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Kohl, Bush and Gorby meet ahead of Wall anniversary

AFP/The Local · 1 Nov 2009, 08:51

Published: 01 Nov 2009 08:51 GMT+01:00

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The former German chancellor (1982-1998), former US president (1989-1993) and last Soviet leader (1985-1991) took the stage to share their memories of 1989 in front of a silvery curtain at an historic cabaret venue the Friedrichstadtpalast.

"Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush were Germany's most important partners," said Kohl, 79, who has been wheelchair-bound since fracturing his hip in February 2008.

"There has never been a relationship that reached the level of my relations with these two gentlemen," he said.

The "chancellor of reunification," who speaks with difficulty after a stroke left his lower face partially paralysed, saluted Bush as someone to call if you wanted cheering up.

"If you were in a bad mood, you just had to pick up the telephone and call George Bush.... I can assure you that he'd put you in a good mood," he said, to rapturous laughter from the 1,800 people present.

The audience included newly elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Hungarian and Polish prime ministers Miklos Nemeth and Tadeus Mazowiecki, as well as ambassadors and other dignitaries.

Major celebrations are planned for November 9, marking two decades since the Berlin Wall came down, heralding the collapse of Soviet communism and the reunification of Germany.

Saluting his "former colleagues," Bush, 85, who also has difficulty moving since a hip operation in 2007, hailed Kohl as "truly a great statesman of the 20th century -- he was a rock, solid!"

"Nevertheless, the events of '89 were not set in motion in Bonn, Moscow or Washington, but in the hearts and minds of the people deprived for too long of their God-given rights," Bush said.

Gorbachev, 78, remembered two leaders who were absent, whose countries occupied West Berlin along with the United States: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, 84 and suffering from Alzheimer's, and former French president Francois Mitterand, who died in 1996.

"Thatcher and Mitterand and myself, we defended the position that there needed to be two Germanys," Gorbachev said. "I'm sorry, Helmut. We didn't have good relations at the start."

Story continues below…

Recently declassified documents have shown that Britain was hostile to, and France worried about Germany's reunification.

A "Festival of Freedom" is being organised for November 9, during which Merkel will receive guests including Gorbachev, Polish former anti-communist leader Lech Walesa, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

French and Russian presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev will also attend, while US President Barack Obama will be represented by his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:46 November 1, 2009 by Jibzy
Mr. Kohl also said, "We Germans don't have very much in our history to be proud of," and i have frankly lost my respect for Mr. Kohl.

Why was this not reported here when this could be reported at BBC?


Germans do not need to be ashamed of what happened decades ago. How many of this generation were responsible for that? Is the British government guilty that it conquered half of the world killing millions and millions? Is the US government guilty that it used to 'import' slaves from Africa? Why Germany?? Only cuz it lost the WWII?
15:17 November 1, 2009 by edwards629
Oh get off it jizby, when did america ever stick millions of people including little children in death camps and murder them. And when did america ever have a secret police force like the stasi or the gestopo, and did america ever build walls to keep people in a country. I know im speaking of east and west germany but its still germany, so kiss my ass jizby you scum bag.
15:36 November 1, 2009 by alpha_beta300
Oh come on edwards629. Every one watches the news how America bombs civilian areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. The whole world has seen how Iraq was devastated on grounds of lies emanted by American administration. Shouldn't Ameica be ashamed of it? Since the second world war, US has a history of aggression from Latin America to Asia. And you expect only the Germans to be ashamed of their history?
16:50 November 1, 2009 by Celeon
I think all three have one thing in common, they all have a political career behind them which did involve lots of controversies but nonetheless history will treat all three very very kindly.

Especially Gorbachov . Many people may hate him in Russia but the clear majority of history books and historians from around the world will describe him as one of the greatest and most important statesmen of our century.

And if you ask me, he deserves that.
16:58 November 1, 2009 by Zobirdie
Um...Edwards? What do you call what North Americans did to the Indians? Giving whole villages of people blankets infected with small pox really removes that 'leg to stand on.' Current estimates on the deaths of the North American Indigenous population by European settlers between 1800-1950 is approximately 45 million.To get more recent, in 1950, the US army stood by and (literally) watched as the South Koreans killed over a million 'border area' Korean people as they 'might' have joined the communists. Let me see... Secret police forces- might I direct your attention to Mr. J. Edgar Hoover and his files on people. The beatings/torture of suspected (and actual) Communists in the 1950s. Hmm.. Racism- the Jim Crow laws which weren't repealed until 1965 which ENSURED segregation in the United States- not to mention the medical experimentation on the poor black population.

Just to name a few things off the top of my head without getting into American history of the last eight years. I'm not trying to 'America Bash' but I don't think any of us really have a moral right to stand in judgment of Germany as Jizby said.

Kohl is wrong. Germany had 12 bad years in the National Socialist period. There is no justifiable excuse for the Holocaust. That said, Prussia was one of the most advanced states for equality and emancipation in the 1800s. It was a leader in philosophy, education and technology up until the first World War. It was a threat to the British Empire and that is why hawks such as Winston Churchill were resolved to bring Germany down to her knees.
17:30 November 2, 2009 by edwards629
Zobirdie some of what you say is true we had our own injustice's during our history just like any other country. But to say that we killed 45 million indians between 1800-1950

is so stupid I cant even address it in to many words, because its untrue and plain stupid. and to say we let south koreans murder 1 million inocent north koreans is just another dum and stupid statement. Zordie i suppose you even think that americans went to mars and killed a million martians to. Zorbirdie what you need to do is either start telling the truth or go back to school.
01:18 November 3, 2009 by Jibzy
So enlighten us how many Indians did you kill?

If you're so kind then how come you're the only country who has actually used Nuclear bombs on innocent civilians of Japans.

And learn to talk like an adult. Stop being 16 at least on this forum please.
16:10 November 3, 2009 by edwards629
I love your propaganda jiz brain, see your type always has to bring up the atom bomb when your making excuse's for your countrys crimes. Well japan was like germany at that time, it was murdering and killing thousands of inocent people across asia every day. I know your uneducated jiz brain, but if you can read up on the nanking massacre, the massacre in that city alone was the murder of over 300,000 chinese people by the japanese, many of females were raped children where shot right along with the adults. And that was just one city. See you bringing up the atom bomb is meaningless, we americans have nothing to be ashamed of when dropping those bombs. It's just another way that you and people like you can try and excuse the murder that was done by your people. And jiz brain when you bring up the indians, your only acting like your freind bird brain, that is showing your desperate for something and your an idiot.
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