26 December 2014

The New Yorker: “The Quiet German”

The historian Fritz Stern calls the era of reunification “Germany’s second chance”—a fresh opportunity to be Europe’s preëminent power, after the catastrophic period of aggression that began a century ago. Merkel seems perfectly matched to the demands of this second chance. In a country where passionate rhetoric and macho strutting led to ruin, her analytical detachment and lack of apparent ego are political strengths. On a continent where the fear of Germany is hardly dead, Merkel’s air of ordinariness makes a resurgent Germany seem less threatening.

Merkel’s commitment to a united Europe is not that of an idealist. Rather, it comes from her sense of German interest—a soft form of nationalism that reflects the country’s growing confidence and strength. The historic German problem, which Henry Kissinger described as being too big for Europe, too small for the world, can be overcome only by keeping Europe together. Kurbjuweit said, She needs Europe because—this is hard to say, but it’s true—Europe makes Germany bigger.

George Packer

Great profile of Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, covering a lot, from her childhood and early life in the former East Germany, to the quiet and calculated rise inside the party and the recent years as the most powerful woman leader in the world – including the relationship with Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. What I found most interesting was how her character was influenced by the Communist era and her work as scientist, and how she managed to transform apparent weakness into strength and strategy. Highly recommended.

Angela Merkel portraits by Herlinde Koelbl
Herlinde Koelbl has been photographing Merkel since 1991. Koelbl says that Merkel has always been a bit awkward, but you could feel her strength at the beginning. Credit: Photographs by Herlinde Koelbl / Agentur Focus / Contact Press Images

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