Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sensation! Angela Merkel Was A Teenager!

Around the media and web has appeared a picture of the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel at the beginning of the 1970’s.  She, a teenager, is in a sort of uniform and then a member of a Communist Youth Movement and is actually smiling on parade.  Possibly the presence of the official/officer in charge next to her and looking hard may have had something to do with it.

Although old enough to be her father, there is a touch of sympathy for that situation.  When a teenager not much older and conscripted into the Army, uniformed and paraded, when the Sergeant Major or other said “smile”, I smiled.  Nor did I volunteer for the various humiliations that service entailed. 

Although a volunteer in theory, I doubt that Ms. Merkel was in practice.  If the local party boss suggested you might join, you joined.  On another tack she was said to be 17 years old at the time. 

Personally, I should not like to be judged now on my form or on some of the things I did or believed in my teens.  I really should not have gone to a social evening for the local Guild of Abstaining Youth after a pint or two in the “Marquis of Granby” nearby.

Rehydration was needed after rugger training.  The consequence was not a happy one.  The organiser did not like the jolly atmosphere we tried to bring to the evening.  Now, I fully realise we should have stayed in the pub and left them to it.  It was evident that they did not want to be converted.

There are then the subsequent couple of decades after this picture of her when she was a part of the East German community before its collapse and take over by West Germany.  This was a grim authoritarian regime that brooked no opposition and adhered to an absolute dogma of power and social organisation.

Since then there has been a longer period when those in East Germany have had to march to a different drum and attach themselves to a changed set of ideas.  They were not simply German any more.  They had become “European” and made the change just when the EU was gathering pace and power.

There are to be elections in Germany in the near future.  The German system is complex and can give rise to many possibilities.  Sometimes it is relatively predictable but at present there are many uncertainties.  These arise from the situations not just in EU organisation and reach but the whole economic basis resting on the Euro currency union.

For a long time there has been the assumption and expectation that Germany can somehow maintain good control over its own affairs and influence others to a degree that allows it not so much a governing but at least a presiding role in European affairs. 

This may well be a main element in the structure of Ms. Merkel’s idea structure and her inheritance of top down social and economic organisation may owe much to the Prussian heritage embedded in the former East German Communism.  But the world may have changed too much too quickly for this to continue.

If we are to criticise and judge her sensibly then we need to look very hard at the way she operates, her essential thinking on the way things should be done on what should be done when and by whom.  Then see how this works within her party and whether her party can continue in this form.

It is possible that this time is past and there is a need for a rapid reordering and repositioning of the German government in the face of the ongoing crisis and the threats to Germany as much as the rest of Europe.  It may be that Europe is no longer Germany and Germany is no longer the heart of Europe.

In the meantime the UK media will continue its obsession with whether the proposed new England football kit is too like that the German one when Ms. Merkel was a teenager on parade.

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