Helmut Kohl widow denied inheritance of posthumous compensation | News | DW | 29.05.2018
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Helmut Kohl widow denied inheritance of posthumous compensation

The former German chancellor had won a lawsuit against his ghostwriter, but passed away before the payments were settled. A court has now ruled that Maike Kohl-Richter may not inherit her husband's compensation.

The high regional court in Cologne ruled Tuesday that Maike Kohl-Richter was not entitled to receive €1 million ($1.1 million) in damages awarded to her husband, the late former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, shortly before his death.

The compensation, which was not settled until after Kohl's passing, represented the largest sum ever won in a private lawsuit in Germany. 

Read more: Opinion: Helmut Kohl, a great statesman

The court concluded that damages-related compensation cannot be inherited. Such payments can only be awarded to the plaintiff directly, while that person is alive. Kohl's widow will now have the opportunity to appeal the decision.

Kohl clashes with author

The compensation was awarded to Helmut Kohl in April 2017, following a lawsuit against his former ghostwriter, Heribert Schwan.

The focus of the suit was Schwan's unauthorized biography titled "Vermächtnis - die Kohl-Protokolle" (Legacy - The Kohl Transcripts). Kohl accused the writer of damaging his reputation and some relationships and argued that Schwan had published material from his conversations with Kohl without his consent.

Heribert Schwan, Helmut Kohl's ghostwriter (picture-alliance/dpa/R. Vennenbernd)

Heribert Schwan, Helmut Kohl's goshtwriter

Among the controversial content of the unauthorized biography, Schwan described Kohl's antipathy towards his protégé, the current German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his distrust of former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble's commitment to the EU's economic union and his claim that Mikhail Gorbachev ultimately dissolved the USSR because it was bankrupt.

Read more: Opinion: The self-destruction of Helmut Kohl's legacy

Maike Kohl-Richter takes on Schwan

The legal process was complicated by the passing of the former German chancellor before he could receive the payments. Kohl died on June 2017, sending the compensation payment to Cologne's higher regional court to decide if they could still be awarded to his wife.

The writer has accused Kohl-Richter of driving a wedge between him and Helmut Kohl, with whom he had collaborated on three other books prior to the controversial unauthorized biography.

Maike Kohl-Richter was named sole heir to Kohl's estate and she had fiercely defended her husband in his dispute with Schwan. She can now decide whether to appeal the verdict.

jcg/rt (dpa)

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