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Pomp, punk and the pandemic see Merkel out of office in Germany

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One week before she steps aside, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel was 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 honor took place at the Defense Ministry rather than in a more public setting, reflecting the constraints and limited guests dictated by the pandemic.

German daily taz reported that Merkel had 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.

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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 Color 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 color pictures of their beach holiday.

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

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Merkel, who is caretaker chancellor until her successor is sworn in, explained that the song was “a highlight of my youth, which is known to have taken place in the GDR.”

East Germany was officially known as the German Democratic Republic.

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