When Angela Merkel was elected Chancellor of Germany in 2005, she was 51 years old. She was not only youngest elected Chancellor, but she was the first woman to hold the position, as well as the first Chancellor to have been raised in the former East Germany.
In 2021 she leaves her political positions. For me, who has always admired her at the François Mitterrand level, as a European I will feel orphaned because Angela for 15 years has been the true Mother of Europe. Mother of Europe because she is the only Chancellor in Germany capable of making the tragedy of dormant Nazi memories to be kept alive. Those memories should not be forgotten, but cultivated. And watched carefully like a cancer. If Germany regrets its past, then it cannot be agitated to have a shield against it.
To further appreciate Angela, it must be remembered that Germany was unified by the kind concession to Helmut Kohl by François Mitterrand, who could have prevented the unification, but instead provided that Kohl subject himself to bringing the Euro into the Deutsche Mark. When speaking against the so-called France-Germany “consulate” and against the Euro, fundamental facts are forgotten through foolishness or simple ignorance.
After the war, the Deutsche Mark had entered the empyrean of currencies thanks to a continuously growing GDP that had surpassed that of England and France, who had won the Second World War. Despite Germany having lost the war it won with regards to peace and economically. Its industrial growth put budget parity above the devaluation games that Italians favored to conquer competitive margins which, in my opinion, would have been perfectly able to acquire otherwise.
But Germany always reproduces its qualities in economy – and runs the risk of making the same mistakes with respect to wars. Italy does not adequately appreciate its qualities (creativity and ingenuity) and basks in its errors (carelessness and patronage), which it considers to be merits. The results? Just look at the automotive business sector. There is no area in this sector where Italy has not produced spectacular cars. Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Lancia, and of course Fiat. But the big ones have all disappeared and Fiat has also left Italy’s national borders, while Audi, BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Opel are all still there in Germany.
The Marshall Plan aimed at the industrial renaissance that indeed occurred in Italy, but that was then neglected to play the easy money game, competition by devaluation instead of strengthening industry. An error that current political forces would blindly repeat with Covid-19 European funds — spending instead of joining up with Confindustria for a Post Covid-19 industrial plan — while complaining about “bad” states.
Germany then, as now, focused on the building a national strong industry of which a strong currency, not a devalued one, is the necessary prop. Modern Machiavelli genius François Mitterrand understood that with Helmut Kohl it was no longer a question of fighting for the Alsace or Lorraine in a dispute to be resolved in a classic war (,perhaps leading to future world wars, because alas, the European wars — a continental hobby since the collapse of the Roman Empire — had been quarantined after Herr Hitler’s antics thanks to the Cold War).
No more wars? Yes, of course, at least in the classical sense. Because the new wars would have been monetary, and there was little to be happy about, the French Franc would have been tossed between the Dollar and Deutsche Mark. The Yen, in fact, has never had the opportunity to become a world currency, and we don’t even need to talk about the Ruble, while the Yuan was too busy keeping exports very low, and the Pound saw its future in those 5 or 6 tax havens created to maintain a financial empire (which it must be said, incidentally, it does very well).
With a Dollar still king — albeit a constitutional king because it had had to accept flexible exchange rates — and a Deutsche Mark that would consolidate itself as a junior partner, the role for France’s Franc would have been difficult. François Mitterrand, Renaissance prince (suffice it to say that his first act as president-elect was the abolition of the death penalty), bartered for the unification of Germany with the entry of the Euro into the Mark, because this was what it was: the Euro entered the Deutsche Mark and not vice versa.
And Kohl accepted.
Euro critics who complain about a national currency and want to continue to devalue and sell off the national industry, forget that the Euro was inflicted upon Germany.
Angela came after Gerhard Schröder, who days ago said that if the US opposes North Stream 2, then the alliance with the US of Europe must be reviewed! North Stream 2 is the second Russian pipeline that the US is hindering for commercial and strategic reasons. Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi wanted to build the South Stream, but while Schröder agreed to be the President of the North Stream, Italy’s Romano Prodi renounced being the President of the South Stream.
Thus for 15 years Angela has been the Mother of Europe — making sure that nothing happened in Europe. And in fact, politically in Europe nothing has happened. Putin was there when she became Chancellor, and Putin is now still there. Berlusconi was the prime minister in Italy, and Berlusconi is now there as a Member of the European Parliament, and being courted by Prodi. Back then there was Ratzinger (newly elected as Pope Benedict XVI) and now there is Ratzinger (formally retired).
Bombs, terrorist attacks, oil crises, monetary crises have not been missing — history in the variety of everyday life always manifests itself in the same way — but Mother Angela, has kept Europe at bay. Peaceful after all. Which with a collection of restless, quarrelsome, arrogant subjects, even incapable of keeping England within themselves — and this was probably the only victory that has failed Mother Angela — is the most extraordinary political success that a Chancellor could achieve.