Copies of "Legacy – the Kohl Transcripts," a book containing recordings of conversations with former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, are on display in a book store in Berlin. (Paul Zinken/European Pressphoto Agency)

A German book with the title “Legacy – the Kohl Transcripts” has made headlines before even being unveiled on Wednesday.

The book, consisting of interviews with former chancellor Helmut Kohl, will enrich the world’s collection of political insults. It alleges that Kohl took a shot at one of his successors, Angela Merkel, accusing her of being unable to “eat with a knife and fork" – an apparent reference to her more humble East German upbringing.

Merkel wasn't the only German leader apparently targeted. "He is a big liar," Kohl reportedly said of former president Christian Wulff. "And he is also a dead duck with lots of bad luck.”

The interview tapes have been subject to a legal struggle for years, and, according to some interpretations of a 2013 court verdict, the publication of the book is illegal. However, excerpts were already printed in this week’s edition of Der Spiegel.

While Kohl’s remarks were probably never meant to be published, other political insults made in the past certainly meant to find an international echo. Insulting other politicians might not even necessarily be a bad idea, according to a 2008 op-ed by Joseph Tartakovsky:

The well-turned insult is a necessary and salutary force in politics, a spicy seasoning in an old, force-fed dish. It's a check on pomposity, proof of democratic vitality, a relief from endless electioneering, and a show of intelligence and moderation. The dull and the bigoted are rarely witty.

Proof of democratic vitality? Well, not always. Here are 11 political insults hurled by world leaders and politicians.


Last year, Australian opposition politician Mark Latham accused this former Australian Prime Minister of having been  "quite truthfully, ... a bastard" and went on to call him/ her a ''once-in-a-century egomaniac."


Tony Abbott


Julia Gillard

(Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

Kevin Rudd


After the Italian parliamentary elections in 2013, Germany’s former finance minister and then-candidate for the Chancellor’s office Peer Steinbrueck, compared this Italian politician to a clown.

Mario Monti
Enrico Letta
Silvio Berlusconi


In 2011, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called this international leader “a liar” while speaking to Barack Obama.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
German Chancellor Angela Merkel


In June, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia used a slang word that roughly translate as "d---head" to refer to this world leader.

(AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Government Press Service)

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev


Russian President Vladimir Putin


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko


In 2005, British Prime Minister David Cameron targeted this person by saying that "[he/she] was the future once.”

U.S President George W. Bush
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad


Samantha Power – who currently serves as the United States Ambassador to the U.N. – called another famous American politician a “monster” in 2008. “You just look at [him/ her] and think, ‘Ergh,’” she said. Whom did she refer to?

(Photo by Jeff Daly/Invision/AP)

Hillary Clinton

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

John McCain

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

George W. Bush


In 2009, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy allegedly described this European leader as “perhaps not very intelligent.”

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero
Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou


In 1975, former British Member of Parliament Jonathan Aitken had to apologize for having criticized this politician with the sentence: “[He/ She] probably thinks Sinai is the plural of sinus.”

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Former United States President Gerald Ford
Former British Prime Minister John Major


In 2013, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called this politician the “grand chief of devils.”


North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

(AP Photo/SANA, File)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama


In August, an unidentified policy department spokesman at the North Korean defense commission called this politician a “wolf donning the mask of sheep.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
French President Francois Hollande


Former French President Charles de Gaulle once said: "When I am right, I get angry. He gets angry when he is wrong. We are angry at each other much of the time."

(AP Photo/Staff/Putnam)

Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill

(AP Photo/File)

Former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt

(AP Photo)

Former Soviet Union Leader Joseph Stalin

Your score: 0 / 11