Helmut Kohl′s widow urged to hand over files | News | DW | 25.06.2017
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Documenting Kohl's legacy

Helmut Kohl's widow urged to hand over files

Helmut Kohl's widow has been urged by Germany's Federal Archive to hand over chancellery documents from his 16 years in office. A lawyer for Maike Kohl-Richter has withheld detailed comment until after Kohl's burial.

Archive head Michael Hollmann told SWR, the public broadcaster in Kohl's home Rhineland-Palatinate region, Sunday that official documents from Kohl's era in the Federal Chancellery must be handed over to the archive based in Koblenz.

In his will, Kohl, who began his career as a trained historian and personally opened the modern complex in 1986, gave Kohl-Richter sole powers to handle all of his papers after his death.

Michael Hollmann looks at the camera (picture-alliance/dpa)

Hollmann: Chancellery records belong in the archive

Kohl's lawyer Stephan Holthoff-Pförtner told the magazine Focus published Saturday that a special trust would be established to store Kohl's estate, but he added that "before the burial, I will not discuss the question of how the trust will be constituted."

Records fetched back

Shortly after leaving office in 1998, Kohl had hand-filed records - held by a foundation of his conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) - sent to a federal archive depot at Sankt Augustin, near the former West German capital Bonn, but in 2010 he had them retrieved.

Germany's Federal Archive in Koblenz (Imago/S. Ditscher)

The archive in Koblenz would like to house documents from Kohl's time as chancellor

Hollmann said he hoped that Kohl-Richter, second wife to Germany's reunification chancellor, was "aware of the significance of Helmut Kohl for German and European history." Researchers should have future access, he said.

Expert help offered

Hollmann said determining what documents were of official nature and what were private could be done with the expert help of the archive and its staff located at the purpose-built complex.

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper (WamS) said Hollmann made the offer in a letter to Kohl-Richter, dated June 21 - five days after Kohl passed away in Ludwigshafen on June 16.

Maike Kohl-Richter (Ausschnitt) (Imago/epd)

In the spotlight - widow Maike Kohl-Richter

Wrangle over legacy?

WamS claimed that none of the official Chancellery records were currently at Kohls' home, a bungalow house in Oggersheim, a suburb of Ludwigshafen.

How the world will remember Kohl has already seen a legal row: In April, a Cologne court ordered a publisher and two journalists to pay damages for making public unauthorized quotes from interviews Kohl gave in 2001 and 2002.

Strasbourg-Speyer farewells

Kohl is to be farewelled during a two-hour EU ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on July 1 and is then to be buried in the cemetery of the Speyer Cathedral, according to the German Interior Ministry.

It released details Saturday after days of media speculation.

Special legislation

Germany's Federal Archive has eight outposts across Germany and its own special legislation requiring that its contents, including records of public entities, be preserved and made available to scientific researchers and via the internet.

It is tasked with preserving records from Germany's medieval origins through to the Nazi era, Allied occupation, the 1949 creation of the Federal Republic, and the former communist East Germany, which collapsed in 1989.

The archive's legislation stipulates a weighing up of private and public interests in considering what it stores.

ipj/sms (epd, SWR, dpa)