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Walter Kohl, Businessman

29.04.2012 Talking Germany's host Peter Craven talks with Walter Kohl about mobbing at school, about how he dealt with his past and his personal experience of some of the key events in modern German history.

Walter Kohl was born in 1963 in the city of Ludwigshafen - in the state of Rhineland Pfalz in southwest Germany. He was the first of two sons born to Hannelore and Helmut Kohl. In 1969, Helmut Kohl rose to become state premier of Rhineland Pfalz. In the years that followed, the NATO double-track decision and the left-wing RAF terror group dominated the news in Germany. At school, Walter Kohl found himself increasingly unpopular because of his father's policies and was often bullied. The family home became a fortress and the young Walter had to have a police escort. When he later decided to pursue a career with the German armed forces, his father's polarizing personality once again caused him problems. It was only when he decided to go to the United States to study that he found he could finally be himself. There, German politics was much less of an issue. He spent nine years studying and working abroad - first in Cambridge, then in New York City and later in Vienna and Paris.

In 1989, he had the unforgettable experience of witnessing the opening of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, together with his father in East Berlin.

His mother's suicide in 2001 was a heavy blow for Walter Kohl. As the relationship with his father became increasingly distanced, Walter Kohl began the long and difficult process of stepping out of his old identity as Helmut Kohl’s son, becoming his own man and being reconciled with his past.

In 2005 he and his Korean wife set up their own company, which imports car parts from Asia for the European automotive industry. Today he lives with his family near the city of Frankfurt.