BERLIN (NWN) – Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Germans to confront the hatred at a military ceremony on Thursday, bidding her farewell after 16 years in power.
Merkel was noted for the traditional military music performance and march in front of almost all of the country’s political elite – with the exception of the far-right Alternative for Germany, which was not invited.
“Our democracy also lives on because wherever hatred and violence are seen as legitimate means of pursuing our interests, our tolerance as democrats must find its limit,” reads the speech before the ceremony.
The event, which was held at the Department of Defense rather than in a more public setting due to the restrictions of the pandemic, included a parade and a brass band performing three songs of Merkel’s choice.
The first was You Forgot the Color Film, released in 1974 by East German punk singer Nina Hagen. In it, the singer talks about the complaint of a young woman that her boyfriend was unable to take color photographs of their beach holiday.
Hagen, like Merkel, grew up in East Germany, but emigrated to the West in 1976 after clashing with the authorities of the communist country.
Merkel explained that this song was “the highlight of my youth, which, as you know, took place in the GDR.” East Germany was officially known as the German Democratic Republic.
“By chance (the song) also happens in a region that was in my former constituency” on the Baltic Sea, she added. “So it all fits together.”
Her second choice was the popular chanson of the German singer Hildegard Knef called “It Will Rain Red Roses for Me”. She was presented with a bouquet of flowers.
The last piece chosen by the daughter of a Protestant pastor was the 18th century Christian hymn “Holy God, we praise your name.”
Merkel remains interim chancellor until her successor, Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, is sworn in next week. She wished him and his new center-left government “all the best, good luck and great success.”
The longtime leader also encouraged her audience to “always see the world through different eyes” and work “with joy in their hearts.”
Before Thursday night’s ceremony, she met with other federal and state leaders to agree on new measures to contain the coronavirus infection in Germany.