Celebratory mood at the Berlin Bendlerblock. The Chancellor's military farewell, hosted by the Bundeswehr, turned out to be less than expected after 16 years in office. It took place under the special conditions of the pandemic that shaped Merkel's last months in office and the country. Nevertheless, the guest list corresponded to a look back at more than a decade and a half of German politics - and many had set out to Berlin to pay Angela Merkel the honor of being grateful: former federal ministers such as Philipp Rösler (FDP), long-term companions such as Thomas de Maizière, former SPD chairwoman like Franz Müntefering and Andrea Nahles, but also the current executive cabinet and designated federal ministers like Marco Buschmann from the FDP (justice) or the Greens Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock (economy,Foreign). Merkel seemed relaxed, she wasn't cheerful. The worries that weighed on her until the last hours of her term of office weigh too heavily for that.

Peter Carstens

Political correspondent in Berlin

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The program, militarily precise, was scheduled to start at 7:23 p.m., and so it happened.

In her short speech, the Chancellor recalled those who are fighting for lives in hospitals at this hour, fighting the pandemic as nurses, doctors, soldiers or other helpers.

The office of Chancellor, said Merkel, “politically and humanely demanded and fulfilled at the same time”.

She gave two pieces of advice: she wanted to “encourage people to always see the world through the eyes of others” and to do the work “with happiness in the heart”.

More cool than warm

This was followed by a German Schlager West and a German Schlager Ost - songs by famous Berliners from Hüben und Drüben, which the Chancellor had wished for when she left. Hildegard Knef sang “For me it should rain red roses” in 1968, and the song contains a foresighted conclusion of Merkel's tenure: “I should encounter all miracles / The world should change / And keep its worries to itself”. Somewhat more practical is the song “You forgot the color film” from 1974. On a trip to the Baltic Sea island of Hiddensee, Nina Hagen complained to her friend Michael: “Now nobody believes us how beautiful it was here / Everything blue and white and green and later no longer true ”.

However, there was no singing in the court of the Ministry of Defense, the staff music corps of the Army, specializing in marching music, had rehearsed instrumental versions of the hits. In addition, in an older tradition, “Great God, we praise you” was played. A strange magic song between the firm kick of the advancing guard battalion with torches and “Present the rifle!” Shouts.

Merkel never showed any particular inclination towards the Bundeswehr, rather perceived it as something that was inevitable.

The farewell at the Bendlerblock was also more cool than warm.

That was due to the weather, three degrees above zero, but also to the Corona requirements.

When the tattoo was over and the national anthem was played, the Chancellor got into her official car and drove away.

A few more days, then she will be released from the duty and joy of her long chancellorship.

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