Biography of Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel (née Kasner) is an influential European politician and the head of the Federal Government of Germany who became the country's first female Chancellor. Under her leadership, Germany gained economic strength, and she herself became a symbol of stability in Europe and a key figure in addressing the most challenging issues in European politics: from managing the refugee crisis to uniting the continent in the face of disagreements with then-President of the United States, Donald Trump.
"The European Iron Lady," as the media call her, became Chancellor for the fourth time, surpassing Margaret Thatcher's 11-year tenure as Prime Minister. In 2021, Merkel decided not to run for a fifth term, and Olaf Scholz became the new Chancellor of Germany.
Childhood and Youth
The future "defender of Western liberalism" was born on July 17, 1954, in West Germany. When Angela was an infant, her family moved to East Germany after her father, a Lutheran clergyman named Horst Kasner, received a pastorate in Perleberg. He was a Berlin native with Polish ancestry. Angela's mother, Gerlinda Kasner, née Jentzsch, an English and Latin teacher, hailed from the city of Danzig (now the Polish city of Gdańsk).
In 1957, their family moved to the small town of Templin, located 90 kilometers north of Berlin, where they were joined by a son, Markus, and a younger daughter, Irene. Her father was tasked with leading the local pastors' college.
From 1961 to 1973, Angela was a student at a polytechnic secondary school. True to a clergyman's daughter, she was modest and quiet and pleased her family with excellent grades. She excelled particularly in the natural sciences and foreign languages, was a pioneer, a Beatles fan, and an active member of the Free German Youth.
After graduating, she enrolled at the University of Leipzig, choosing the physics department. There, she once again proved to be an outstanding student. She then worked successfully at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of East Germany and earned her doctorate in natural sciences in 1986.
During the historic events of the Berlin Wall's fall, the young scientist joined the ranks of the popular political force "Democratic Awakening," which consisted mainly of church figures. In 1990, she joined the office of the East German government and attended many meetings during the preparation for the accession of the eastern lands. In August, "Democratic Awakening" became part of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
After the reunification of Germany, she became a member of the Bundestag for the CDU. Her high potential was recognized by Helmut Kohl. In forming the new government, he appointed her as the Minister for Women and Youth. She was soon elected as the deputy chairman of the CDU and in 1993 became the party leader in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. A year later, Merkel became the Minister for the Environment.
In 1998, when Kohl lost the elections, Merkel became the CDU Secretary-General. Following a scandal involving the financing of the ruling party that compromised her mentor, she did not defend him but publicly criticized him, displaying integrity that was received with mixed feelings.
In 2000, Kohl's successor, Wolfgang Schäuble, announced his resignation, and she was elected to succeed him, becoming the first female leader of a German party. In 2005, she was chosen as the chairwoman of the CDU/CSU bloc and nominated for the position of Chancellor. As a result of the parliamentary election, she became the country's first female Chancellor. Moreover, at 51, she was the youngest and the first person from East Germany to reach the pinnacle of power.
Subsequently, she repeatedly demonstrated her exceptional political talent. Under her leadership, the German economy withstood a severe pan-European crisis. During the period from 2006 to 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Angela Merkel as the leading figure in its list of the world's most powerful women.
In foreign policy, she aimed to maintain balanced relationships with all partners, but considered cooperation with the United States a priority. She demonstrated determination when making critical decisions, including on issues like Greece's sovereign debt, Brexit, and refugee integration. She established good working relations with Russia, despite earlier criticism of Schröder's overly friendly stance towards Putin.
In 2014, Merkel did not approve of the annexation of Crimea by Russia, supported Western sanctions against Russia, and joined the group working on resolving the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Despite tense relations with Russia, she visited Moscow on the 70th anniversary of the Victory Day to honor the memory of those who liberated the world from Nazism.
In the 2017 parliamentary elections, the CDU/CSU bloc led by the Chancellor secured a decisive victory, even though her reputation had significantly suffered due to the influx of refugees in 2015-2016.
In 1977, during the socialist regime, Angela Merkel married Ulrich Merkel, a physics student. However, after five years of marriage, they separated. She later referred to this marriage as a mistake.
Her second husband became chemistry professor Joachim Sauer. They met in 1981, became a couple later on, and officially tied the knot at the end of 1998. She did not change her surname a second time, which journalists attribute to its appealing sound. The chancellor has no children of her own, but her husband has two sons from a previous marriage.
In 2013, photographs of a nude Merkel, taken in the 1960s, were published online. They did not harm the politician's reputation; in fact, they even boosted her popularity by increasing public interest in her persona. In Germany, nudism is widespread and popular.
In her free time, she enjoys gardening, is an excellent cook, is a passionate football fan and an honorary member of the football club Energie Cottbus, and has a fear of dogs due to an attack she experienced in 1995. Her family is known for their modest lifestyle, owning an apartment and a small country house. The couple spends their vacations in Austria or Italy, renting moderately priced accommodations.
Angela Merkel Now
Already in 2018, Merkel announced that she would not run for a fifth term as Germany's Chancellor and would step down as the leader of the Christian Democratic Union. Political analysts linked her decision to the declining popularity of the CDU and its coalition with the Social Democrats: in parliamentary elections, the parties received 11% fewer votes than in the previous elections in 2013.
On December 3, 2021, Angela Merkel officially left her position as the Chancellor of Germany. The day before her departure, after 16 years in office, she was honored with a ceremony featuring the punk hit "Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen" by Nina Hagen. The new Chancellor of Germany became Social Democrat Olaf Scholz. Merkel says she feels great in retirement and has no plans to return to major politics.
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