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Father of German unification no more...

Kohl, Father of the unification of East and West Germanies. Leading architect of the common currency of European Union, the euro. Leader who richly contributed to and presided over the German boom of the 1980s and 1990s.

Father of German unification no more...

Helmut Kohl was among the tallest leaders who helped build for Germany, its reputation as a strong economy wedded to free market democratic ideals. 

Adolf Hitler triggered the Second World War (1939-1945) that resulted in the partition of Germany into the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). The Allies – USA, Britain, France and the USSR took control of West Germany; the Soviets  of  East Germany. 

GDR accounted for 30 per cent of the geograpical area; GDR’s population was 16 million in a total 89 million at the time of unification. 

 

Lufthansa the German airline couldn’t fly to Berlin!

East Berlin was the headquarters of GDR. West Berlin, attached to FRG, had a special status as a city with elected representatives headed by a Mayor. Though it was part of FRG, it was not considered as one of its states.  Surrounded by GDR, West Germans were not keen to invest in Berlin. German airline Lufthansa was not allowed to fly over GDR to land in Berlin. Thus, in the post war years huge incomes in air travel was enjoyed by PanAm, British Airways and Air France for landing in West Berlin and by Aeroflot in East Berlin.

 

Stark contrasts in development, Intimidating security checks...

Germans were not permitted to cross over from one side to another. Even for neutral citizens like Indians having good relations with both Germanies, security checks were rigorous. I remember my crossing over, for the first time in 1967, to East Berlin: the rigorous checks by customs and immigration officials, the intimidating security and defence equipment kept in readiness at the eastern side of the wall. Large stately buildings and sparsely populated wide avenues of East Berlin. Standard of living was visibly lower. 

I found life in total contrast with that of the thriving and busy West Berlin. This disparity continued over the next three decades as well. Hundreds of industrial units of the pre-war united Germany were nationalised by the communist government and, in most cases, were no match to the booming industrial units of FRG. 

I have had several opportunities to visit Germany during the 1980s and 1990s to look at dozens of industrial projects and interact with policymakers and leaders in different spheres. Helmut Kohl was at the helm in those years and the economy of FRG was on top gear. German industrial giants, steel and automobile companies and chemical units, were recording high rates of growth with near full employment. Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Britain, apart from the Scandinavian countries, focused on economic development and improved standards of living. Several of their leaders had global visions. As early as 1956, six nations of western Europe formed the European Economic Community which got expanded into a much larger 27 member European Union (EU) breaking down borders and offering free movements across. 

 

When Airbus rendered Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas sick...

EU emerged a strong economic grouping. The best advantage  of such grouping is provided by the emergence of Airbus Industrie as a lead manufacturer of air planes. Remember, until 1970 the global aircraft business was almost entirely pocketed by the three American manufacturers – Boeing, Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas. Germany, France, Italy and Spain jointly set up the Airbus Industrie pooling their resources and generously funding the cost. The booming air traffic in Europe assured bounteous custom and in less than two decades, Airbus rendered Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas sick and emerged to win half the share of global aircraft business. 

Succession of German leaders  Konrad Adenauer, Ludwig Erhard, Kurt Georg Kiesinger, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl-not merely focused on the re-construction of the war-ravaged German economy, but were also visionaries conscious of the strengths of a unified Europe. 

Wars and other strifes had contributed to the partitioning of several countries and territories drastically altering geographies. eg. East and West Germany, North and South Vietnam, North and South Korea... Kohl can truly be considered the father of German unification. 

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