Germany says goodbye to Merkel with red roses and to the rhythm of punk singer Nina Hagen | International

Germany says goodbye to Merkel with red roses and to the rhythm of punk singer Nina Hagen |  International

Parade with torches, military honors and a musical selection that has left the Germans unsettled. The still Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has surprised even her biographers by choosing the soundtrack for her military farewell ceremony, the traditional Großer Zapfenstreich, held this Thursday on the great esplanade of the Ministry of Defense, in Berlin. Merkel, who like all the honorees could request three songs, settled on a 1974 song by punk singer Nina Hagen, a Christian hymn and the best-known ballad by artist Hildegard Knef. In her short speech, Merkel underlined the values ​​of democracy, trust in science and wished “the greatest success” to her successor, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz.

Less than a week before Bundestag deputies elect Scholz chancellor, the Bundeswehr fired Merkel with the highest honor that the German armed forces can bestow on a civilian. The ceremony, which takes place when the federal president, the chancellor or the defense minister leave their positions, takes place at night and includes a colorful parade with torches and various musical pieces, including the national anthem. It is also tradition that the honoree chooses three songs. “The selection shows the chancellor’s wit and humor,” Ursula Widenfeld, one of her biographers, had commented on public television a few hours earlier, who confessed to being surprised by the shortlist.

Merkel delivered a speech of just five minutes in which she quickly reviewed the greatest challenges that the country has faced, including the great recession and the migration crisis of 2015. Dressed in a black coat with a collar raised and gloves, an appropriate outfit for the freezing temperatures of Berlin, the chancellor thanked her collaborators and the Army for organizing the ceremony “in the difficult conditions of the pandemic.” There were just 200 guests in the stands, all wearing masks, including Merkel’s husband, Joachim Sauer, wearing a hat that covered his ears. This time the usual after-reception was not held. The couple left in an official car waving from the window after a scarce 45 minutes of ceremony, after the chancellor was presented with a red rose.

Merkel also thanked citizens for the trust they placed in her over 16 “eventful, many challenging” years. “I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart,” was his last sentence. Following her speech, the Army band performed Merkel’s three requests, beginning with punk singer Nina Hagen’s 1974 hit. The topic, Have you forgotten the color film, is considered a criticism of the communist regime of the GDR in which Merkel lived her childhood and part of her youth. It is a very popular song, of which many Germans know the lyrics.

Merkel did not hum in time to the music, but she was seen shaking her head slightly with a slight smile. He also did it with They should rain red roses on me, a melancholic ballad by Hildegard Knef. The third song, an 18th century Christian hymn titled Holy God, we praise your name, refers to her upbringing as the daughter of a Protestant pastor and her membership in the German Christian Democratic Party, the Cristina Democratic Union (CDU).

The musical selection has generated many comments and all kinds of interpretations from the analysts, who always look for the themes to reflect the personality of the honorees. More conventional were the choices of some of Merkel’s predecessors. Gerhard Schröder chose My wayby Frank Sinatra in 2005. Helmut Kohl asked in 1998 Ode to joyby Beethoven. Ursula von der Leyen, Defense Minister until 2019, was fired by the Army band with the ballad heavy Wind of change, of the Scorpions.

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Merkel’s two modern songs were not in the sheet music file, Lt. Col. Reinhard Kiauka, the conductor of the orchestra, confessed in an interview. There was no version of Nina Hagen’s that could be performed by her musicians and a clarinetist wrote a special arrangement in two days. The song, written by Kurt Kemmler, was a hit in East Germany before Hagen emigrated west and became a world-known punk star. In the lyrics Hagen laments that her boyfriend, Michael, only took a black and white film on a trip to the island of Hiddensee: “You forgot the color film, my Michael, now no one will believe how beautiful this was” .

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