Chancellor Angela’s Germany (2017)


In this newspaper interview with Germany’s most widely read news tabloid, Angela Merkel aims for an “alphabetical” definition of Germany. While the headline is about “our country,” Merkel focuses on the friendly and “green” characteristics of the people along with liberal democratic values such as “freedom of the press” and decentralized government, but also importantly its social market economic system.


Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel Spells Out Our Country. What is German?

Dear readers, what is German? There are probably at least as many answers to this question as there are people in our country.

I would like to present a small sample of my answers—my Germany from A to Z:

Article 1 Paragraph 1 of our Basic Law: “Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority,” animal protection, airtight windows, allotment gardens.

Bundeswehr, Bavaria, breakfast egg, bosses, Beware of Dog, Black-Red-Gold, beltway, bread and butter, bratwurst.

Culture of debate, collective bargaining, codetermination, choral singing, craftsmanship, curiosity, curtains, Christmas cookies, church tax.

Dual vocational training, diversity, dialects, doubts, disorder, daring to leave gaps—including in this text.

Energy transition, environmental protection, equal rights, ecumenicism, economic miracle 4.0.

Federalism, folk songs, fourth star, forest, family firm, feather bed.

Germany’s Perpetual Responsibility for the Holocaust, gun club, gossip.

Heimat, home cooking, hiking, hunting mushrooms, Helau and Alaaf, High German.

Independent judiciary, Israel is reason of state, integration, innovation.

Judeo-Christian tradition, jabberer.

Knowledge society.

Local newspaper, Luther Bible, local self-government, law and justice, long weekends.

Made in Germany, mainstream parties, mother tongue, Muslims, migration background, master craftsman certificate, mealtimes.

Nature preservation, national team, neighborhood dispute, noise regulations, nagging questions.

Order, optimism, Oktoberfest, oak tree.

Press freedom, partner in the EU and NATO, precision work, police, parasports, public transportation, punctuality, plum cake, potatoes.

Quality work, quark desserts.

Reformation, representative democracy, refugee aid, roulades with red cabbage.

Security of the state, social market economy, solidarity, sports club, steeple, the seasons, the serious side of life.

Travel, tinkerer, table manners, thermal insulation, train set, trouble, traffic offender register, “Thoughts are Free.”

Unity and Law and Freedom.

Volunteering, volunteer fire department.

Wholegrain bread, Wagner in Bayreuth, wind turbines, working against hatred and discrimination.

EXport champion, eXcellence initiative.

Yeast dough, youth orchestras, youth science competitions.


Dear readers, I could have written so much more. After all, my Germany from A to Z is open and continually evolving. Perhaps I have inspired you to give it some thought, with your family and friends. The outcome is our shared Germany from A to Z, unity in diversity.

With all my best wishes,
Your Angela Merkel

Source: “Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel buchstabiert unser Land. Was ist deutsch?” Bildzeitung, June 22, 2017, p. 2. © Bildzeitung / Axel Springer Verlag. Republished with permission. Available online at:

Translation: Pamela Selwyn

„Kommentar: Wie Angela Merkel Deutschland buchstabiert“, (last accessed July 20, 2021)

Chancellor Angela’s Germany (2017), published in: German History Intersections, <> [November 30, 2023].