Helmut Kohl's united Germany and Europe

Former German Chancellor and statesman Helmut Kohl, the longest-serving postwar Western leader, died at the age of 87 on June 16.

Tributes from world leaders showed that Kohl was mostly remembered for his contribution to today's Germany and European integration. As the architect of the reunification of East and West Germany, he played a significant role in overcoming the obstacles of fusion of two Germanys in 1990 after decades of separation.

Following Germany's defeat in the Second World War, it was until 1949 split into separate governing sectors between the victors (the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and France), when two countries were formed: The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) under the Western influence and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) under the control of the Soviet Union. It was vivid reminder of the division of Europe until the end of the Cold War years.

The FRG, a.k.a. West Germany, quickly recovered from the destructive effects of the Second World War by closely integrating with the Western bloc, becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the European Economic Community (the forerunner of today's European Union). On the other hand, the GDR, a.k.a. East Germany, remained in dismal and grim economic and political conditions until the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc in the late 1980s.
The long-built significant economic and social differences between East and West Germanys have continued as important obstacles for reunification even after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. As the Berlin Institute for Population and Development stressed in a recent study, the overwhelming majority of Germans still believe...

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