„La Réunification – C’est Moi“ – Performing Identity in Politics: Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the German Reunion in the Election-Campaigns of the 1990ies

  • Abstract:
    The German reunion in 1990 marks not only a big change for German society, it can also be seen as the turning point in the so far luckless carrier of the German Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl. Within no time he transforms from the unfortunate Chancellor close to resign in 1989 to the worldwide acknowledged „Kanzler der Einheit“ and thus to a Statesman of high reputation. The transforming of this (public) Identity can be traced back by analyzing his Election-Campaign-Spots. In my Essay I want to discuss the pictures provided in the spots of the years in 1990, 1994 and 1998 and ask the question to what extend these pictures, which were not only part of the election-campaigns but are somewhat part of our „collective memory“ (Halbwachs 1991). The question to what extend the use of this pictures, may have influenced, the public identity of Helmut Kohl is up for debate. In this view, Identity reveals itself not only as a concept of self but as a media-generated picture, which is being used to perform the transformation of identity in the limelight of the public. Finally I will put the question to what extend, this example may illuminate the relation between political Identity and public ascription in general.