Thatcher and Kohl clashed over unity after Fall of the Berlin Wall
Former Chancellor’s memoirs offer an unsparing account of a Prime Minister revealing her prejudices about an old enemy.
“But can we trust them?” Margaret Thatcher’s doubts about a new, merged Germany surfaced again and again during the months that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The dramatic event, followed by a ten-point unification plan put forward by Helmut Kohl, the West German Chancellor, challenged her political instincts and stirred the buried prejudices about Germans that she shared with much of Britain.
Nine days after the crumbling of the Wall, she met Mr Kohl in Paris and expressed her reservations in very firm terms. In his memoirs, the Chancellor recalled: “I told her that not even Margaret Thatcher could stop the people from deciding its own fate. She was beside herself with rage and said, ‘That’s how you see it! That’s how you see it!’. ” According to Mr Kohl, she stamped her feet in frustration.
Mr Kohl came to see himself as one of history’s winners — and the winner of his duel with Mrs Thatcher, an elemental row about the future shape of Europe. “The Prime Minister’s biggest problem was her miscalculation of the attitudes towards German reunification held by Gorbachev, Mitterrand and President Bush,” said Mr Kohl, who airbrushes most of Mitterrand’s hostility to unity out of his memoirs.
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