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Kohl, Helmut(Helmut Josef Michael Kohl) (hĕl`mo͝ot' yō`zĕf' mĭkh`äĕl kōl), 1930–2017, German statesman, chancellor of West Germany (1982–1990) and reunified Germany (1990–98). A member of Christian Democratic Union (CDU), he was elected to the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament in 1959, became state CDU chairman in 1966, and served as state premier (1969–76). In 1973 he became chairman of the national CDU, leading the opposition in the West German Bundestag, where he engineered a no-confidence vote against Social Democrat Helmut SchmidtSchmidt, Helmut
, 1918–2015, German political leader, chancellor of West Germany (1974–82). After serving in World War II, he entered politics and joined the Social Democratic party. He was elected to the Bundestag in 1953.
..... Click the link for more information. (1982) and the desertion of the Free Democrats from the governing coalition; the party then joined the CDU in coalition and Kohl became chancellor.
Conservative and pro-American, he led the CDU to convincing victories in 1983 and 1987. During his administration, West Germany prospered and became increasingly influential in world affairs. Harnessing momentum for reunification starting in 1989, when East Germany began to disintegrate, Kohl successfully campaigned for the CDU there (Mar., 1990), winning a mandate for speedy reunification, and subsequently secured the agreement of Soviet president GorbachevGorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich
, 1931–, Soviet political leader. Born in the agricultural region of Stavropol, Gorbachev studied law at Moscow State Univ., where in 1953 he married a philosophy student, Raisa Maksimovna Titorenko (1932?–99).
..... Click the link for more information. . Having accomplished reunification under the West German constitution in October, he led the CDU to victory in nationwide elections (Dec., 1990) and became the first chancellor of reunified Germany. Kohl also worked with French president MitterrandMitterrand, François Maurice
, 1916–96, French political leader, president of France, 1981–95. Initially a supporter of Pétain's Vichy government during World War II, he joined the Resistance in 1943.
..... Click the link for more information. to strengthen the European Community and transform it into the European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
..... Click the link for more information. , laying the groundwork for European monetary union. He continued as chancellor and CDU chairman until 1998, when the CDU was defeated at the polls by the Social Democrats led by Gerhard SchröderSchröder, Gerhard
, 1944–, chancellor of Germany (1998–2005), b. Mosenburg, Germany. A telegenic lawyer and Social Democrat, he entered politics as a Marxist student in the 1960s and was elected to the Bundestag in 1980.
..... Click the link for more information. .
In 1999, Kohl became embroiled in a serious scandal as the existence of more than $1 million in secret campaign contributions to him and other financial irregularities during his administration came to light. Refusing to disclose the source of funds paid to him and with his reputation in shambles, Kohl was forced to resign (2000) as honorary chairman of the CDU. In 2001 he agreed to pay a 300,000-mark fine in exchange for an end to the criminal investigation into his role in the campaign contributions scandal. He retired from the Bundestag in 2002.