She was born in Berlin and was christened Johanna Klara Eleonore Renner. Her father was Wilhelm Renner, who headed the employment office at HASAG that developed the successful one-man anti-tank weapon, the Panzerfaust. Later, she chose the portmanteau "Hannelore" to be used as her first name.
In the days following Germany's defeat in World War II, at the age of 12, Hannelore Kohl was raped by Red Army soldiers and subsequently “thrown out of a window like a sack of potatoes by the Russians.” In addition to the obvious psychological impact, the attacks left her with a fractured vertebra and back pain for the rest of her life. In order to help others with similar injuries, in 1983 she founded the Kuratorium ZNS, a foundation that helps those with trauma-induced injuries to the central nervous system, and became its president.
On 5 July 2001, Kohl was found dead at age 68 in her Ludwigshafen home. She had apparently committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills, after years of suffering from what she had claimed to be a very rare and painful photo allergy induced by an earlier penicillin treatment that had forced her to avoid practically all sunlight for years. In 2005, the Kuratorium ZNS was renamed ZNS - Hannelore Kohl Stiftung in her honor.
Kohl's collection of German-style cooking recipes, Kulinarische Reise durch Deutsche Länder (Culinary Journey through German Regions), was published in 1996.
- Nazi history in Leipzig conne-island.de Retrieved March 23, 2010 (German)
- Wife of ex-German chancellor Helmut Kohl 'raped at the age of 12 by Russian soldiers', Daily Mail, June 18, 2011
- Hickley, Catherine (July 11, 2011). "Kohl's Wife Suffered War Rape Trauma, Life in His Large Shadow". Bloomberg.
- "Married to a monster", The Spectator, 28 July 2001
- "German media split by suicide" BBC (12 July 2001). Retrieved 23 March 2011
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