By Joe F. Bodenstein
First Lady Eva Köhler and the German President Horst Köhler (left) at the farewell with his predecesson, President Johannes Rau and his young wife Christina in front of the Bellevue Castle in Berlin.
Berlin (bpb) The business and finance expert Horst Köhler is the 9th President of Germany. On July 1, 2004, the 61-year old Köhler was sworn in at the Reichstag in Berlin by the President of the German Parliament Wolfgang Thierse (SPD). His term of office is 5 years. The new German President, whose last job was the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund in Washingon, was the choice of the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU).
His first speech in the presence of the German Chancellor Gerhad Schröder, the cabinet, leaders of all political parties as well as representatives of foreign diplomats and the society, was greeted with much applause.
After joking about the great success of soccer, which comes from Germany, in the serious part of his speech Köhler supported the continuing friendship and cooperation with USA. As for the German people, Köhler appealed to them to have more self-confidence, optimism, harder work and fewer demands. Germany must become again a country more friendly for young families raising children, in order to stop the rising average age of the population. Germany, with its 80 million people, as the most populous country of the European Union, carries a great political and social responsibility. Köhler also endorsed more economic assistance for African countries.
America, in spite of the errors of the US politicians, continues to be a "land of freedom", stressed Köhler. The politician, who was born in the Schlesien (eastern part of Germany, now part of southern Poland) stressed the need of good relations and partnership with the neighboring countries. His first trips abroad will be to Poland and France.
First Lady Eva Köhler so far has no "job"
Germany's First Lady for the next five years is Eva Köhler. She was born on January 2, 1947, and by profession she is a schoolteacher. She is on leave of absence from teaching, in order to be by the side of her husband in Berlin. From 1998, the family lived in London and Washington.
Eva Köhler is known to be an intelligent and elegant lady. But in the public, she is now known for any social engagements. Up to now, she preferred to stay in the background. On the day when her husband was sworn in, it still was not known which social or charitable causes the will promote as the wife of the present head of state.
The most successful and popular wives of German presidents so far were Dr. Mildred Scheel, the founder of the German Cancer Society, as well as Wilhelmine Lübke, the founder of the German Society for the Aged. The example was Elly Heuss-Knapp, the wife of the first Germany president after the Second World War.
In contrast, the wives of the German presidents Gustav Heinemann, Richard von Weizsäcker, Karl Carstens, Roman Herzog, and Johannes Rau left behind no pioneering social or charitable engagements. The significantly younger wife of Köhler's predecessor, Christina Rau, had even fashion shows at the Bellevue Castle (the offical residence of the German President), at which the display of bare bellies and breasts caused an uproar in the media. She also sent her own daughter on the fashion show runway. But for the Germans in general, this public display more hurt than helped the prestige of the head of state.
Copyright 2004 West Art, Prometheus 93