Twenty years on, Merkel recalls life in communist East Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel offered a rare personal insight into her upbringing in communist East Germany and recalled the "unforgettable" joy of reunification, 20 years ago to the day.

Updated: Oct 03, 2010, 16:52 PM IST

Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel today
offered a rare personal insight into her upbringing in
communist East Germany and recalled the "unforgettable" joy of
reunification, 20 years ago to the day.

In a four-page interview in Germany`s popular Bild am
Sonntag, Merkel, 56, now considered the world`s most powerful
woman, said without the fall of the Berlin Wall she might have
remained "a straightforward scientist."

"I still remember, it was a wonderfully warm spring day
in Berlin," said Merkel, a trained physicist, recalling
October 3, 1990, when the treaty merging the capitalist West
Germany and communist East Germany came into effect.

"In the afternoon, I went for a walk with my husband ...
through the Brandenburg Gate. And I will never forget the
night before, the amazing atmosphere in front of the Bundestag
and the fireworks at midnight to celebrate reunification."

She said she had no ambitions at that time to be
chancellor, but vowed to campaign for a seat in parliament.

At one point in the interview, the usually reserved
chancellor appeared to get carried away with her reminiscing,
saying: "My God, I can`t believe I`m telling you all this."

"Suddenly I could really do everything that I had before
only visualised. For example, I had always dreamed about going
to the United States as a pensioner -- and that came true much
earlier."

East Germans were generally denied the right to travel to
the West until they retired.

Merkel said she "always had the feeling in East Germany
that I could not achieve the limits of my potential." That was
"an especially important change" that came about with
reunification, added the chancellor.

Nevertheless, despite the constraints of life under
communism, "it is certainly true to say that it was not
boring," she said.

"We read, we went for lovely journeys in Eastern Europe
... Life in East Germany was arduous, regimented and limited,
but we tried to make something of it," she said.

With hundreds of thousands of fellow Germans, Merkel
today will take part in celebrations marking two decades since
reunification with street parties in the northern city of
Bremen.

PTI