Commentary (The Times)

Cold War: “Thatcher plotted to block German unity, says Kohl” (Kohl memoirs published)

Document type: Press
Source: The Times , 3 November 2005
Journalist: Roger Boyes, The Times
Editorial comments:
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 380 words
Themes: Defence (general), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU)

Thatcher plotted to block German unity, says Kohl

From Roger Boyes in Berlin

MARGARET THATCHER has been depicted by her erstwhile arch-rival Helmut Kohl as a foot-stamping harridan who plotted behind his back to stop German reunification.

In a new volume of memoirs Herr Kohl, the Christian Democrat Chancellor when Baroness Thatcher was at No 10, says that she was convinced that Germany should stay divided and above all that its East stay out of Nato. “I told her that not even Margaret Thatcher could stop the people from deciding its own fate,” Herr Kohl writes. “She was beside herself with rage and said, ‘That’s how you see it! That’s how you see it!’ ” The conversation took place in Paris soon after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. Mrs Thatcher stamped her feet in rage, Herr Kohl says in Recollections.

He deplores what he calls her “double game”, saying she plotted against him and against Germany. His memoirs are based on contemporaneous notes, his memories and recently opened archives. “What I could only guess at has been proven by the opening of all the protocols. Margaret Thatcher wanted to prevent the reunification of Germany by all possible means.”

Casting doubt on her claim to be a world-class statesman, he says: “The Prime Minister’s biggest problem was her complete miscalculation of the attitudes towards German reunification held by Gorbachev, Mitterrand and President Bush. Mrs Thatcher only wanted to hear what she wanted to hear in the talks.”

It is payback time for Herr Kohl, who has never made a secret of his personal animosity towards Baroness Thatcher. His first volume of memoirs called her a “difficult” woman. She now counts as “very, very disagreeable”.

He still resents the way she, in his view, conspired against him. In interviews she gave during negotiations on German unity, he writes, “Margaret Thatcher dropped her mask completely. The things she had attacked me for behind the scenes were now out in public and she reinforced those attacks through her asperity — her tone, her denigration of ideas and her caustic asides.”