TIME Person of the Year 2015: Angela Merkel

How captivating is Angela Merkel? Like many others, I’ve been drawn in by her recent presence and stance on welcoming refugees into Germany with open arms. She carries such a beautiful mix of stoic and resolute and yet sympathetic and human. Things get done under her watch and while the NY eve events in Cologne have people questioning her decision-making, I for one stand even more behind her as she boldly navigates these rocky waters. TIME magazine appropriately named her Person of the Year for 2015 and I highly recommend spending 10 minutes reading the feature…

By Karl Vick / Berlin with Simon Shuster
Photograph by Steffen Kugler

Fairy tales are where you find them, but any number seem to begin in the dark German woods where Angela Merkel spent her childhood.

The girl who would grow up to be called the most powerful woman in the world came of age in a glade dappled by the northern sun and shadowed by tall pines.

Her family’s house stood three stories, and the steep rake of its tile roof held an attic window in the shape of a half-open eye. Strangers walked on the paths below, passing residents who often moved at curious gaits. Cries of anguish were sometimes heard. To adults, Waldhof was home to the Lutheran seminary run by Merkel’s father, an isolated compound—“forest court” in English—that hosted students and other short-term visitors while also functioning as a home and workplace for mentally disabled adults. But to a child of 3, Angela’s age when her family arrived, it was a world unto itself, and would remain so until she went to school in the adjoining town of Templin. There, she came to realize that, like the 17 million other residents of East Germany, she actually was living within the walls of a fortress.

Merkel remained a captive for the first 35 years of her life, biding her time. As an adult, she lived in East Berlin, riding an elevated train beside the barricade whose 1961 construction she recalled as the first political memory of her life. When it fell in 1989, she gathered the qualities cultivated as a necessity in the East—patience, blandness, intellectual rigor and an inconspicuous but ferocious drive—and changed not only her life but the course of history.

The year 2015 marked the start of Merkel’s 10th year as Chancellor of a united Germany and the de facto leader of the European Union, the most prosperous joint venture on the planet. By year’s end, she had…


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