He was a legend of European statesmanship--and the boss of a secret slush fund

One newspaper headline cried out: FATHER MURDER. Some of Germany's most experienced, cynical politicians broke down and wept. Helmut Kohl, who as Chancellor from 1982 to 1998 unified Germany, was forced to resign as honorary chairman of the opposition Christian Democratic Union, his reputation soiled by a spreading financial scandal. In the end the statesman who counted Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev among his peers was brought down by the likes of a French wheeler-dealer nicknamed Dede the Sardine.

The fall of Kohl took on elements of a Greek tragedy, complete with reversals of fortune and fatal...

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