The lavish military farewell that moved Angela Merkel: red roses, torches and punk music

A bouquet of red roses and the music of Nina Hagen marked the farewell given by the German army to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who in a week will leave his position and who opted for a musical goodbye as unconventional as his leadership style has been.

The night parade of soldiers carrying torches, the “Zapfenstreich” or “Retreat”, reflected in the courtyard of the Defense Ministry the “end of the Merkel era”. His 16 years in power will end next Wednesday, with the inauguration of the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, the vice chancellor of his last grand coalition.

Angela Merkel witnessed the military parade surrounded by the Defense authorities of her country (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch) (FABRIZIO BENSCH /)
Torches installed in the courtyard of the Berlin Ministry of Defense marked the night (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch)
The torches installed in the courtyard of the Berlin Ministry of Defense marked the night (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch) (FABRIZIO BENSCH /)

“I want to thank all those who have faced the pandemic with all their strength,” he said, addressing medical personnel and soldiers. He then criticized, in what will surely be his last speech as chancellor, “those who deny scientific evidence and spread hatred.”

Merkel, who will have been 5,860 days in her post – ten days less than the patriarch Helmut Kohl, record of permanence in power -, went from the rigor of that last message to the ironic tone in the musical and fidelity to the origins.

Hundreds of uniformed men paraded in front of the outgoing Chancellor (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch)
Hundreds of uniformed men paraded in front of the outgoing Chancellor (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch) (FABRIZIO BENSCH /)

Sitting next to Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader listened with knowing smiles “Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen” – “You forgot the color film” – by Nina Hagen. The ex-punk queen premiered that song in 1974, the lyrics of which reproached a boyfriend -Micha- who only took black and white photos of her because he forgot the color film.

Hagen was then, like Merkel, a citizen of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Two years later, After moving to the western side, the singer gave her piece and her life a punk twist.

The military band performed three songs chosen especially for Merkel (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch)
The military band performed three songs chosen especially for Merkel (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch) (FABRIZIO BENSCH /)
Merkel smiles surrounded by Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and one of Germany's top military authorities, Inspector General Eberhard Zorn (Odd Andersen / Pool via REUTERS)
Merkel smiles surrounded by Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and one of Germany’s top military authorities, Inspector General Eberhard Zorn (Odd Andersen / Pool via REUTERS) (POOL /)

The question remains whether Merkel, like other East Germans, was already listening to Hagen’s success from the other side of the Wall. “Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen” was “a hit from my youth”, “also coming from the GDR”, the Chancellor limited herself to explaining, in a previous appearance before the media.

The next piece was “Für mich soll’s rote Rose regnen” – “Red roses will rain for me” -. A ballad of the great lady from the German song Hildegard Knef, woman with a deep voice who, as an actress, caused a scandal in 1951 with a fleeting nude in a German film – “Die Sünderin”, “The Sinner” -.

Completed your selection the 18th century religious song, “Grosse Gott, wir loben dich” – “Lord, we praise you” – presumably alluding to her past as the daughter of the Protestant pastor Horst Kasner.

Red roses were another topic of the ceremony in Berlin (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch)
Red roses were another topic of the ceremony in Berlin (REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch) (FABRIZIO BENSCH /)

The highest military honor

The “Zapfenstreich” is the highest military honor, intended to dismiss senior officials in Germany and is reserved for chancellors, federal presidents, defense ministers or top military officers.

(REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
(REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch) (FABRIZIO BENSCH/)
Angela Merkel delivered a speech in which she thanked those who worked against the pandemic and harshly criticized its deniers (Odd Andersen / Pool via REUTERS)
Angela Merkel delivered a speech thanking those who worked against the pandemic and harshly criticizing its deniers (Odd Andersen / Pool via REUTERS) (POOL /)

It dates from 1838 and was consolidated in Prussian times, but its survival is not without controversy, since Adolf Hitler adopted it and some continue to identify the torchlight parade with Nazism.

Despite this, the ceremony has accompanied the farewell of successive leaders of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). Each of them has imprinted their personal stamp on the choice of musical pieces to be performed by the band, between the military marches and the national anthem.

The ceremony caused an impact in the world, since it is reminiscent of both the Prussian era and the rigidity of the most authoritarian German regimes, but it is very traditional in the country (REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke)
The ceremony caused an impact in the world, since it is reminiscent of both the Prussian era and the rigidity of the most authoritarian German regimes, but it is very traditional in the country (REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke) (HANNIBAL HANSCHKE /)
Merkel's salute to the troops (REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke)
Merkel’s salute to the troops (REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke) (HANNIBAL HANSCHKE /)

Del “My Way” Schröder al Scorpions de Von der Leyen

The selection of honorees has often been peppered with ironies. The social democrat Gerhard Schröder, chose for his farewell, in 2005, the “My Way”, a piece very consistent with the personality of a politician who always wanted to mark his own path.

Merkel will leave power on December 8, when Olaf Scholz, her successor, is officially elected by parliament (Odd Andersen / Pool via REUTERS)
Merkel will leave power on December 8, when Olaf Scholz, her successor, is officially elected by parliament (Odd Andersen / Pool via REUTERS) (POOL /)

The conservative Ursula von der Leyen said goodbye in 2019 as Defense Minister, before going on to chair the European Commission (EC), to the rhythm of the “Wind of Changes” from “Scorpions”.

The honor of the military farewell was also given to the Bavarian Social Christian Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who in 2011 left Defense for the scandal a plagiarism in his doctorate and who chose the “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. President Christian Wulff, who stepped down on suspicion of corruption in 2012, opted for Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow”.

By Gemma Casadevall / With information from EFE, video and photos from Reuters

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Reference-www.infobae.com

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