…and ruthless career technocrat
Angela Merkel is often depicted by the Western media as a boring, mousey and indecisive physicist obsessed by rules and the Euro ideal. In fact, she is none of these things. Her unusual and at times murky past suggests that she is driven by the ideal of technocratic power, has no firm belief in anything, and is ruthlessly disloyal when it suits her. Her role in the former East Germany has been cleaned up by those around her. But today, The Slog puts some flesh on the real character behind the Chancellor’s image.
Angela Dorothea Merkel sits in the Berlin Chancellery today, the mistress of Europe. An extraordinary combination of bizarre events and her own driven will have put her there. But we really do not know enough about this woman to whom, it seems, the citizens of 27 countries have handed the leadership of Europe without a single vote being cast. The fact is, she has been underestimated by every male boss she has had during her remorseless rise to power….and each one has paid for that with his career. There is far, far more to Frau Doktor Merkel than most people realise.
Angela Merkel’s father Horst Kasner died last September aged 85. Some secrets surrounding this enigmatic man have died with him, but quite a few things are a matter of public record. Born in 1926, he served on the Russian front during World Ward II and, at the age of 19 in 1943, was taken prisoner.
How long he remained in Russian hands – and when he got back to Germany – is not recorded. But somewhere along the way, he became a clergyman, and married a Polish woman, Herlind Jentzsch, in 1952. She gave birth to Angela in 1954, and then three weeks later Kasner did what almost no other German had ever done: he moved from West Germany to the DDR. By choice, he became an Osti.
Sources protective of Angela Merkel claim that her father was merely posted there by the Lutheran clergy, but others deny this. He was known at the time as ‘Red Kasner’, and given a privileged position in East Germany. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Merkel Senior openly criticised West Germany. In 1989, he opposed reunification. The family had a smart apartment and access to two cars. Almost uniquely, Horst Kasner was allowed by the Party to travel to the West, so loyal was he felt to be.
All of this did young Angela no harm at all. Despite widespread harassment of the Christian Church in the DDR, she was educated – and pushed forward – like the daughter of a senior Party member.
German biographers have talked of “near panic” setting in when former Kasner neighbours in Templin are asked about the family – and especially its eldest child. One told me – on a promise of strict anonymity:
“Horst was a nice man, very friendly, all the children know him, he was a pastor. But he had influence, all the adults are knowing this. And Angela quickly became an enthusiasm for the regime, and persuading young people to be loyal.”
Although learning Russian was obligatory in East Germany, the young Angela excelled in the language, and undertook regular visits to Moscow and Leningrad. Russian officials today confirm that she speaks Russian “fluently with a very slight accent”. Putin, as it happens, speaks German with no accent at all: he spent fifteen years as a KGB agent liaising with the DDR’s notorious security agency, the Stasi. Horst Kasner was friendly with prominent Stasi alumni, and belonged to the “Christian Peace Conference”, a communist camouflage organisation funded by the KGB in Moscow. Another member of the CPC, Albrecht Schoenherr, had supplied him with the job as manager of the pastoral college.
Merkel is not, as is so often claimed, a physicist: she is a chemist specialising in the atomic physical nature of chemicals – a subject at the cutting edge of scientific development. Shortly after graduating in 1976, on a trip to Leningrad she met a fellow scientist, Ulrich Merkel, and they were married the following year. While Merkel completed a doctorate, her husband paid the rent on (and renovated) the flat they shared. The doctorate complete, Angela left her husband, taking the only thing of any value in the flat – a fridge – with her.
Ulrich had not the slightest inkling that his wife was about to leave: she hired a small van one morning and took the fridge. There was no discussion and no note. She divorced him in 1982. Her first husband has never remarried, and lives quietly in Frankfurt.
Angela meanwhile went from strength to strength in her career as a valued scientist and loyal DDR citizen. By now, however, Merkel’s fascination with power and political communication was becoming a big part of her life. Her specialism was youth propaganda: she became politically involved in the Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth), the politicised youth East German dictatorship. She rose quickly within the organisation, becoming Secretary of Political Education – the most important role in the organisation.
Today, Merkel insists that her job was menial, involving “organising theatre tickets and the like”. But this is simply untrue: she was an ambitious political activist. School-friends from her childhood town Templin remember the German leader still as a “Marxist loyal to the Party line”, in the furtherance of which she held a formal position within her class. A student who knows Merkel from the Karl Marx University in Leipzig, remembers a “convinced communist who brought her class-mates into line”.
We have no idea what the ambitious young Communist really thought when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, but she wasn’t slow to respond to events. Within three weeks, she joined the Demokratischer Aufbruch (Democratic Revival), a Party modelled on the Centre-Right CDU in the West. She immediately took over the same function as she’d had in the old FDJ – redefined in democracy-speak as “Press spokesperson”.
It was soon revealed that her boss in the DA, Wolfgang Schnur, had been a Stasi collaborator. Although Merkel denies this today, most of those there at the time are sure she leaked this information to the press. She took over his job.
In the first and only democratic East German elections that followed, leader Lothar de Maizière became President. (Merkel’s father Horst was a close friend of Lothar’s father – himself a senior Stasi accolyte). The 1990 Reunification saw him get a Cabinet post under Helmut Kohl, with a job as his Deputy for protege Angela. Two months later, he too was suddenly found to have ‘connections’ with the Stasi. He resigned in disgrace….and within two months Merkel was in the Cabinet. De Maizière intimates still maintain today that he was ‘fitted up’ based on very flimsy evidence. Merkel denies any involvement in the affair.
By now, the rapidly rising young Osti – ‘Mein Madchen’ – my girl, as Kohl patronisingly described her – had a new partner, Joachim Sauer. Like her, he too is an extremely eminent chemist working in the sought-after field of atomic and sub-atomic physical chemistry. From the moment their relationship began, Angela Merkel adopted her husband’s very pro-American views: the nation she had been brought up to see as The Enemy rapidly became her inspiration.In December 1998, they married. A few months earlier, her mentor Helmut Kohl had lost the election, and Merkel called publicly for the ‘old leaders’ of Germany to give way. In the media furore that followed, she stepped into the vacuum, and became the CDU’s leader.
Joachim Sauer’s scientific specialism, and his influence on the German Chancellor, are both highly significant. He too was a prominent Osti: in 1977, he joined the Academy of Sciences Central Institute of Physical Chemistry in East Berlin, one of the leading seats of learning in the former DDR. The record is silent on when he met Merkel, but he divorced his first wife in the same year that the German Chancellor got self-awarded custody of her first husband’s fridge.
Shortly after German reunification, Sauer became the Deputy Technical Director of BIOSYM Technologies, San Diego USA. He remained an advisor for BIOSYM until 2002. The company makes practical use of biopharmaceutical design, and was by then (1990) a strong player in what is mysteriously described as “the broader field of scientific information services”. One of the main buyers and supporters of this technology at the time was the Pentagon. Says a source in Washington:
“There has always been a sense that Sauer was a former East German Scientist who was, in the post Soviet collapse period, an important guy to debrief. He wasn’t a spy, but he was the best in his field. It’s not dissimilar to what the Pentagon did with Nazi rocket scientists after 1945.”
During October 2011, The Slog posted that the US had decided ‘to bet the farm on Germany as the key European ally’. I also posted last year about the number of Bourse alliances that have been proposed and signed between Germany and the US since Merkel came to power six years ago. The Berlin/Washington relationship became very strong after her accession, driven by her husband, and a ‘good fit’ relationship with George W. Bush and his close advisers.
The latter part of Merkel’s meteoric career progression in well known. But it does no harm to observe her behaviour. Although firmly on the CDU’s Right at the time, when the German electorate decided in 2005 that it didn’t like any of the Parties that much, Merkel was quick to sup with the Devil, forming a ‘Grand Coalition’ with the SPD and CSU that made her Chancellor. She was also quick to shaft the SPD in the 2009 elections, accusing Schroder of being anti-American…a slur designed to make him look out of date, whereas she had embraced the free-market ideal and could take Germany to greater heights. With the help of FDP support, she won.
The FDP is not a eurosceptic Party, but it has consistently opposed deeper involvement of German money in the solution to ezone problems. Together, Merkel and her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble have consistently made and broken promises about the issue to their FDP partner. (Merkel also shafted Schauble with the same yardbrush she used to get rid of Kohl in 1998, when he too was an ‘old leader’. Now she needs his advice, he is back in place again).
Angela Merkel doesn’t like Nicolas Sarkozy, and appears to have been influential in persuading the US that they should drop him as a close ally. This is today seen by the State Department as extremely sound advice. She detests the media nickname ‘Merkozy’, primarily because she sees herself as totally in command. She is in fact much closer to Mario Draghi, a former Goldman Sachs chief now in charge at the ECB. Her view of him as a great technocrat was also influenced by Joachim Sauer, who is a big fan. And although Draghi’s clever establishment of an ECB independence dismayed her late last year, she sees him very much as ‘correct’ in the sense of paying debts, and tight central fiscal management.
Effectively, the US Government and its key agencies now have all the major posts in the EU/IMF/ECB leadership occupied by ‘our people’. Last year The Slog posted about the Strauss-Kahn affair, and how secret American support for Christine Lagarde had ensured her completely undeserved appointment as Managing Director of the IMF. In turn, of course, there are American-trained bankers running Italy and Greece. And as of Friday late afternoon, the Germans have a plan on the table to remove Greek sovereignty.
But perhaps most important of all, the European Union is headed by a former Communist control freak, with a penchant for ruthless disloyalty in order to get what she wants.
The single-minded objective of American ezone diplomacy for the time being is to do whatever it takes to firewall the US against catastrophic ClubMed defaults. They have a very obvious ally in Angela Merkel, but one is left wondering whether they fully appreciate the profundity of her power-mania. She is a technocrat who believes in nothing except ‘good order’ and obeying the rules….so long as she is making the rules. There is little evidence from her career history that she sees the rules as applying to her. There is also no evidence at all that she is either libertarian or democratic: and as such, therefore, she is the perfect Fuhrerine for the European Union.