German of the Week: former chancellor Helmut Kohl celebrates his 85th birthday

Our German of the week just celebrated his 85 birthday on Friday, the once West German chancellor and then German chancellor after the reunification, Helmut Kohl.

Kohl was chancellor for 16 years and was in power during the reunification. He helped to build the European Union and oversaw Germany’s switch from the Deutschmark to the Euro.

The current chancellor, Angela Merkel, as well as the influential US diplomat, Henry Kissinger, wrote articles for one of Germany’s largest newspapers, Bild in Kohl’s honor. They both praised him for his contributions in helping Germany become what it is today.

Before he was elected to the position of chancellor, Kohl lived in the state of Rhineland Palatinate and was the region’s state premier. As a top candidate, his party, the conservative CDU party, led him to the top governmental position in 1982. He served until in 1998, when he was ousted by social democrat Gerhard Schröder.

He was known for thinking large and getting things done. He was also praised for his working well with foreign powers such as the French president Francois Mitterrand, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and the US president George Bush.