As her reign nears its end, Brunswick’s Carl Hohenthal recalls the politician he knew long before her 16 years as German Chancellor.
July 1990. A press conference in Berlin. East Germany’s caretaker government—the last of a country that would soon cease to exist—just signed a major natural gas contract with Russia. Prime minister Lothar de Maizière is keen to be the one to break the news to the media. A young woman in a light blue summer dress hands out press releases to the assembled journalists. The prime minister’s deputy spokesperson, she soon has journalists’ undivided attention at the post-announcement Q&A. She answers questions left unanswered by the men on the rostrum. Her name is Angela Merkel. This is how we met. I was there that day as a political correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s premier daily.