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Quadriga

Quadriga

He was one of the architects of German reunification and the single European currency, but was also a key figure in a slush fund scandal that shook Germany's political establishment to its core. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has certainly left his mark on the German and European political landscapes, but public opinion is split on him.

Watch video 42:27

Now, thirty years after he was first elected chancellor, Germany is reassessing his political legacy.


For 16 years, from 1982 to 1998, Helmut Kohl was at the helm of Germany. During his years in power, Kohl was admired for his political talent and stamina, but was also the target of satire for his provincial background and imposing stature.

His determination to achieve German reunification and his unfaltering support for European integration won him respect and admiration in Germany and beyond. However, there were others who put his achievements down to pure opportunism and say he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Revelations that Kohl's CDU party received and kept several illegal donations tarnished the clean image that many had of him. His political party distanced itself from its elder statesman and his services and political know-how were no longer in demand. Instead, the media turned the spotlight on his private life and publicized the tragic suicide of his wife, his second marriage, and a row with his sons.

As Germany marks 30 years since Kohl first became chancellor, the country is still wrangling over how to assess his political legacy. His old CDU party may have forgiven and forgotten, but his contribution to European integration is now being seen in a new light due to the Eurozone debt crisis.

Tell us what you think: Helmut Kohl - Europe's Last Visionary?

Send us an email: Quadriga@dw.de

Our guests:

Pascal Thibaut– The French journalist came to Berlin in 1990 and initially worked as a freelance journalist for various media organisations, including Radio Multi Kulti and Deutsche Welle. Since 1997 he has been foreign correspondent for Radio France International.

Michael Stürmer – has been the senior correspondent at the German daily "Die Welt" since 1989. Born in Kassel in 1938, Stürmer studied History, Philosophy and Languages in London, Berlin and Marburg. He is also Professor of Modern History at the University of Erlangen.

Matthias Lohre - joined the politics department at the Tageszeitung in Berlin several years ago and became the newspaper's parliamentary correspondent in 2008. He has a special focus on the CDU, the Green Party and the FDP.