Kohl Unplugged

A Former Chancellor's Bitter Memories

Germany Kohl Juncker
Helmut Kohl has had sharp words for many old colleagues.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Helmut Kohl’s legacy could be damaged by an unauthorized book of interviews in which he lashes out at his party colleagues, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

  • Facts


    • Helmut Kohl was the German chancellor from 1982 to 1998, and he presided over German reunification.
    • The book of Kohl transcripts is the result of 630 hours of interviews at his home near Frankfurt.
    • The author, Heribert Schwan, has already written three other books related to the interviews.
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Angela Merkel “couldn’t eat with a knife and fork” is just one of the comments coming back to haunt former German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, with the launch of the book “Legacy. The Kohl Transcripts” this week.

Journalist Heribert Schwan recorded this and other statements over the course of 100 meetings at Mr. Kohl’s home near Frankfurt in 2001 and 2002.

The 630 hours of interview material were to be developed into the legacy of the “chancellor of German unity.” Three volumes were published, but then Mr. Schwan and Mr. Kohl fell out.

So far, the former chancellor has successfully defended his rights to his own words. A court ordered Mr. Schwan to give the tapes back in August, but the damage was done. Mr. Schwan had the full transcripts.  Mr. Schwan has appealed to the Federal Court of Justice, Germany’s highest civilian court, but the publication of the new book is already going ahead this week. Co-written with Tilman Jens, it is being described by publishers Heyne as an “authentic portrait of the chancellor – a close-up.”

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