People in the News: Angela Merkel | Level 8 | By Little Fox

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[Series Introduction]

Young newscasters Ben and Olivia introduce well-known people from around the world. These “people in the news” have accomplished extraordinary things in science, sports, music, business, politics, and more!


OLIVIA: Welcome to this week's People in the News! Today we're going to introduce you to Angela Merkel, the first female chancellor of Germany. She is often called the most powerful woman in the world.

BEN: That’s true, Olivia. Even though Angela is the political leader of Germany, she's also steered the rest of Europe through a very challenging economic period.
Angela was born in Hamburg, West Germany, in 1954. Her father was a Lutheran minister and her mother taught Latin and English. When Angela was still a baby, her family moved to East Germany so that her father could serve in a congregation there.
According to her friends, Angela often seemed eager to prove that she could accomplish difficult tasks. This led her to become a top student—and dream about becoming a figure skater one day, even though she couldn’t even walk across a balance beam without falling! And when she headed to college, she decided to study physics for a similar reason; it was the only subject she had ever flunked.
Like many other East German children, Angela joined the Communist youth movement, the Free German Youth. But the main reason she joined was to avoid standing out. The last thing she wanted was for the East German government to notice her or her family!
Back then East Germany was part of the Eastern bloc, a group of Communist states. The government was very oppressive, censoring the news and even building a huge wall through the city of Berlin. They did this to stop citizens from fleeing to West Germany, where people had a lot more freedom.
The East German government also created a secret police force called the Stasi. The Stasi kept track of what citizens were doing by planting spies everywhere—factories, hospitals, schools. The Stasi listened to people’s phone conversations and placed hidden cameras in their homes. They also kidnapped hundreds of East Germans who had left the country, and then executed them.

OLIVIA: Wow . . . Growing up in a place like that must have been really hard.

BEN: It made Angela cautious and deliberate, someone who carefully considers decisions. It also taught her to deeply value privacy and freedom.
After college Angela moved to Berlin, to work as a chemist at the German Academy of Sciences. While she was there, she earned a doctorate degree in quantum chemistry.
Then, in 1989, something amazing happened in Berlin. This event changed East Germany forever, and it also transformed Angela.
By the late 1980s, people were putting a lot of pressure on the East German government to tear down the Berlin Wall. The Eastern bloc had weakened, and citizens were protesting with peaceful acts of civil disobedience.
At last, on November 9, 1989, the East German government announced that the Berlin Wall had "fallen." This meant that East Germans could now legally cross the border into West Germany. It was an exciting moment in history as people began climbing over the wall and even stealing bits of it for souvenirs. Angela was right there in Berlin, at the center of what was happening.

OLIVIA: Is that why Angela decided to get involved in politics?

BEN: Yes. The falling of the Berlin Wall inspired her to become involved in shaping the new Germany. She became a spokesperson for
. . .

[Little Fox Introduction]

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