Ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl′s widow breaks silence on family feud | News | DW | 18.01.2018
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Ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl's widow breaks silence on family feud

Maike Kohl-Richter has spoken for the first time since her husband's death seven months ago. She expressed frustration with the way she is portrayed in the press and over the behavior of Kohl's sons.

Speaking with the German weekly magazine Stern, Maike Kohl-Richter defended herself against what she says have been repeated false accusations. The second wife of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl lamented the fact that Germany's media outlets have portrayed her as "a monster, that was keeping poor children from seeing their father and grandfather," adding: "I feel as if I have been declared fair game for hunting."

Read more: 'Pictures make politics': How Helmut Kohl staged himself

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Helmut Kohl: From the province to the world stage

Media narrative?

The reference was made in addressing the very public feud that took place between the Kohls and the ex-chancellor's sons from her first marriage, Walter and Peter. Pictures of Walter and his two children standing in front of the closed entrance gate to his father's villa after his death were widely disseminated across German media. Kohl-Richter had refused to allow them to enter, at which point the three were escorted away by police. The images quickly became part of the public's perception of what was a bitter family feud. Neither of Kohl's sons attended his funeral.

Maike Kohl-Richter, accompanied by Bill Clinton at her husband's funeral

Maike Kohl-Richter, accompanied by Bill Clinton at her husband's funeral

Reclusive marriage

After marrying the former chancellor in 2008, Kohl-Richter faced media accusations of attempting to "build a wall" around Helmut Kohl. 

Kohl-Richter was named the sole heir to Kohl's estate. She noted that the relationship between Kohl and his sons had become estranged because the father was so disappointed by his sons' attempts to profit from their relationship, turning it into a "business model" and seeking media attention according to Kohl-Richter.

She also made clear that €1 million ($1.2 million) had been paid out to the sons and their families while Kohl was still alive in order to avoid an inheritance dispute.

Read more: Helmut Kohl, the 'giant', remembered at European memorial ceremony  

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How will history look at Kohl's legacy?

Historical documents waiting for a new home

Another issue that Maike Kohl-Richter addressed was that of the ex-chancellor's documents and records. She hinted that many of Kohl's files were likely in his villa in Oggersheim, southern Germany. Those documents have also been a bone of contention between the widow and her stepsons.

Kohl-Richter says that Kohl personally drafted a will in 2007 in which: "My husband made it clear that I was to be the sole legitimate heir and contact person with regard to his life's work." She says it was important to Kohl that his estate "not be broken up and that it be kept in a place that was accessible for serious research."

Kohl-Richter says that she has been conducting meetings as to what should happen with such documents but will make her decision with regard to a possible Helmut Kohl Foundation in peace and quiet. The sons have called for the documents to be housed on federal property and handled by the state rather than the family.

The German Federal Archives in Koblenz sent a written request to the widow shortly after her husband's death, asking her to hand over all documents from Kohl's 16 years as German chancellor. The archive made the request so that researchers could access documents pertaining to the transformative years in which Helmut Kohl led the country (1982-1998), overseeing German reunification in 1990. It is unclear just how many documents are in the ex-chancellor's villa.   

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