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A year with Angela Merkel: 'You're done with power politics'

By Alexander Osang

01 Dec 2022 · 34 min read

Editor's Note

Der Spiegel catches up with the former German chancellor, Angela Merkel, at a time when her legacy—particularly her policy on Russia—is increasingly being questioned.

Her new office looks a lot like her old one, just smaller. It feels a bit like a doll house built especially for Angela Merkel so that she – after 16 years in the Chancellery – doesn’t feel so alien in the austere administrative building at the Brandenburg Gate. The Adenauer painting from Oskar Kokoschka is again hanging behind her desk, but it looks quite a bit bigger because the ceiling is so much lower. The four chess figures that made it over here from the Chancellery also seem to have grown larger. She cut a branch from the Adansonia tree in her old office and has placed it in the window. There are the flags and the sculpture of Kairos, from the Rostock artist Thomas Jastram, standing here in a completely new context, just like Merkel herself. Kairos is a Greek god, the personification of favorable moments. He has long held his protective hand over her.

This used to be the office of ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Before that, back when the Berlin Wall still ran by outside the window, it was used by East German National Education Minister Margot Honecker. When Merkel heard about this for the first time, her reported response was: "Oh, shit."

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