Helmut Kohl, 78, Marries Girlfriend in Hospital

Health fears mount for architect of German reunification
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2008 2:34 PM CDT
Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, left, speaks with his companion Maike Richter, right, in Berlin in this July 20, 2007, file photo.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Helmut Kohl, the chancellor first of West Germany and then of a reunified Federal Republic, has married at the age of 78. But the wedding, to an economist 30 years his junior, took place in a hospital amid fears that he is in deteriorating health. As the Independent reports, Kohl's new bride, Maike Richter, has been standing in for him at public events, and the ex-chancellor has no plans to leave the clinic.

Kohl served as chancellor—first in Bonn, and later in Berlin—from 1982 to 1998, but his reputation was tarnished by a party funding scandal. In 2001 Kohl's first wife committed suicide after contracting a rare allergy that forced her to avoid sunlight. Friends say the German leader went into a period of mourning that ended only when he met Richter, who he said "has made me very happy in every way."