Biography and Timeline
Angela Merkel (pron. AHN-gay-luh MEHRK-ell),
Germany’s first female chancellor, was born Angela Dorothea Kasner in Hamburg on July 17, 1954. That same year, her father Horst, a Lutheran pastor, accepted a pastorship at a church in the village of Quitzow in East Germany. Her mother Herlind (nee Jentzsch) was a teacher of Latin and English. In 1957 the family moved to Templin, about 50 miles north of Berlin. Angela Merkel, along with her brother Marcus and her sister Irene (both born in East Germany), thus grew up in the socialist German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik).
In 1977 Angela Kasner married Ulrich Merkel, a physics student she had met during an exchange trip to Moscow and Leningrad, but they divorced in 1982. Her second husband is chemistry professor Joachim Sauer. They have no children, but Sauer has two grown sons from a previous marriage.
After the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Merkel got involved in politics, getting elected to the East German caretaker government. Following reunification in 1990, she was elected to the Bundestag (German parliament). Later, Chancellor Helmut Kohl took Merkel under his wing and she rose rapidly in the CDU party. After the CDU/CSU candidate (Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria) failed to defeat Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) in the 2002 election, Merkel became the leader of the opposition in the Bundestag. In the September 2005 national election, the CDU/CSU won by a slight margin, but neither the SPD (Schröder) nor the CDU (Merkel) had a majority. In the end, after protracted negotiations, Merkel became chancellor under a “Grand Coalition” (CDU-SPD) deal. She was sworn into office on Nov. 22, 2005.
Angela Merkel Timeline
1954: Born in Hamburg on July 17.
1973: Graduates from high school in Templin with her Abitur (diploma).
1973-1978: Physics studies at the University of Leipzig, graduates with a Diplomphysikerin degree.
1977: Marries Ulrich Merkel. They divorce in 1982.
1978-1990: Member of the academic staff at the Zentralinstitut für physikalische Chemie at the Akademie der Wissenschaften (Academy of Sciences) in East Berlin (Berlin-Adlershof).
1984: Meets Joachim Sauer during an exchange student visit in Russia. They will marry in 1998.
1986: Receives her doctorate degree, travels to West Germany for several days, a rare privilege for a citizen of East Germany.
1989: Becomes a member of the Demokratischer Aufbruch (Democratic Awakening) party.
1990: Joins the CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands) party.
1990: Deputy government spokeswoman of the East German de Maizière government.
1990-present: Member of parliament (Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages)
1991-1994: Federal Minister for Women and Youth (Bundesministerin für Frauen und Jugend)
1993-2000: Chairwoman of the CDU Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern)
1994-1998: Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Bundesministerin für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit)
1998: Marries longtime companion Joachim Sauer.
1999-1998: Deputy Chairwoman of the CDU (Stellvertretende Vorsitzende der CDU Deutschlands).
1998-2000: Deputy Secretary of the CDU (Generalsekretärin der CDU)
2000-present: Chairwoman of the CDU (Vorsitzende der CDU)
2005-present: Chairwoman of the CDU/CSU faction in parliament (Vorsitzende der CDU/CSU-Fraktion im Bundestag)
2005: Sworn in as Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzlerin) on November 22. The CDU forms a coalition government with the SPD (Social Democrats).
2009: Re-elected in the September 27th election. The CDU obtains the largest share of the votes and forms a coalition government with the CSU and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).
2009: On November 3, following her re-election as chancellor in September and just days before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (Nov. 9), Merkel makes a historic speech to both houses of the US Congress. She is only the second German chancellor to address Congress since Konrad Adenauer in 1957 (to separate sessions), and only the eighth foreign dignitary ever to do so. Merkel called on the US to join international efforts against global warming. Before her speech on Capitol Hill, Merkel met with President Barack Obama at the White House. The US president thanked Merkel for her country’s military support in Afghanistan.
- VIDEO 1: C-SPAN coverage of speech (YouTube).
- VIDEO 2: German Language Version (DW-TV) - Note: The English stops after about the first 2 minutes.
- MORE: Full Text of Merkel’s address to the US Congress - in German and English.
On the Web
- Angela Merkel (Wikipedia, in English)
- Angela Merkel (Wikipedia, auf Deutsch)
- Die Bundeskanzlerin - zur Person (in German and English)
- Biographie: Angela Merkel (DHM, in German)
- Angela Merkel - Homepage (official site, in German)
- C-SPAN video of Merkel’s Nov. 3, 2009 address to the US Congress (YouTube)
- Full Text of Merkel’s address to the US Congress (Nov. 3, 2009) - in English and German. Merkel addressed a joint session of US Congress, as the second German chancellor and the 8th foreign dignitary to do so. > 2009 Speech
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