German parliament remembers former Chancellor Helmut Kohl
BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s parliament honored former Chancellor Helmut Kohl in a memorial on Thursday, remembering him as the architect of German reunification but also as someone who wasn’t without flaws.
Norbert Lammert, the parliament speaker, said that because of Kohl “the peaceful unity of our country and a free and pacified Europe is today a reality.” Kohl, who spearheaded German reunification in 1990 and was an architect of the euro, died Friday at age 87.
Remembering the party financing scandal that embroiled Kohl after he left office in 1998, Lammert said the former chancellor himself “acknowledged some mistakes.”
Lammert told Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and others that “Kohl’s path was sometimes painful, sometimes caused by himself and sometimes caused by others.”
Kohl is being honored with an official European memorial event, a first for the European Union, at the European Parliament on July 1.
A requiem mass will then be held at the cathedral in Speyer, in Kohl’s home region, where the former leader also will be buried. Unusually, however, there won’t be a state funeral in Germany beyond the official European event — apparently at Kohl’s wish.
Lammert, a member of Kohl’s party, remarked in his speech to parliament that the location and format in which Kohl is honored for his political work in Germany is “with all due respect, not just a family matter.”
Kohl’s death has highlighted rifts in the ex-chancellor’s family. He had fallen out with his two sons and one of them, Walter Kohl, said he and two of the former leader’s grandchildren were turned away from Kohl’s home when he tried to visit Wednesday.
Stephan Holthoff-Pfoertner — a lawyer for Maike Kohl-Richter, Kohl’s widow and second wife — accused the younger Kohl of ignoring earlier efforts to organize contact and deliberately setting up the scene by turning up unannounced. Walter Kohl denied that.