Angela Merkel was a 35 year old East German when the wall fell. What does she say now about 1989?
This part of the series on 1989: a glimpse into the East-West divide from Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel, as a former citizen of the GDR, is a symbol of reunification. Not only is she the first female Chancellor, she is the first East German to hold the role in modern Germany. The SPIEGEL magazine has published an interview with her in both German and English in which she discusses 9th November 1989, which she says – despite 30 years of different challenges – “remains a happy moment in German history”.
While she acknowledges that “German unification was shaped by both the East and the West”, in fact “the peaceful revolution and 9th November 1989 was the work of the citizens of the GDR“.
What about the continuing gap in wealth and power between East and West? Merkel acknowledges “we still have a lot of work to do” and that “the different life experiences in eastern and western Germany are a reality. We should talk more about that and try harder to understand each other.”
What would she be doing now if the wall hadn’t fallen? Well, GDR pensioners had the freedom to travel – she would have travelled to America, seen the Rocky Mountains, and driven around listening to Bruce Springsteen. Please, Kanzlerin, go do that.