Hannelore Kohl

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Hannelore Kohl in her early forties, 1976

Hannelore Kohl (7 March 1933 in Berlin – 5 July 2001) was the first wife of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. She met him for the first time at a prom in Ludwigshafen, Germany, when she was 15 years old.

She was born in Berlin and was christened Johanna Klara Eleonore Renner. Her father Wilhelm Renner, who joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in 1933 was Wehrwirtschaftsführer at Hugo Schneider AG and also headed the employment office that developed the anti-tank weapon Panzerfaust.[1] 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.”[2][3][4] In addition to the obvious psychological impact, the attacks left her with a fractured vertebra and back pain for the rest of her life.[5] 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, Hannelore 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. Hannelore's biographer, Heribert Schwan, cited "medical experts to support his theory that the bizarre light allergy of her later years may have been a psychosomatic reaction to the suppressed traumas of the war."[5] 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.


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