Merkel memoirs to be published in November

Merkel memoirs to be published in November

Shafaq News/ Angela Merkel will release her long-awaited memoirs in November under the title Freedom: Memories 1954-2021, sketching her journey from life behind the Berlin Wall to the top echelons of power “more intimately than ever before”.

Merkel, whose image in Germany and abroad has been tarnished by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will turn 70 in July. She notes that her life can be neatly cleaved into experiences in “two German states – 35 years in the German Democratic Republic, 35 years in reunited Germany”, according to the book’s English publisher, Pan Macmillan.

The 700-page tome was written with Merkel’s longtime political adviser Beate Baumann. It covers Merkel’s childhood in East Germany, improbable political rise after the collapse of the communist regime, and 16 years as chancellor.

Merkel said in a statement from her publishers that the book would ask and answer the question: “What does freedom mean to me?”, which she said “has occupied me my entire life”.

“Freedom, for me, is finding out where my own limits are and pushing myself to those limits,” she said. “Freedom, for me, is to never stop learning, to never stand still, to continue moving forward, even after leaving politics.

The book promises to offer “recollections and insights from her meetings and conversations with the world’s most powerful people,” often as the only woman in the room, while recounting “significant national, European and international turning points … how the decisions were made that shaped our times”.

The memoirs, whose hardback edition is priced at £35 or €42, will go on sale worldwide on 26 November, in time to catch the December holiday wave of book sales. The German audiobook will be read by the acclaimed actor Corinna Harfouch, who also grew up in the communist east.

Since leaving politics two and a half years ago, Merkel’s strong popularity and status as a global icon of liberal values have taken a heavy knock over allegations that she weakened Germany by increasing its dependence on Russia and on China during her long tenure.

Critics say she has failed to reckon with the damaging impact of those policies in the ensuing years despite repeated public appearances to discuss her legacy.

Roderich Kiesewetter, a longtime Merkel ally from her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and a defence affairs expert, accused her of making fateful mistakes in continuing to pursue the Nord Stream gas pipeline project with Russia even after its 2014 annexation of Crimea.

“Merkel has her accomplishments but we have got to come to terms with her closeness with Russia,” he said on public television last month.

If the former chancellor’s recent public statements are anything to go by, however, readers should not expect apologies in Freedom.

Merkel has reportedly spent much of her time since handing over the keys to the chancellery to Olaf Scholz in December 2021 holed up with Baumann writing – a task that has provided a useful excuse to skip potentially awkward events such as last week’s congress of her CDU, now run by her frequent nemesis Friedrich Merz.

Merz has since broken with Merkel’s centrist course and steered the party rightward, particularly on migration – an issue on which Merkel, during the 2015-16 refugee influx, won widespread admiration as a compassionate conservative for keeping Germany’s borders open.

Leading CDU officials have accused Merkel of helping to fuel the rise of the far-right AfD party with her welcoming stance toward migrants – another issue sure to get a thorough airing in her memoir.

Merkel’s disillusionment with her own party can be seen in another item in her diary on the day of her book announcement: on Tuesday evening she will deliver a keynote speech in tribute to Jürgen Trittin, a Green party stalwart and her leftist predecessor as environment minister, as he leaves the political stage after four decades in politics.

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