Angela Merkel: "Our tolerance as democrats must find its limit"
Photo: ODD ANDERSEN / AFP
Angela Merkel's 16 years as Federal Chancellor are coming to an end. The Bundeswehr has now adopted them with a big tattoo. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Chancellor spoke about the challenges posed by the pandemic and thanked those who are currently opposing the fourth corona wave and
everything they can to save and protect lives: the doctors, the nurses in the hospitals, the Teams, the helping hands in the Bundeswehr and in the aid organizations
Today in the day she sat with the heads of government of the countries in another corona consultation, said Merkel.
“Now, a few hours later, I can say goodbye to you as Federal Chancellor in this festive setting after 16 years.
Little time, as much as this sequence, what unbelievable time we are currently living in. "
The great tattoo is considered to be the highest honor that the German armed forces can bestow on a civilian.
In addition to federal chancellors, federal presidents and defense ministers are also honored with the custom when they pass.
Its origins go back to the 16th century.
The ceremony always takes place in the evening, it consists of a parade, several pieces of music - including the national anthem - and the march out.
Merkel described the 16 years as Federal Chancellor as "eventful and often very challenging years."
They would have challenged them politically and humanely "and at the same time they always fulfilled me".
The past two years of the pandemic in particular have shown "as if in a magnifying glass", according to Merkel, of the importance of trust in politics, science and social discourse, "but also how fragile that can be."
"Our tolerance as democrats must find its limit"
Democracy lives from the ability to critically debate and correct oneself, from the constant balance of interests and from respect for one another, said Merkel. "It lives from solidarity and trust, incidentally also from trust in facts and from the fact that wherever scientific knowledge is denied, conspiracy theories and agitation are disseminated, contradictions must be voiced". Democracy also lives from the fact that wherever hatred and violence are seen as a legitimate means of pursuing our own interests, “our tolerance as democrats must find its limit”.
Merkel looked back on some of the greatest challenges of her term in office. Domestic challenges have always been reflected in foreign policy action, said the outgoing Chancellor.
Because the financial and economic crisis of 2008 and the many people seeking refuge in 2015 made it clear how much we depend on cooperation across national borders, how indispensable international institutions and multilateral instruments are in order to be able to cope with the great challenges of our time : climate change, digitization, flight and migration
Merkel thanked her political companions in the Federal Government, Bundestag and Bundesrat as well as her closest employees and her family.
She wished her designated successor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the federal government led by him “all the best, all the best, and good luck.” She was convinced, added Merkel, “that we can continue to shape the future well, if we do not go to work with displeasure, with resentment, with pessimism, but, as I said three years ago in a different context, with happiness in our hearts.
At least that's how I always kept it to myself, in my life, in the GDR and even more so and all the more under the conditions of freedom. "
"You forgot the color film"
Even before the ceremony, the outgoing Chancellor gave an insight into the background to her choice of music.
The Nina Hagen song she chose for the ceremony "You forgot the color film" was "a highlight of my youth," said Merkel on Thursday in the press conference after the federal-state consultations on the corona pandemic.
These youths "took place in the GDR, as is well known," and the song "also came from the GDR at that time".
Coincidentally, the song "also plays in a region that was my former constituency," added Merkel.
"In this respect everything fits together."
In the song from 1974, Hagen complains that her boyfriend forgot color films for the camera while on vacation on the Baltic Sea island of Hiddensee, so that all vacation memories can only be admired in black and white.
Today, Hiddensee is in the Bundestag constituency of Vorpommern-Rügen - Vorpommern-Greifswald I, which Merkel had won every year since 1990.
She no longer competed in 2021.
asa / dpa / AFP