Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Virunga Park chief shot

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algerian election: Bouteflika votes in wheelchair

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algeria's media: a mixture of censorship and free speech

Read more

DEBATE

Algeria: What's the Choice? Incumbent Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair

Read more

WEB NEWS

Nigerian web users call for end to violence

Read more

FOCUS

Bitcoin in the US: A monetary revolution?

Read more

ENCORE!

Fast cars and slow trains

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: France's most unpopular president

Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Low turnout in Algerian election tipped to return Bouteflika

    Read more

  • Hundreds still trapped in sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Nobel-winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

    Read more

  • Deadly attack on civilians sheltering in UN base in South Sudan

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Eurostar train delay "chaos"

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton says she is pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

Europe

Merkel book sparks scrutiny over Communist past

©

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2013-05-14

A new book detailing the early political life of Angela Merkel has accused the austerity-driven German chancellor of working as a propagandist for the East German Communist youth movement before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Known today as “The Iron Lady of Europe,” it’s difficult to imagine Angela Merkel peddling propaganda for East Germany’s Communist youth league. But according to a new book, “The First Life of Angela M.,” the conservative chancellor served as a senior member of several Communist organisations before reunification in 1990.

Published in Germany on Monday, the book by journalists Günther Lachmann and Ralf Georg Reuth is unlikely to prove easy reading for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party (CDU), which is preparing for September’s general election – in which Merkel is seeking a third term in office.

According to the book, 58-year-old Merkel was active in various political organisations while studying for her doctorate and working as a researcher at university. The list includes the Free German Youth movement (the FDJ, the official youth wing of the German Democratic Republic, or GDR), the major workers’ union, and the Society for German-Soviet Friendship.

The First Life of Angela M.

The revelation most likely to cause embarrassment to Merkel is her post as propaganda functionary at the FDJ. Until now, Merkel had only mentioned her duties as “culture functionary” at the youth wing.

‘Falling back on memories’

The book also portrays Merkel as a symbol of anti-reunification following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The woman who boasts today of an economically triumphant unified Germany, it says, would have preferred in 1989 to see the GDR remain an independent and socialist state, reborn as the German Federal Republic.

Merkel’s political rivals have been quick to press the chancellor on the accusations, which have been widely publicised in the German press. On Monday Merkel denied the claims, saying that she never mentioned certain things because “nobody ever asked” her.

“I can only fall back on my memories,” she said. “If something else turns up, then I can live with it. What is important to me is that I never kept anything secret.”

CDU state parliament leader Mike Mohring, a fellow conservative, defended Merkel on Monday, telling reporters she “never went too far” in her work for the FDJ when he was questioned over any potential links Merkel could have had with Stasi intelligence services and the regime itself.

But for specialists of East German political history, the chancellor’s involvement with the FDJ and other youth outfits is far from surprising. “Being a member of these organisations was almost obligatory for a young science student hoping to make a career for themselves in East Germany,” Stefan Wolle, head of science at the GDR Museum in Berlin, explained to German news magazine Focus.

For Wolle, Merkel’s upbringing should be seen as testament to her strength in the political sphere. As the daughter of a pastor in a strictly anti-religious environment, Merkel was faced with an immediate handicap, Wolle explained. The fact that she succeeded within Communist regime affiliated groups can only be a positive thing, he said.

 

Date created : 2013-05-14

  • GERMANY-AFGHANISTAN

    Angela Merkel makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

    Read more

  • FRANCE - GERMANY

    Is the Franco-German union heading for divorce?

    Read more

  • GERMANY - RUSSIA

    Merkel pressures Putin on NGOs in Russia

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)