Feeble Counter-Attack

Rehashed Memoirs of a Betrayed Chancellor

Source: AFP
Former chancellor, Helmut Kohl, at the book fair in Frankfurt presenting his new/old biography.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Former chancellor Helmut Kohl has been betrayed by his former confidant, but is too frail these days to shoot back effectively.

  • Facts


    • Chancellor Helmut Kohl served from 1982 to 1998, first in the former West Germany and after 1990 as head of a united Germany.
    • He was known for his harsh criticism of fellow party members and enemies.
    • Historians say that a new book by his former confidant is just an attempt to make money.
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Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, also known as the “chancellor of German unification”, finds himself in an uncomfortable public spotlight these days after a former confidant disclosed private conversations that the two had behind closed doors.

Heribert Schwan once worked for Mr. Kohl, helping him write his books, including an autobiography that was published in 2010 as well as other memoirs about Mr. Kohl’s tenure as chancellor and his late wife, Hannelore Kohl.

During a series of meetings, Mr. Schwan recorded conversations he had with the former chancellor and also had access to minutes of private meetings between Mr. Kohl and other world leaders at the time, as well as a file that the former East German state security kept on him.

This week, Mr. Schwan published a series of extracts from the 600 recordings that he kept, which were excluded from any of the books Mr. Kohl commissioned from him. They include nasty comments about fellow party members, such as current chancellor Angela Merkel. “Merkel has no clue,” Mr. Kohl allegedly said, and “cannot eat with fork and knife at dinner parties.”

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