Helmut Kohl and the Europaeum
The recent death of Helmut Kohl, giant of European politics, Chancellor of Germany for 16 years, brings to mind the day his public praise for the Europaeum, the day he graced a special Europaeum celebration event in Bonn, then a Europaeum member and capital of Germany, when he and George Weidenfeld, founder of the Europaeum, were each awarded the University’s highest honour, Senatorships. It was only up close could one confirm just how, literally, Chancellor Kohl was a towering figure (and how firm was his huge handshake !). It was Kohl who helped smooth Bonn’s entry into the Europaeum – the University received two huge Federal grants – one to study European integration. In his address he talked about how the Europaeum could contribute “towards solving the great cultural and social problems of our age”. In the 1997 special ceremony Kohl’s remarks came in the course of the main address at a special ceremony at Bonn University, on 22 May, to elect Lord Weidenfeld, a founding father of the EVROPAEVM, as an Ehrensenator. The Chancellor described Lord Weidenfeld as ‘a man who over his lifetime has built many bridges and continues to do so.’ He noted how Bonn now had the opportunity to become a focal point of European and international cooperation.”It is an investment in the future because the universities are playing an increasing role in the process of European integration,” he says. He went on to support Lord Weidenfeld’s thesis that Europe needed an elite – not with hereditary privileges but “citizens who are prepared to make a greater effort than others and to assume greater responsibilities”. He goes on to praise the EVROPAEVM, for “preventing academics from taking a blinkered view of their specialized fields”. See the full report in our early series of regular Europaeum Newsletters here.