Former Chancellor and CDU Chairwoman Angela Merkel justified her controversial open stance at the beginning of the refugee crisis in 2015 with respect for human dignity.

"Our article one of the Basic Law says: Human dignity is inviolable.

And that doesn't just apply to Germans," she says in the documentary "Angela Merkel - Im Lauf der Zeit" by filmmaker Torsten Körner, which was broadcast on Arte on Tuesday evening and will also be shown on ARD next Sunday evening.

"I don't know whether Article 1 of the Basic Law is sentimentalism.

I reject that,” emphasized Merkel in the interview recorded in the Chancellery on December 6, 2021, two days before the traffic light government of SPD Chancellor Olaf Scholz was sworn in.

Rather, the article is "born from a deep experience and has something to do with our overall image of humanity".

Merkel expressed surprise "that this is repeatedly questioned".

She also emphasizes: "Incidentally, it was also a very big and general feeling in Germany."

But at the same time they saw this emergency situation and tackled it.

The many mayors, the many volunteers,” says Merkel.

"And that's why I didn't feel alone at all."

"I would have hoped for more justice in the distribution"

In view of the influx of tens of thousands of refugees from Syria, among others, the then Chancellor did not close the German borders in 2015 and repeatedly underlined her conviction that Germany would master the situation.

She coined the sentence that was heavily criticized by her opponents: "We can do it." Merkel now says about the situation at the time: "It was actually the worsening of a situation that was building up." Many Syrians among the refugees at the time were also entitled to asylum.

In retrospect, Merkel criticizes the disagreement in European refugee policy.

At that time it was clear "that it is a European problem".

She then began very quickly in autumn 2015 to negotiate the refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey.

"I would have hoped for more justice in the distribution, of course," says Merkel now.

"It has remained the open flank of the European Union to this day, that we do not agree on the refugee and migration issues."

Former US President Barack Obama once again paid tribute to Merkel's behavior in the situation at the time.

“It was a risky political decision on her part.

But she was morally right,” he says in the film.

Her actions were an example of what Merkel considered so important morally and ethically that she was willing to risk her office for it.

"That's ultimately what separates leaders from ordinary politicians."