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Merkel memoirs to lift lid on European dynasty

By EARLE GALE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-05-15 09:48
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Former chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel attends a farewell party for a lawmaker in Berlin on Monday as she announced plans to publish her memoirs. BRITTA PEDERSEN / DPA VIA AP

Angela Merkel, arguably one of Germany's most successful and impactful leaders, is putting the finishing touches to her memoirs, which will tell the story of her life, from her childhood in East Germany through her time as a scientist and her 16 years at the helm of a reunited nation.

Merkel, who was often seen as the de facto leader of the European Union during her time in office that ended in 2021, is writing Freedom: Memories 1954-2021 with the help of longtime political adviser Beate Baumann.

Pan Macmillan, the book's publisher in England, said her story has been divided into two parts, reflecting the 69-year-old's time in "two German states — 35 years in the German Democratic Republic, 35 years in reunited Germany", which was made possible by the fall of communism in the eastern portion of the nation that had been divided at the end of World War II and that remained so until 1990.

Merkel said through the book's main publisher, Kiepenheuer &Witsch, that she will use her memoir to ask and answer the question: "What does freedom mean to me?"

She said it is a question that "has occupied me my entire life".

"Freedom, for me, is finding out where my own limits are and pushing myself to those limits," she said. "Freedom, for me, is to never stop learning, to never stand still, to continue moving forward, even after leaving politics."

Her book, which is slated to be around 700 pages long, will be available in November in "over 30 countries", the publisher said, although it did not specify which ones.

Merkel, who became Germany's first female chancellor on Nov 22, 2005, said her memoirs will also reflect upon her many meetings and conversations with the world's most powerful people, and include insights into "how the decisions were made that shaped our times".

During her years in office, Merkel forged closer alliances with Russia and China than many of her predecessors and she also defined her lengthy term by keeping the country's borders open to irregular migrants fleeing wars and persecution, despite the pressure it put on infrastructure.

She is also likely to reflect upon other key events, including the global financial crisis, Europe's debt crisis, and the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Since she stood down as chancellor, Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union, has drifted farther to the right, from the center-right position it occupied during her time, prompting her to occasionally criticize today's leadership.

But Merkel, who Time magazine named its Person of the Year in 2015 and who Forbes magazine named in 2018 as the most powerful woman in the world for a record 14th time, has largely kept a low profile since leaving office.

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