That puritan Angie Merkel

Now that we know it was Angela Merkel who effectively quashed Brexit negotiations, all sort of pundits try to explain why.

Following Byron’s lead, I’ll attempt to “explain the explanation”, specifically the most preposterous one. For, according to a respectable opinion former, Angie is so obstreperous because she resents Boris Johnson’s libertinage.

You see, as a daughter of a Lutheran pastor she has a deep puritan streak that makes her cringe with revulsion at the very sight of her debauched British counterpart. That’s why she shouts a stern nein every time that pervert offers a way out of the deadlock.

I shan’t reiterate my own interpretation of her opposition to a painless Brexit. God knows I’ve written about it often enough, the last time only a couple of days ago. Suffice it to say here that Merkel’s reasons have nothing to do with her sexual probity, and everything to do with her urge to discourage other departures from the EU by making Britain’s life as hard as possible.

However, it’s amazing that the occupation of Merkel’s father attracts so much attention, while her own very dubious past in East Germany so little. The photograph on the left, one of many similar ones, was taken when a young and impressionable Angie must have been most influenced by her family’s unwavering Protestant values.

Yet my impression is that she had courageously cast aside the shackles of Lutheran dogmatism and followed her own, steadily ascending, path. But, while applauding her inner freedom, one ought to mention that her commitment to any other, more conventional kind was at the time distinctly understated.

In her East German youth, Merkel held a nomenklatura position of agitprop chief at a regional committee of Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ), the youth organisation typologically similar to its predecessor that also had Jugend in its name.

Just as Hitlerjugend had close links with the SS, the FDJ was the breeding ground for the Stasi. The two organisations always worked hand in glove, even though the FDJ nominally reported to the party.

This organisational arrangement was the same in all communist countries. That’s why the high command of the secret police was everywhere more likely to come up through the ranks of youth organisations than of the party proper. Thus, for example, the Soviet KGB was from 1958 to 1982 run by three consecutive chairmen (Shelepin, Semichasny and Andropov) who had made their bones in the nomenklatura of the komsomol (the model for the FDJ).

As a student in Moscow, and occasional freelance interpreter, I had the chance to observe komsomol functionaries and their Eastern European counterparts in close-up. Just take my word for it: neither sexual prudery nor teetotalism figured high on their list of virtues.

Their conferences mostly followed the same pattern: dreary communist business by day, drunken orgies by night. This continued a pattern established in the early years of komsomol, when every female member was institutionally obligated to accept the advances of any male comrade.

In those days, free love was inscribed on the banners of the revolution, and organisations such as the Union of the Shameless thrived in Russia. One of their leaders was the propaganda honcho Karl Radek, who led nude marches through Moscow. And Lenin’s mistress, Inessa Armand, preached that sex was as basic as drinking a glass of water. One hopes, for the sake of her sainted lover’s memory, she didn’t mean drinking it in one gulp.

Following Marx’s prescription, women were regarded as communal property, and some local party committees, such as the one in Saratov, even issued written directives on how often, when and by whom women were to be “used”.

By the time I, and for that matter Angie, grew up, things had become more, shall we say, bourgeois. Various moral codes had been spun out by the party, castigating sexual licence as strictly a capitalist vice. But another moral code, that formed by the amoral legacy of the revolution, had irretrievably seeped into the people’s DNA.

That much all communist countries had in common. Yet there were local variations, such as official nudist organisations that existed in East Germany, but not in the Soviet Union. Numerous photos of Angie surrounded by similarly unclad youngsters suggest she belonged to one such setup.

While there’s no evidence that she indulged in anything other than youthful exhibitionism, it would be presuming too much on human virtue to suppose that no tactile contact among hordes of naked, hormonal youngsters ever ensued.

Incidentally, even as Chancellor, Frau Merkel can’t resist the urge to flash flesh. The décolletés of her evening dresses, for example, show more breast than many women have altogether. And photos of her cellulite barely contained by swim suits still abound in newspapers.

That, however, is only of marginal interest. What’s more relevant is that any holder of a nomenklatura position in the FDJ, such as young Angie, had to work in close contact with the Stasi, which in turn was but an extension of the KGB. Such organisations served world communism, a doctrine as evil as it is atheist.

Eastern European countries, the GDR among them, allowed more leeway in religious matters than the USSR did, but no sincere believer had any hope of career advancement – and it was out of the question for such a person to hold a nomenklatura position. Nor, as a matter of fact, would a believer accept a post of that kind.

This part of Merkel’s background is more germane to her subsequent career than her father’s ministry is. In any case, I doubt that the Rev. Horst Kasner rejoiced in the sight of his daughter cavorting naked in mixed company.

He would have been more likely to associate such displays with Nordic pagan rites than with anything remotely having to do with Christianity. So do let’s allow the poor man rest and piece and focus instead on Angie’s relevant CV. There’s much more there to excite our imagination.

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