Helmut Kohl 

Helmut Kohl
Source: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 1989

Helmut Kohl was the Chancellor of West Germany between 1982 and 1990. He was also the first Chancellor of the unified Germany, from 1990, remaining in this role until 1998. Kohl led Germany to reunification and he also defended the euro as the single European currency. Helmut Kohl was born on April 3, 1930, in Germany, and received a PhD in Political Science at the University of Heidelberg. He became interested in politics from an early age and in 1947 he began to collaborate with the youth organization of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in his hometown.

Kohl was elected the Vice President of the CDU in 1969 and he became President of the Party in 1973. In 1976, he ran for elections, but lost that position to Helmut Schmidt of the SPD. Helmut Kohl became Chancellor of West Germany only ten years later, in 1983, through a coalition of three parties; CDU, CSU and FDP. This happened because the former Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, received a vote of no confidence in the Bundestag (German parliament) by his coalition partners of the government. Between 1983 and 1987, the following elections, which were also won by Kohl and the coalition of ruling parties, the policies of this Chancellor’s government focused on West Germany’s commitments to NATO.

In 1989, when the Soviet Union eased its grip on East Germany, Kohl led the German reunification. In October 1990, East Germany was dissolved, and its constituent states joined West Germany, reuniting the country. In December 1990 the first free and fully German parliamentary elections since 1932 took place, where Kohl and his ruling coalition CDU-CSU-FDP won a majority in the Bundestag. Helmut Kohl passed away on June 16, 2017.


Pruys, K. H. (1996). Kohl: Genius of the Present: A Biography of Helmut Kohl. Edition Q.

Wicke, C. (2015). Helmut Kohl’s Quest for Normality: His Representation of the German Nation and Himself (Making Sense of History. New York: Berghahn Books.

Clay, C. & Paterson, W. E. (Eds. (1998)). The Kohl Chancellorship. London: Routledge.