Germany’s military honored outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel with their highest ceremony for a civilian ahead of her successor’s swearing in. After 16 years in office, she is due to be succeeded as chancellor by Social Democrat Olaf Scholz.
Germany's Chancellor Merkel bows out in style [PHOTOS]
Dressed in a simple black coat and black gloves, Europe’s most powerful politician looked sombre, betraying little emotion, as she watched torch-carrying soldiers in full regalia parade through the courtyard of Berlin’s defence ministry.
In a short address Merkel warned that trust was one of the most important ingredients in democracy.
“The last two years of this pandemic have shown how important the trust in politics, science and societal discourse is but also how fragile it can be. Democracy depends on solidarity and trust, including the trust in facts,” she said.
The ceremony, broadcast live on television and hosted by the defense minister, lasted about an hour, rich in military choreography and ritual.
Known as the Grosser Zapfenstreich, or Grand Tattoo, it dates to the 16th century and is the highest honor the military can bestow on civilians. It has been performed as the official farewell to departing chancellors since German reunification.
The event began with a Beethoven military march and ended with Ich bete an die Macht Liebe (I pray to the power of love), a traditional song that has been part of the ceremony since the Napoleonic wars. During this piece the soldiers removed their grey helmets and Merkel briefly smiled at the officer leading the band as the final bars faded.
The military band played three songs chosen by Merkel:
- Großer Gott, wir loben Dich (Holy God, we praise thy name)
- Hildegard Knef’s chanson Für mich soll’s rote Rosen regnen (It should rain red roses for me)
- Nina Hagen’s Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen (You forgot the colour film) – the last pick an GDR pop hit of the 1970s that pays tribute to Merkel’s East German upbringing in a way she has rarely done while in office.
“Now it is up to the next government to find answers to the challenges that lie ahead and shape our future,” Merkel concluded. “For that I wish you, dear Olaf Scholz and the government you will lead, all the best and a lucky hand and much success.”
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