Chancellor of Germany
22 November 2005
President Horst Köhler
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Preceded by Gerhard Schröder
Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Minister
17 November 1994 – 26 October 1998
Chancellor Helmut Kohl
Preceded by Klaus Töpfer
Succeeded by Jürgen Trittin
Women and Youth Minister
18 January 1991 – 17 November 1994
Preceded by Hannelore Rönsch
Succeeded by Claudia Nolte
17 July 1954 (age 54)
Hamburg, West Germany
Political party CDU
Alma mater University of Leipzig
Angela Merkel was born as Angela Dorothea Kasner in Hamburg, as the daughter of
Horst Kasner (b. 6 August 1926 in Berlin-Pankow), a Lutheran pastor and his wife,
Herlind (b. 8 July 1928 in Elbing as Herlind Jentzsch), a teacher of English and Latin.
Her mother is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Her grandparents
on her mother's side lived in Elbing in East Prussia; one of them had Polish origin. She
has a brother, Marcus (born 7 July 1957), and a sister, Irene (b. 19 August 1964).
Merkel's father studied Theology in Heidelberg and, afterwards, in Hamburg. In 1954 her
father received a pastorship at the church in Quitzow near Perleberg in Brandenburg, and
the family moved to Templin. Thus Merkel grew up in the countryside 80 km (50 miles)
north of Berlin, in the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR). Gerd Langguth, a
former senior member of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union states in a book that the
family's ability to travel freely from East to West Germany, as well as their possession of
two automobiles, leads to the conclusion that Merkel's father had a 'sympathetic'
relationship with the communist regime, since such freedom and perquisites for a
Christian pastor and his family would have been otherwise impossible in East Germany.
Like most pupils, Merkel was a member of the official, socialist-led youth movement
Free German Youth (FDJ). Later she became a member of the district board and secretary
for "Agitprop" (agitation and propaganda) at the Academy of Sciences in that
organisation. However, she did not take part in the secular coming of age ceremony
Jugendweihe, which was common in East Germany, and was confirmed instead.
Merkel was educated in Templin and at the University of Leipzig, where she studied
physics from 1973 to 1978. Merkel worked and studied at the Central Institute for
Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof from 1978 to 1990.
Angela Merkel speaks Russian fluently, and even earned a statewide prize for her
proficiency. After being awarded a doctorate (Dr. rer. nat.) based on a doctoral thesis on
quantum chemistry she worked in research.
In 1989, Merkel got involved in the growing democracy movement after the fall of the
Berlin Wall, joining the new party Democratic Awakening. Following the first (and only)
democratic election of the East German state, she became the deputy spokesperson of the
new pre-unification caretaker government under Lothar de Maizière.