BGH judgment on the controversial book: The neverending dispute over the Kohl quotes

Status: 11/29/2021 5:30 p.m.

It’s about unapproved quotes from former Chancellor Kohl in a book: After seven years of legal dispute, the BGH decided that his widow will not receive any compensation for this. However, the case should not be settled.

By Giggi Deppe, ARD legal editor

One thing is certain: the dispute is still not over. The discussions between the journalist Heribert Schwan and the former Chancellor Helmut Kohl will continue to occupy the courts. But an important part has now been clarified: Helmut Kohl’s widow will not receive any compensation.

Journalist Heribert Schwan thinks that now is the time to make peace. The former chancellor would have wanted it that way too. “When I saw him for the last time, he said to all of us, and I will never forget that: make a contract. He said that literally. And I could imagine that the old Chancellor Helmut Kohl would not please anything and no more happily if we had peace now. “

“Satisfaction cannot be given to the deceased”

But it doesn’t look like it’s over. Because a few questions remain unanswered. Even if the Federal Court of Justice has now decided in principle: There is no money for the publication of unapproved quotations from the former Chancellor in the book “Legacy. The Kohl Protocols.”

Because, as the presiding judge Stephan Seiters explained: Such compensation should only give satisfaction to those whose personal rights have been violated. But not the relatives. “In this respect, the idea of ​​satisfaction is in the foreground. Satisfaction can no longer be procured for a deceased,” said Seiters.

BGH recognizes several misquotations

In some points, however, Kohl’s second wife, Maike Kohl-Richter, also prevailed. The Federal Court of Justice finds that the book is not correct in all quotations. 116 passages from the long interviews with the former chancellor had attacked their lawyers – and with 29 they got right. These are false quotations, says the BGH. The journalist would have put them in the wrong context. For example, he had twisted a comment on the Republicans party into a general statement about right-wing radicalism. And with some other quotes, the lower instance, the Cologne Higher Regional Court, has to clarify again which of them may ultimately be printed.

The Federal Constitutional Court may also have to deal with the matter. Because BGH lawyer Matthias Siegmann, who represents the Kohl widow, thinks: It is not okay that there is no compensation for the relatives in such cases. “We will advise our client to give the Federal Constitutional Court the opportunity to reconsider this case law.”

In other words, after seven years of litigation, the matter is still going on – and there is no end in sight.

(Az. VI ZR 248/18 ua)

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