades of division.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel paid tribute to a "great German statesman and above all a great European". Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) called her predecessor "a stroke of luck for us Germans".

Kohl married Maike Richter, an economy ministry aide 35 years his junior, after his fall, and seven years after Hannelore died.

Vanessa Coleman

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