Primary Sources

Telephone Call from President George H. W. Bush to Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany


Following World War II, Germany was divided into two countries, with West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) becoming integrated into Western Europe and East Germany (German Democratic Republic) falling behind the Iron Curtain, with the Soviet Union in control. After the historic and spontaneous dismantling of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, East and West Germany were on the verge of reuniting. The reactions in Europe and the Soviet Union were often contradictory and there were many challenges and problems along the path of that reunification. While at this moment reunification was only a possibility, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (and later chancellor of the reunited Germany) and U.S. President George H. W. Bush engaged in ongoing conversations about the situation in Germany. prior. 11 months after the Wall came down, on October 3, 1990, the two countries were officially reunited. In this telephone conversation, initiated by Bush, both men expressed a sense of relief, excitement, and mutual respect. This document points to the involvement and support of the United States in the unraveling of communism in Eastern Europe.


George H.W. Bush, conversation with Helmut Kohl, 3 October 1990, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

The President: Helmut! I am sitting in a meeting with members of our Congress and am calling at the end of this historic day to wish you well.

Chancellor Kohl: Things are going very, very well. I am in Berlin. There were one million people here last night at the very spot where the Wall used to stand--and where President [Ronald] Reagan called on Mr. [Mikhail] Gorbachev to open this gate. Words can't describe the feeling. The weather is very nice and warm, fortunately. There were large crowds of young people. Eighty percent were under thirty. It was fantastic. A short time ago there was enormous applause when our President said that our gratitude was owed especially to our Allied friends and above all our American friends. I share that view. When the parliamentary declaration is made, it will say that all American Presidents from Harry Truman all the way up to our friend George Bush made this possible. I would like to thank you again for all your support for us.

The President: It was covered widely on American television. America is proud to have stood with you through these negotiations, and we identify with the hopes of the German people. I have to run to another meeting, but I wanted you to know what pride we have in standing by the German people.

Chancellor Kohl: Thank you very much.

The President: Good-bye, my friend.

Chancellor Kohl: Tell your Congressmen good wishes and thanks.

How to Cite this Source

George H. W. Bush and Helmut Kohl, "Telephone Call from President George H. W. Bush to Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany." Making the History of 1989, #532.

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