Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl dies at 87

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Former chancellor Helmut Kohl sits on his wheelchair before the start of an event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of German chemicals company BASF at its headquarter in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, western Germany, on April 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND (Photo credit should read DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images)

German statesman Helmut Kohl, the architect of German reunification after the end of the Cold War, has died, his Christian Democratic Union party announced with a memorial message Friday. He was 87.

Kohl served as chancellor for 16 years — from 1982 to 1998 — and was Germany’s longest-serving leader since 1945.

He worked tirelessly for the reunification of West and East Germany, the countries separated in the ashes of World War II.

Kohl was born in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany, an industrial port city in what is now the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

He began working in the CDU in 1947. He served in the Rhineland-Palatinate legislature from 1959 to 1976, and served as minister-president of the same state from 1969 to 1976.

He was CDU chairman from 1973 to 1998. He was a member of the Bundestag, West German’s lower house of parliament from 1976 to 1990.

Kohl became chancellor of West Germany from 1982 and 1990 and became chancellor of Germany after reunification.