Former Chancellor Angela Merkel: Back from oblivion

Former Chancellor Angela Merkel: Back from oblivion


A phantom is going around. It was spotted out shopping the other day. And in West Berlin’s Schöneberg neighborhood, there’s supposed to be an apartment there. But then again in Mitte, where it is at home. It is the phantom that everyone knows, that has accompanied everyone for years: Angela Merkel.

Yes, yes, she is still there. Or is she back? The “star” did a title with her. A mischievous one. That fits. She knows how effective it is. And she can calculate them. Angela Merkel, the physicist. started her political career as a press spokeswoman during the “Democratic Awakening”, later in the GDR government under Lothar de Maiziere. That’s why she can’t be quoted verbatim in “Stern”. So what she wants to communicate becomes a matter of interpretation. As with results in physics.

Physics and politics: force times distance through time is performance. Your achievements are currently being discussed, sometimes in public, sometimes behind closed doors, rarely positively. Nuclear, army, Putin – wherever you look, she has to worry about her legacy of 16 years as chancellor. For Merkel, this means that she must ensure that things are more positive than they are at present.

It’s time to show yourself. The former chancellor, who also chaired Germany’s CDU for 18 years, held back for a long time after taking office. The few pictures of her that existed, privately strolling through Florence, semi-officially in the British Embassy, ​​where she signed the Queen’s book of condolences – that should have to be enough. It was enough for her. Distance was her new closeness.

Admiration for the Queen

Although with the Queen, that had to be. The public was allowed to see that, and probably should, because it was more than just a duty. It was the small moment of the private in the big public. They both admired each other. One of her last visits as chancellor took Merkel to Elisabeth II, who had also wished for it. Just as she probably would have wished for “Angie”, as she was called in English in Germany in her good times, as Prime Minister. Better Angie than Maggie. And all the other prime ministers that the Queen experienced during Merkel’s time as chancellor.

The return of Angela Merkel is now evidently taking place in stages, according to plan. Merkel-like, which means: she tests, she weighs up, she tries out experimental setups. The first major speech after December 8, 2021, the day she left the Chancellery, was on June 1 to say goodbye to DGB boss Reiner Hoffmann. In and of itself it was full of messages.

Powerless against Putin

The first message: the victory of the moderate. And the moderate. Hoffmann is a social democrat. And she gave a eulogy for him. Everyone got that right. The second part of the message: their condemnation of the Russian war of aggression as “barbaric”. A word to remember.

Merkel, who has repeatedly tried over the years to moderate between the West and Vladimir Putin, whose language she speaks, has since repeatedly made it clear that his behavior is not her defeat. Because she followed her style according to reason, while he, on the other hand, lost himself in the irrational. You just have to get it right. And then it was like that, as she now says to “Spiegel”: “I no longer had the strength to assert myself, because everyone knew: It will be gone in the fall.” Power gave way to powerlessness, logically. According to her reading.

I no longer had the strength to assert myself because everyone knew that she would be gone in the fall.

Angela Merkel on how to deal with Vladimir Putin at the end of her term.

She writes, we read in “Stern”, on her book, delves deeply into the past, which somehow doesn’t want to go away after all. Merkel doesn’t want to leave anything to chance, it seems. Although she is a physicist, she has become more and more a politician over the years. So she knows that the sentence that history should judge her chancellorship sounds good, but it’s no longer true.

History is made, one way or the other. History is made, one way or another. Merkel is now writing down her version together with her longtime confidante Beate Baumann, now her press spokeswoman. The facts. The backgrounds. The considerations. There is no shortage of topics. By far not just everything to do with Ukraine or Nord Stream. A lot comes together in 16 years. For them, everything depends on how it is put together. She prefers to do it herself.

Merkel has not yet appeared in person this November. But the phantom is everywhere, wherever lessons for the future are at stake. Because someone from your past, for example, is now leading your CDU, Friedrich Merz. She always wanted to prevent that.

Angela Merkel during her last visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2021.
© via REUTERS / Photo: Reuters/Guido Bergmann

What he, in turn, cannot prevent is the memory associated with her return: the CDU still placed the chancellor under her. She. As a fixed star. And in the old days not everything that was was bad. Is that history now? yes, hers That alone hurts Merz.

But also with the fact that the “Stern” can report how she is in contact with her successor in the Chancellery, with Olaf Scholz: even in good contact. They have always worked well together, Scholz is quoted as saying, “it will continue to be so”. And the chancellor is – a social democrat. Chessmen stand in front of Merkel’s desk in the Bundestag office. That suits her.

Angela Merkel reflected in her power. Where others from her heyday admit political mistakes, especially the Federal President, she wants to shape her image with explanations. Through transfigurations, as some say. Without saying it like that.

Wolfgang Schäuble, the grand old man of the Union, demonstrates once again how to say that. When asked about it, he names Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt and Helmut Kohl as great chancellors. “Whether Ms. Merkel will be classified among the great chancellors is perhaps too early to make a conclusive assessment.”

Maybe after her book, which should be finished in 2023? Then the sentence would be a warning. Because Merkel is no longer a phantom. And phantom is another word for mirage.

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