Angela Merkel Introduction (01:52)
The German chancellor and world's most powerful woman remains mysterious. This film will delve into her past to understand her goals for Europe's future. She grew up in the former East Germany.
Unusual Childhood (02:46)
Merkel was born in Hamburg to a Lutheran pastor and a teacher. In 1954, the family moved to Templin in East Germany. A schoolmate recalls her as quiet, friendly, and intelligent.
Berlin Wall (02:10)
Merkel's childhood was shaped by Cold War paranoia. Learn about the construction of the barrier between East and West Germany in 1961 and view a clip of President Kennedy's 1963 West Berlin speech.
Free German Youth (02:52)
East Germans rarely discussed politics for fear of the Stasi; Merkel's father disagreed with how socialism was being implemented. Merkel excelled in math and Russian. Clergy children were discriminated against, so her parents had her join the communist youth organization to gain university entrance.
Science Career Path (03:06)
Merkel went to university in Leipzig in 1973 and married fellow physics student Ulrich Merkel. After graduation, she completed a PhD in quantum chemistry in East Berlin and began research at Adlershof—a field with greater intellectual freedom.
Soviet Political Reforms (03:41)
Merkel's marriage failed in the early 1980s and she moved into an East Berlin squat. When Gorbachev began Perestroika in 1985, Merkel's community followed West German news and anticipated a regime change. Discontent grew in East Germany and criticisms were vocalized.
Iron Curtain Opens (02:28)
Learn about events surrounding the Berlin Wall's collapse in 1989. Merkel took advantage of new freedoms to reinvent herself politically.
Early Political Involvement (03:10)
In a 2004 interview, Merkel describes joining Democratic Awakening, a center-right activist group. She developed a moderating role as spokesperson for Alliance for Germany, a coalition campaigning for reunification in the 1990 East German elections.
Gaining a Political Foothold (03:00)
In 1990, the Alliance for Germany won the East German election. France worried about a reunited Germany and created the European Union. Merkel joined the patriarchal CDU led by Helmut Kohl and was appointed Minister of Women’s Issues, Youth and Sports.
Strategic Political Move (02:58)
Kohl named Merkel Environmental Minister; hear how she responded to male intimidation tactics. In 1998, Kohl lost to Gerhard Schröder of the Social Democrats and was involved in a CDU donation scandal. Merkel denounced him publicly and became the party’s first female chair.
Machiavellian Politics (02:22)
Merkel allowed another CDU candidate to challenge for chancellor, planning to take over later. In 2002, she became leader of the CDU opposition. Tony Blair's former chief of staff Jonathan Powell describes her straight forward manner and partisan tactics.
2005 Victory (03:01)
Schröder's advisers worried about Merkel. In a televised debate, she made him appear foolish for berating her. She won the election by 1%; they formed a coalition and she became chancellor. In her first national speech, she reminded Germans of her background.
First Female Chancellor (03:01)
Merkel exhibits a quiet leadership style, using text messaging to communicate with advisers. She lives in a modest apartment with her second husband, a chemistry professor. She is pro-market capitalism, but also favors trade unions, and forms consensuses rather than risking enemies.
Long Term Planning (03:07)
Merkel's step-by-step approach aligns German manufacturing and industry with politics to support steady economic growth. She was reelected in 2009 but her pro-nuclear views came under attack after Fukushima. She announced a nuclear phase out, demonstrating an ability to change position.
Eurozone Financial Crisis (03:35)
Germany was called on to bail out Greece. Merkel faced a dilemma between economic morality and European political unity. Her consensus based response depended on convincing German public opinion; the plan entailed harsh Greek austerity measures.
Leader of Europe (02:00)
Merkel's austerity measures were unpopular in Greece, but the alternative was a failed Euro. She wanted to preserve the EU at all costs, as it represented post-Soviet freedom.
Angela Merkel's Legacy (04:05)
The Eurozone is still in crisis, but hasn't failed. Merkel and David Cameron are negotiating a more competitive and flexible EU treaty. She’s shown that a woman can lead Germany, helped unify the country, and remained committed to the EU.
Credits: The Making of Merkel (00:36)
Credits: The Making of Merkel
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