(GUARDIAN) — He did much to shape late 20th-century history as a towering figurehead of German unification and one of the key architects of the euro. But former German chancellor Helmut Kohl has now become almost completely isolated from the outside world, including from his only grandchild, with his two sons accusing his much younger wife of “imprisoning him”.

Walter and Peter Kohl have publicly accused Maike Kohl-Richter of controlling their father’s life to the extent that she writes his letters, decides who is allowed to see him, blocks access to some of the former German leader’s once closest confidantes – including his former chauffeur and photographer – and chooses to keep him “like a prisoner” in the bungalow they share.

The revelations of the family drama that are gripping Germany like the plot of a Thomas Mann novel, are laid out in the new 27-page foreword of a book about Hannelore, their mother, who took her own life in 2001 after suffering from a crippling light allergy.

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