From the province to the world stage: Helmut Kohl maintained close ties to his home region, Rheinland-Pfalz, and used it to his political advantage. How did Kohl’s relationship to this region influence his political career, and his historical legacy?
With his burial on the grounds of Speyer cathedral, Helmut Kohl returns to the region that made him what he was: an international politician from the provinces. Kohl was often pilloried for his provincialism, but he used it to his political advantage: he entertained world leaders at the Deidesheimer Hof hotel, and treated them to his favorite local dishes. In this way, he eased their concerns about the possibility of a unified Germany — and especially, the concerns of the French. And as far as a united Europe was concerned, Kohl envisioned not an abstract bureaucracy, but a community of regions. At the same time, there were serious problems in Kohl’s family life. His two sons and second wife argued about how to maintain Kohl’s political legacy. The CDU in Kohl’s hometown of Ludwigshafen is also divided on Kohl’s place in history — because of his participation in a campaign financing scandal. For this report, we traveled to Rheinland-Pfalz to find out how this region affected Helmut Kohl’s political career.
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