Angela Merkel honored by the German military with a punk rock send-off

During the “Großer Zapfenstreich”, or Big Tattoo ceremony – which has been reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic – members of the armed forces played a song from the 1960s which includes the words “I can’t acquiesce , I can’t manage, I still want to win,” and the song “You Forgot The Color Film,” which was first performed by East German punk artist Nina Hagen, Reuters reported.

Merkel is due to officially step down next week after 16 years in office. She will be replaced by Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, who is expected to be sworn in as chancellor after lawmakers give him the final green light.

In a heartfelt speech at the ceremony in Berlin, Merkel said her rise to power had “challenged” her both politically and personally.

“But at the same time, it was a deeply satisfying position,” she said.

She also thanked frontline workers for their efforts throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and applauded the country’s ability to engage in constructive pro-democracy discourse over the past two years.

”Our democracy lives on the ability to critically engage with ideas and correct its course and it lives on the balance of the respect we have for each other and the concern we have for each other. for others – based on solidarity and trust — and equally confident in facts and convinced that wherever scientific understanding is denied, conspiracy theories are pursued and incitement to hatred is pursued. ”

Merkel also said the pandemic has demonstrated “how important trust in politicians, in science and in public discourse and society is. But also how fragile those things can be.”

She concluded her speech by saying it was now up to the next government “to find answers that challenge us” and wished her successor the best in leading Germany into the future.

Merkel, 67, grew up under communism in East Germany and was trained in science, earning a doctorate in quantum chemistry before entering politics after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She won a seat in the Bundestag, the German parliament, in the first election after reunification.

She navigated Germany and Europe through multiple crises during her tenure and was hailed as a champion of liberal values ​​and a pillar of democratic values ​​by her supporters.

But while Merkel is seen as a bold and accomplished crisis manager, critics say she risked alienating her own party’s conservative CDU voter base by taking centre-left positions on key issues. such as nuclear energy, foreign policy and immigration.

CNN’s Fred Pleitgen contributed to this report.

Diana J. Carleton