Helmut Kohl Foundation – against the will of his widow

Helmut Kohl was not a friend of the left. But even this party agrees in the Bundestag to establish a foundation for the former Chancellor. Things are very different with the widow Maike Kohl-Richter.

Photo series with 11 pictures

With a large majority, the Bundestag decided to set up a foundation for the former Chancellor Helmut Kohl – against the declared wishes of his widow Maike Kohl-Richter. “In my capacity as heir and widow of Helmut Kohl, I did not agree to the project,” she wrote on her website on Thursday. “The project contradicts my husband’s last wishes.” Unfazed by this, the CDU/CSU, SPD, Greens, FDP and Left voted in the evening for the institution, which has its model in foundations for the former chancellors Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt (both SPD). The AfD abstained.

Kohl was Chancellor from 1982 to 1998 and CDU chairman from 1973 to 1998. His name stands for the regaining of German unity and the expansion of European integration, but also for the CDU donation affair that was uncovered in 1999.

“Helmut Kohl studied history as a young man,” said CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak in the debate. “Through his work, through his life’s work, he himself has become the great story of our country and the European Union.”

Erhard Grundl from the Greens emphasized that the CDU’s “slush funds” were also part of Kohl’s legacy. “Let’s accept that historically it’s always about a critical appraisal, not about the fabrication of a heroic epic.” For Die Linke, MP Simone Barrientos insisted that Kohl’s personal estate go into the new foundation. It is to be feared that Kohl’s widow will not hand over the files. “The Helmut Kohl Foundation must help stop this fuss. Of course, all these documents are part of the country’s cultural heritage.”

What should the purpose of the foundation be?

According to the law, the purpose of the foundation should be “to preserve Dr. Helmut Kohl’s political work for the freedom and unity of the German people, for peace in the world, for reconciliation with neighboring European countries and European integration”. In this way, a contribution to the understanding of contemporary history and the further development of the Federal Republic should be made.

The foundation should contribute to the research, strengthening and further development of the European integration process in the global environment. In addition, it should deepen and expand knowledge of current and future political, economic and social challenges in Germany, Europe and the world.

Kohl’s widow wrote that the structure of the foundation did not correspond to her husband’s ideas at the time. “The CDU has (so far) not been impressed by my concerns and ideas, which I discussed with my husband over many years and we developed together.”

Sharp criticism in widow’s letter

Kohl-Richter went on to criticize: “The CDU is risking that Helmut Kohl will become the pawn of politics and new majorities: You just have to keep adapting the foundation law – which is possible at any time with a simple government majority – and reshuffle the committees accordingly.

In an eleven-page press release from Kohl-Richter’s lawyers, it is said that the CDU should first have worked through the donation complex and “clarified its relationship with Helmut Kohl, for which those responsible – clearly – lack any willingness and any openness and (human) sensitivity”. .

Her client “simply has doubts that an objective review of Helmut Kohl’s life and politics within the framework of the planned foundation construction can succeed at this point in time and under these conditions and is on a good, clear foundation,” the law firm continued. “How is our client supposed to trust that the planned, supposedly (as can be seen not) politically independent foundation is not just the continuation of the political fight against Helmut Kohl and his politics, along the lines of the so-called donation affair?”