Pomp and punk as Germany's Angela Merkel gets military tribute

Germany's outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel
Germany's outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel Copyright Credit: AFP
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A song by East German-born punk singer Nina Hagen was among those requested by the outgoing Chancellor as she was treated to a traditional send-off.


One week before she steps aside, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel was treated to a traditional send-off on Thursday.

It involved a military ceremony with a brass band playing her choice of music, which included “You Forgot The Colour Film" by East German-born punk singer Nina Hagen.

In it, the singer recounts a young woman's lament that her boyfriend failed to take colour pictures of their beach holiday.

Hagen, like Merkel, grew up in East Germany but emigrated to the West in 1976 after clashing with the communist authorities.

Merkel, who is caretaker chancellor until her successor is sworn in, explained that the song was “a highlight of my youth, which is known to have taken place in the GDR.”

East Germany was officially known as the German Democratic Republic.

The military tattoo in Merkel's honour took place at the defence ministry rather than in a more public setting, reflecting the constraints and limited guests dictated by the pandemic.

Merkel also chose an 18th-century Christian hymn “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”, perhaps a natural choice for the daughter of a Protestant pastor, and “It Shall Rain Red Roses for Me” by German singer Hildegard Knef.

Olaf Scholz is set to replace Merkel next week after the 67-year-old opted to step down after 16 years as chancellor.

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