The interview with Angela Merkel excerpted below was conducted in 1991, long before she became “Mutti”.
Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this piece from Die Achse des Guten. The translator includes this note:
My impression of what we know now about her is that Günter Gaus saw through her already back then, something most of the German population still cannot see today.
The translated article:
By chance I came across this interview on YouTube from 1991, which Günter Gaus conducted with a young Angela Merkel.
This 45-minute conversation is fascinating in many ways.
First of all, it documents an equally old-fashioned and brilliant interview style that is almost unknown to me as a young person.
Gaus — born in 1929, first head of the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic to the GDR (SPD) and experienced journalist, among others at Spiegel and the Süddeutsche — knows how to get closer to Angela Merkel through sensitive and intelligent questioning techniques and at the same time to lure her out of her reserve with subtle provocations.
All this happens with exquisite linguistic dexterity, which is only broken in a funny way by the fact that he stumbles over the sharp stone while speaking.
Merkel, on the other hand, appears more natural and blunt than we know her today.
Above all, she is much more articulate than in her capacity as Federal Chancellor.
It would be interesting to investigate where their expressiveness has gone over the years.
What is unmistakable, however, is that the then-37-year-old already knew exactly where she was going and her modesty on display should by no means be confused with unpretentiousness.
The most important thing about this interview, however, is that Gaus succeeded in revealing traits of the then-Federal Minister for Women and Youth, which today, after almost 16 years as Federal Chancellor, must be considered official.
In retrospect, parts of the conversation seem almost prophetic.
In the following I would like to reproduce the most important parts of the interview from my point of view, for everyone who does not want to watch the conversation in full.
About Merkel’s self-image as a politician — from 03:59
If you observe how you publicly present yourself as a politician, then you can get the impression — I got the impression — your ongoing search for a specific, specific location within your party is connected with the tactical talent, to hold back wisely and to be functional with ambition.
Is such an assessment of you completely wrong?
What can you agree with? What do you want to contradict?
Well, I’ll disagree with the ‘wise’.
With the restraint — that has something to do with the solid ground again.
Even on unfamiliar terrain, I don’t act in such a way that I trumpet everything I know about other terrain, but rather that I try to get ground under my feet, and that can then have to do with restraint for a while.
In addition, I may be the type of person who first observes his surroundings fairly closely and tries to assess them.
In this respect — a certain reluctance. At certain points, however, I begin to give things about myself that are important to me.
I wouldn’t call it ‘smart’, I would just say it’s vital for my type of person.
And the ambition with the functionality?