Angela Merkel

Biography of Angela Merkel, PhD in Quantum Chemistry and Chancellor of Germany for over 12 years, has been the most influential woman in Europe in the 21st century.

Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation.

Helmut Kohl, the famous Chancellor of Germany, knew how to appreciate the great potential of the young Angela Merkel, and she tutored her political career.

He incorporated her into his cabinet. first as “Minister for Women and Youth” and later as “Minister for the Environment and Nuclear Safety“.

Family and early years of Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel was born on July 17, 1954 in Hamburg, the great port city of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Her father, Horst Kasner (1926-2011), was an Evangelical Lutheran pastor.

Her mother, Herlind Jentzsch, had been born in Danzig, Poland, in 1928. She was the daughter of the politician Jentzsch, and granddaughter of Emil Drange, City Clerk of Elbing, Poland. Herlind Jentzsch was a teacher of English and Latin.

Angela Kasner Jentzsch has two younger brothers: Marcus (July 7, 1957) and Irene (August 19, 1964).

Less than two months after Angela’s birth, Mr. Kasner was appointed pastor at the church in Quitzow, a rural town in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Templin
Templin is in the federal state of Brandenburg. Its population does not exceed 20,000 inhabitants. Credit: Wikipedia.

The change of residence, from a country of liberties to another where communist totalitarianism prevailed, was a sacrifice made by the Rev. Kesner moved by his religious faith.

For comfort, the family went to live in the city of Templin, also located in Communist Germany (GDR), some 80 km north of Berlin.

Angela’s university studies and marriage

Angela attended high school in Templin and excelled in math and the Russian language.

In 1973, she began studying Physics at the University of Leipzig. She finished them in 1978.

Her father carried out a religious work that was not appreciated by the communist authorities. This made the whole family permanently in the crosshairs of the dreaded Stasi.

The mistrust of the secret police towards the Kasners was enough for Angela’s mother to be prohibited from teaching.

Because of this, Angela joined the Free German Youth, one of the mass organizations led by the Party of Socialist Unification of Germany.

In 1977, Angela married a physicist Ulrich Merkel, a fellow student at the Faculty, almost her same age, 23 years old.

The newlyweds went to Leipzig, where they got a tiny 20-square-meter apartment.

A year later, when they both finished their studies, they moved to East Berlin.

There in Berlin, Angela Merkel worked as a scientific collaborator at the “Central Institute of Physical Chemistry” of the GDR Academy of Sciences.

Young Angela Merkel
Photograph of Angela Merkel in 1993. Credit: El País 2012

Surely, due to her family relationship, Angela never rose from the rank of “laboratory operator“. She received a modest salary and lived very economically, together with her husband, Ulrich Merkel.

The couple had no children and they divorced five years later, in 1982. However, Angela has always kept her last name as her first husband.

In 1986 Angela received her PhD with a thesis on Quantum Chemistry entitled “Influence of the spatial correlation of the bimolecular reaction rate of elemental reactions on dense media“. She obtained a rating of “outstanding“.

In those years, quantum theory was in its infancy and it was much more complicated than now to understand it a little. This provides a guideline to appreciate Angela Merkel’s brilliant intelligence, tenacity and work capacity.

Angela Merkel’s academic tutor was Professor of Chemistry, Professor Joachim Sauer, divorced and father of two children.

Angela Merkel and Joachim Sauer began a romantic relationship, which finally ended in nuptials on December 30, 1998. The couple has no children.

Angela Merkel’s beginnings in politics

After the fall of the “Berlin Wall” in 1989, Angela Merkel joined the growing democratic movement in Germany and joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) political party.

Angela Merkel in 1990, with the President of the GDR Council of Ministers. Credit: Wikipedia

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was led by Helmut Kohl (1930-2017), chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1982.

It did not take long for Helmut Kohl to realize the potential of the young Angela Merkel, and he tutored her political career. Soon after, he incorporated her into his cabinet as “Minister for Women and Youth“.

Subsequently, he named her “Minister for the Environment and Nuclear Safety“.

Helmut Kohl
Helmut Kohl, led the Christian Democratic Union party between 1973 and 1998. Credit: an.wikipedia.org

Angela Merkel period 1998-2005

In 1998 Angela Merkel was appointed Secretary General of the CDU. She was the first woman to occupy this important political post.

The CDU unanimously elected Angela Merkel as candidate for the chancellery, in the 2000 elections. On April 10 she was elected President of the CDU.

In 2002, she became the leader of the conservative opposition in the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house.

Before 2004, Angela Merkel had opposed Turkey’s entry into the European Union as a full member, fearing that an increase in Turkish immigration to Germany would put a burden on the country and an increase in Islamic influence within The EU.

However, later, she undertook to respect the commitments made by the Union institutions.

Angela Merkel period 2005-2013

In 2005, the CDU won the elections in Germany, obtaining only one point of advantage over the Social Democrats (SPD).

After three weeks of intense negotiations, an agreement was reached on October 10, 2005, by which Merkel would assume the chancellery. In return, the SPD would obtain more ministerial portfolios. The final document to create the grand coalition was closed on November 11, 2005.

On November 22, 2005, the Bundestag elected Merkel Chancellor of Germany with the most votes from the CDU-SPD grand coalition.

She succeeded Gerhard Schroeder, who was chancellor for seven years.

Angela Merkel was the first former citizen of the German Democratic Republic elected to lead reunified Germany.

On November 27, 2006, she was again elected president of the CDU with 93% of the votes.

During the 2007 congress, the CDU defined itself as Christian and center, contradicting itself in several points with its SPD government partners.

  • The CDU defended Christian values: respect for life (not abortion in advanced periods of pregnancy, not cloning, not euthanasia).
  • The family as the foundation of society.
  • Integration of foreigners that emphasizes that they respect and adapt to German culture.
  • They also oppose the minimum wage.
  • They renounce delaying retirement until they are 67 years old.
  • They declare themselves favorable to the strengthening of the transatlantic alliance with North America, as well as an increase in exchanges with Central Asia.
  • Commitment to respect the closure of the country’s nuclear power plants before 2020 as decided by the previous government.

In June 2007, at the end of her term in the EU Presidency, the agreement that gave rise to the Lisbon European Treaty was approved.

At the signing ceremony of the treaty, the President of the European Council recognized that without the intervention of Angela Merkel it would not have been possible to sign the Treaty. For her contribution to this process, Angela Merkel received the Charlemagne Prize.

Angela Merkel’s handling of the 2008-2013 economic crisis was clearly remarkable. By imposing a strong policy of austerity and discipline on Europe, she managed to keep the German economy out of the crisis.

Having chaired the G8 and being President of the European Council, she was the second woman to hold both positions. She was preceded in this by the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher.

Her influence in the European Union and in the decisions that have been taken has been so notorious that she is considered the leader of that entity.

Angela Merkel played a key role in the realization of the Lisbon Treaty and was the driving force behind the Berlin Declaration.

When Angela Merkel was serving half her term as head of the German government, she recorded her highest popularity rating, both in Germany and throughout Europe.

No wonder she was chosen in Germany for a second term in 2009 and for a third in December 2013.

Period since 2013 with Angela Merkel

In the 2013 federal elections, Angela Merkel led the Christian Democratic Union CDU coalition for the third time with the CSU Social Democratic group. German chancellor for a third legislature was invested with the vote of a vast majority of the Bundestag.

Angela Merkel was named the most powerful woman in the world for the seventh time by Forbes magazine, in May 2015.

Four years later, in the 2017 federal election, her party again obtained a relative majority, and after re-editing the CDU’s coalition with the SPD a second time, she was re-elected for another four-year term.

Merkel was re-elected as Federal Chancellor on March 14, 2018 with 364 votes in favor in the first vote.

Until 2018, Angela Merkel was president of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU).

In October 2018, she announced that she was resigning for reelection as CDU leader at the party convention in December 2018 and as chancellor in 2021.

Her government has focused on maintaining German productivity and continuing its economic and political strengthening on the European continent.

As chancellor, Merkel has been in favor of the common establishment of a permanent European army.

In domestic matters, she carried out a reform of the health system in Germany.

Among her main objectives has been the energy development of her country, defending the use of nuclear energy, and promoting programs for the creation of alternative energy sources.

Joaquín Sauer, the husband of Ángela Merkel has always been kept out of the spotlight and out of the press. He does not accompany his wife at international summits or in meetings with high authorities. Rarely does he attend a state banquet in Berlin.

Some journalists have nicknamed him “the Phantom of the Opera” because he makes an appearance every year at the Bayreuth music festival.

Joachim Sauer continues as Professor of Theoretical and Physical Chemistry at the prestigious Humboldt University in Berlin

Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation.

REFERENCES

Wikipedia.

CIDOB website.

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