During the debt crisis Merkel was even more or less the leader of Europe.

angela merkel german chancellor
[Angela Merkel]

Merkel, although being born in Hamburg in 1967, has spent her whole life in Berlin, beginning with her youth. Because her father was a preacher, her family relocated to East Berlin when she was very little, and she was reared with strong Christian views.

She had to keep her head down in eastern Germany, in part because there was no openness when it came to political conversations due to the strong authoritarian rule.

Germany was divided into two countries between the conclusion of World War II and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. West Germany shared democratic and economic principles with the United States and the rest of Europe, while the eastern half was ruled by a communist state associated with the Soviet Union.

Merkel was so non-political at the time that when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, she went to the sauna and then out for a few beers. It implies she wasn't standing outside like so many others, waiting for the wall to be torn down.

She earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Karl Marx University in Leipzig and a PhD in quantum chemistry from the Berlin-Adlershof Academy of Sciences. She worked until 1989, when the Social Democratic Republic of Eastern Germany came to an end, and only then did she enter politics.

There was a fresh upsurge in political movements when Western and Eastern Germany merged. In 1989, she was elected as the spokesperson for a new movement. Alliance for Germany was the name of the organization.

She then joined the CDU (Christian Democratic Union of Germany), where she was backed by Helmut Kohl, Germany's previous long-serving Chancellor. He put her in a variety of jobs, and she excelled in each of them, paving the way for a successful career in politics. But, in the end, Chancellor Kohl had a problem with paying friends with party cash, and Angela Merkel, despite the fact that he openly backed her, asked for his resignation. But, in the end, her plan paid off, and she was elected chairwoman of the CDU in 2000. She was genuinely elected Chancellor of Germany in a general election in 2005.

That was her first federal election victory, although she went on to win four national elections in all.

In 2005, Germany's economy was in shambles, and the country's society was in shambles as well. People in the East were highly dissatisfied with the West, and the West didn't comprehend the East, leaving Germany vulnerable. Merkel thus shifted the party's focus to the middle of society, away from the CDU's traditional conservative base.

For example, she performed out a same-sex marriage. She also made a dramatic U-turn on nuclear policy in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. She had made a significant contribution to modernizing and liberalizing Germany, as well as making it more diverse.

There's a legend in Germany that one of Merkel's economy ministers, Michael Glos, coined the word Mutti since she was so supportive of him within the chancellery, but the phrase gained traction during the refugee crisis, when thousands of migrants saw her as a motherly figure.

In 2015, Europe was hit by a major refugee crisis, with many of the newcomers escaping the Middle East's civil war. The subject caused a schism among European nations. Some people were hesitant to accept a large number of refugees, while others were more willing to help them. Merkel made the choice to keep Germany's borders open, a move that shaped Europe's response to the crisis. It's not that she has a motherly personality, but she is motivated by strong Christian beliefs in mankind that we must aid and support one another, especially in times of distress.

Merkel's position, on the other hand, has been connected to an increase in support for anti-immigrant politicians in Germany in the years afterwards, and her actions have also caused a schism within her own party.

Critics said she didn't grasp the gravity of the situation. Merkel's brave move was praised worldwide, and she was awarded Person of the Year by Time magazine.

When Germans look at their Chancellor, and when the world landscape looks at Merkel, there is a difference in viewpoint. Angela Merkel receives far more criticism from Germans than from international observers. She is frequently chastised in Germany for not having a grand vision for the country, for merely managing it rather than reforming or modernizing it. It's one thing to be appreciated on a national level, but it's quite another to be acclaimed internationally. She appears to be an amazing leader who is lauded for her exceptional crisis management abilities. However, when Germans talk about her in Germany, this is not the predominant subject.

It's hard to discuss Merkel's influence in international politics without mentioning the EU (European Union). Merkel's supporters claim that her efforts were critical in rescuing the single Euro currency during the debt crisis that erupted during the Great Financial Crisis. Her opponents, on the other hand, claim that she failed to give a vision for the troubled region. She was even more or less the head of Europe during the debt crisis since she was obviously brokering the agreements. There were never-ending meetings and debates.

Greece was on the point of being forced out of the Eurozone at the G-20 Summit in Cannes, which would have posed a serious threat to Europe. Merkel was actually battling so hard in parliament in Germany for all of those rescue packages because the German voters did not like them. Germans truly believed they were investing their tax dollars in a country where money is simply spent. As a result, she was emphasizing that if the Euro collapses, Europe would fail, and Germany will suffer greatly as a result. She persuaded Germany that this was the appropriate path to go by repeating it over and over, as well as imposing restrictions on the rescue funds.

To summarize, her greatest legacy will most certainly be that she has maintained the Euro zone and Europe together from a historical viewpoint.

Merkel faced her greatest struggle yet in 2020, when the Coronavirus pandemic struck, after leading Germany through the financial crisis, sovereign debt crisis, and refugee crisis. She acquired a lot of popularity at first since Germany handled the first wave of the COVID crisis admirably, but then came the second wave, which was a major disaster in Germany, as well as the rest of the globe. Then there was the vaccination's late start. As a result, her first quarter of 2021 was not particularly fruitful.

The COVID-19 pandemic was the most serious catastrophe since it once again affected people's lives. She was deeply moved by the fact that she couldn't stop the pandemic from spreading.

Germans would miss her in certain ways because they are accustomed to her presence and her serious approach to politics and dealing with difficult circumstances. What made her even more remarkable was her ability to make agreements with everyone. She is fluent in Russian. She is able to communicate on a personal level with Vladimir Putin, something not many individuals can do, and she is also a close friend of the United States.


Annette Weisbach is the CNBC correspondent in Germany.

Silvia Amaro is a correspondent for CNBC in London.

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