Berlin: One week before she steps aside, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel was treated to a traditional sendoff on Thursday (Friday AEDT), involving a military ceremony with a brass band playing her choice of music — including a 1970s punk song.

The military tattoo in Merkel’s honour took place at the Defence Ministry rather than in a more public setting, reflecting the constraints and limited guests dictated by the pandemic.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reveals her punk side at the Defence Ministry during the Grand Tattoo, a ceremonial send-off for her, in Berlin. Credit:AP

German daily taz reported that Merkel requested three songs, two of which the Staff Band of the Bundeswehr had to scramble to arrange.

One was the 18th century Christian hymn Holy God, we Praise thy Name, perhaps a natural choice for the daughter of a Protestant pastor.

The second was a popular chanson by German singer Hildegard Knef called It Shall Rain Red Roses for Me.

Merkel’s third choice, which raised some eyebrows, was the song You Forgot the Colour Film released in 1974 by East German-born punk singer Nina Hagen.

In it, the singer recounts a young woman’s lament that her boyfriend failed to take colour pictures of their beach holiday.

ARD journalist Annette Dittert described the official performance as “surely the most surreal thing I’ve ever seen”.

Hagen, like Merkel, grew up in East Germany, but emigrated to the West in 1976 after clashing with the communist country’s authorities.

Merkel, who is caretaker chancellor until her successor is sworn in, explained that the song was “a highlight of my youth, which is known to have taken place in the GDR.” East Germany was officially known as the German Democratic Republic.

“By chance, (the song) is also set in a region that was in my former constituency” on the Baltic Sea, she added. “As such, it all fits together.”

Before Thursday evening’s ceremony, she met other federal and state leaders to agree new measures to curb coronavirus infections in Germany.


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