Pomp, punk and pandemic see Angela Merkel out of office

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One week before she steps aside, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel is being treated to a traditional sendoff Thursday, involving a military ceremony with a brass band playing her choice of music – reported to include a 1970s punk song. The military tattoo in Merkel’s honour will take place at the Defence Ministry rather than in a more public setting, reflecting the constraints and limited guests dictated by the pandemic.

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

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

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

Merkel’s third choice, which raised some eyebrows, is 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.

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

Merkel, who is caretaker chancellor until her successor is sworn in, has not publicly commented on the motivation behind her choice of songs.

Before Thursday evening’s ceremony she is meeting other federal and state leaders to discuss new measures to curb coronavirus infections in Germany.

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