July 17, 1954
She was raised in the small, country side town of Templin, roughly 50 miles north of Berlin, in the German Democratic Republic (also known as East Germany). Living in the GDR meant that she was a part of the socialist-led Free German Youth movement. Through this organization she showed her leadership skills at a young age becoming a district board representative and secretary of Agitprop – the agitation and propaganda campaign of the youth movement. Merkel did not however, “take part in the secular coming of age ceremony Jugendweihe” * which was very popular in East Germany.
how did she became a lider
Angela Merkel is now into her third term in office, and it has a historical dimension – not just because she is at the xenith of her power, but because Konrad Adenauer is the only chancellor before her to have had such a strong standing after a similar amount of time in office. Helmut Kohl and Helmut Schmidt came close, but neither were in as strong a position as she is at such a late stage in their chancellorships. She will go down in German and European history as a leader with a huge amount of staying power at the very least and as someone with some historic achievements to her name at best – particularly if she manages to save the euro.
It is indicative of her strong position that she has yet to declare whether she will run for a fourth term. The fact she has not ruled it out has certainly quashed earlier rumours that she might not see through her third term. It would certainly not be Merkel’s style to leave the stage early. What she will do afterwards remains pure speculation. She has refused to be drawn, though roles as European council president or the secretary general of the UN have been mooted, not least because they will be available in 2017.
She is sometimes referred to as the de-facto leader of Europe or “the decider” and has often had the chance to cement that role during the euro crisis, not least this week over Greece. As far as Athens is concerned, Merkel holds the purse strings, and that will be even more acutely felt if the left-wing Syriza party, with its promises to abandon debt and ignore austerity measures, wins the upcoming election. Merkel has issued a thinly veiled warning that the eurozone could survive without Greece. Her insistence on imposing German-style austerity measures and reforms on the rest of Europe rather than giving in to constant pressures to flood the markets with ever more money won her few friends, particularly in southern Europe, but the steady hand she showed at a time of crisis saw her win praise and secured her huge support in Germany. Without the crisis she might have been just like any other leader. Instead, the crisis has come to define her tenure.
Merkel’s declaration that if the euro fails, Europe fails best expresses her commitment to the European project. It also underlines the historical opportunity she still faces as it is far too early to make a verdict on her policies. First, she has to save the euro, the plight of which is far from over. Eight years into his tenure as chancellor, Konrad Adenauer’s biggest challenge was the Treaty of Rome. For Helmut Kohl, it was German unification and Germany’s integration into Europe. The European project seems more endangered than at any other juncture and, therefore, is her biggest challenge. It will be largely up to Merkel whether it fails or succeeds, which is why she has placed Europe firmly at the centre of the agenda of her third term