Angela Merkel: Germany’s outgoing chancellor honoured at military farewell ceremony with hymns and punk rock tribute

Angela Merkel has bid farewell to 16 years in office at a military ceremony, and urged fellow Germans to stand up to hatred.

The outgoing Chancellor was honoured with a traditional military music performance, featuring an eclectic mix of songs.

In a speech ahead of the ceremony, she said: “Our democracy also lives from the fact that wherever hatred and violence are seen as a legitimate means of pursuing one’s interests, our tolerance as democrats has to find its limit.”

The first piece was You Forgot The Colour Film released in 1974 by East German-born punk singer Nina Hagen, in which the singer recounts a young woman’s lament that her boyfriend failed to take colour pictures of their beach holiday.

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

Mrs Merkel explained that the song was “a highlight of my youth, which is known to have taken place in the GDR”.

Almost all of the country’s political elite were invited to the event – except the far-right Alternative for Germany – which was held in a more public setting, due to COVID restrictions.

Her second song choice was German singer Hildegard Knef’s It Shall Rain Red Roses For Me, after which she was presented with a bouquet of flowers.

The final piece was an 18th-century Christian hymn Holy God, We Praise Thy Name, a fitting finale for the daughter of a Protestant pastor.

Mrs Merkel remains caretaker chancellor until her successor, Olaf Scholz, is sworn in next week.

She said she wished him and his new centre-left government “all the best, good luck and much success”.

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