Germany’s Angela Merkel Bids Farewell as Chancellor

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BERLIN — In a ceremonial army send-off to mark the tip of her 16 years as chancellor, Angela Merkel left Germans with a remaining message on Thursday: Belief each other.

Lower than per week earlier than Ms. Merkel will formally hand over energy to her successor, Olaf Scholz, she obtained her nation’s highest army honors, that includes a standard parade of torch-bearing troopers and a marching band.

In a brief handle, simply hours after she had presided over her final pandemic emergency assembly and introduced a partial lockdown for many who refuse to get vaccinated, Ms. Merkel warned that belief was probably the most essential components in democracy.

“The final two years of this pandemic have proven how essential the belief in politics, science and societal discourse is — but additionally how fragile it may be,” she instructed a small viewers of masked and socially distanced visitors. Democracy, she stated, “is determined by solidarity and belief, together with the belief in info.”

Ms. Merkel recommended vigilance.

“Wherever scientific perception is denied and conspiracy theories and hatred are unfold, we’d like to withstand,” she stated. “Our democracy additionally is determined by the truth that the place hatred and violence are seen as a reliable means to drive via sure pursuits, our tolerance as democrats should discover its limits.”

Ms. Merkel remarked on the symbolic location of the ceremony: The courtyard of the Bendlerblock, a constructing that’s now a part of the protection ministry however was as soon as the headquarters of a resistance group of officers who had carried out the plot towards Adolf Hitler in 1944 and have been executed.

The ceremony, broadcast stay on tv and hosted by the protection minister, lasted about an hour, wealthy in army choreography and ritual. Referred to as the Grosser Zapfenstreich, or Grand Tattoo, it dates to the sixteenth century and is the best honor the army can bestow on civilians. It has been carried out because the official farewell to departing chancellors since German reunification.

The spotlight was the army marching band taking part in three songs picked by the chancellor. Her predecessors, Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schröder, requested for Beethoven and Frank Sinatra, amongst different typical fare. However certainly one of Ms. Merkel’s decisions intrigued many.

There was a Christian hymn — little shock, for the daughter of a Protestant pastor — and a traditional sufficient cabaret track by the German actress and singer Hildegard Knef.

It was Ms. Merkel’s third alternative that set the German Twittersphere alight. The chancellor picked “Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen,” or “You Forgot the Shade Movie,” a Nineteen Seventies hit from the Communist East by Nina Hagen, who later emigrated to the West and have become Germany’s punk rock idol of the Eighties.

Till not too long ago, Ms. Merkel had not often spoken about her East German background. However she was extra forthcoming on Thursday when requested in regards to the track, which tells the story of a pair occurring vacation on an island within the Baltic Sea.

“The track was a spotlight of my youth, which as everybody is aware of befell within the G.D.R.,” Ms. Merkel stated, referring to the German Democratic Republic, the official title of Communist East Germany. “The track got here from the G.D.R., and because it occurs, it additionally takes place in a area that was in my former constituency. And so all of it matches collectively.”

In comparison with her predecessors, Ms. Merkel invited comparatively few visitors, owing to the pandemic. Mr. Scholz was within the crowd, as have been most of the 52 ministers who served in her governments over 4 phrases.

At occasions, there was a touch of emotion within the often stoic chancellor’s face.

“If I stand earlier than you right now, I really feel above all gratefulness and humility,” Ms. Merkel stated. “The 16 years as chancellor have been eventful and sometimes difficult years. They challenged me politically and personally, and on the similar time they all the time fulfilled me.”

Proper on the finish of her speech, the chancellor turned to her successor, Mr. Scholz, a Social Democrat, who had served as her finance minister for the previous 4 years.

“Now it’s as much as the following authorities to seek out solutions to the challenges that lie forward and form our future,” Ms. Merkel stated. “For that I want you, pricey Olaf Scholz and the federal government you’ll lead, all the perfect and a fortunate hand and far success.”

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