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Angela Merkel's Years in East Germany Shaped Her Crisis Politics

Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin on July 2
Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin on July 2Photograph by Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

As Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks a third term in German parliamentary elections on Sept. 22, her policies on Europe and the euro have become a primary focus of the campaign. She has spent years grappling with the debt crisis and saving the region’s common currency, clashing with policy makers across the Continent and across the Atlantic in the process. Despite her eight years in office, she can still come off as a bit awkward, a political outsider who grew up under Communism in the former East Germany and worked in a physics lab when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

Merkel’s personality, her views of Europe, and her unique position among post-World War II German leaders are the subject of Angela Merkel: A Chancellorship Forged in Crisis (Bloomberg Press/Wiley) by Bloomberg News reporters Alan Crawford and Tony Czuczka, the first English-language biography that examines her role in Europe’s financial crisis. This excerpt is taken from a chapter on her early years in Templin, a town 50 miles north of Berlin where her father ran a Protestant seminary in the woods on the edge of town.