If there is something like ‘political imprinting’, Helmut Kohl was part of mine. When I first became aware of such a thing as politics, as a pre-teen during the ‘Wende’ in 1989, Kohl appeared to me as ‘the’ Chancellor of western Germany, a fixture you identified with the office itself. For more than ten years, he was an entirely negative figure to communist-y (PDS-voting) me. My conversion to the Catholic Church fell into the Schröder chancellorship. Since then, there have been a number of elections at various levels during which I decided, somewhat reluctantly, that the ‘Christian’ Democrats (CDU) might at least be the ‘least evil’ among the available options – something absolutely ‘not done’ among my family and basically all my non-Catholic friends. During parliamentary elections, however, I might quite likely not have decided this way had Kohl, not Merkel, been CDU candidate for chancellorship.

When I checked the news last night after a very busy working day, I stumbled upon the simple fact of Kohl’s death as already old news, all news outlets having moved on to the specifics of the funeral and reviews of Kohl’s career already. Politically ill-educated me, through lack of information or else through instinct, did not like Kohl. He was born the same year as my grandmother, but lived more than six years longer: when I so much would have preferred it the other way round. His health was not good, and his death to be expected, and yet – upon reading that he had died, I felt like punched into the gut for the very fact, perhaps, that an era of history through which I grew up was now finally at an end.

And in spite of all I might still feel worthy of criticism:

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.  Requiescat in pace. Amen.

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