Political Conspiracy Theories: Angela Merkel Is No KGB 'Sleeper Agent'

By Jan Fleischhauer

Angela Merkel, then the German Women's Issues Minister, sits next to then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1991: "She has been turned." Zoom
DPA

Angela Merkel, then the German Women's Issues Minister, sits next to then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1991: "She has been turned."

Ever wondered what Angela Merkel had in mind with her decision to phase out nuclear energy? Dependency on Russian energy, if you believe some prominent conspiracy theorists. They'd like you to believe the German chancellor is some kind of KGB "sleeper agent" installed by Moscow at the end of the Cold War.

For people from the states of the former West Germany, those from the East just can't be trusted entirely -- it's a latent suspicion people have always had. For anyone who is drilled from childhood on to hide his or her feelings and thoughts, having two faces becomes second nature.

"Disguise and deception are traditional survival strategies that people were forced to use under a dictatorship," social psychologist Tilman Allert wrote a few days ago in the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in a piece that explored "strategic insincerity" as a way of life.

In other words, we should have known better. Instead, we allowed 16 million potential sleeper agents into the country. Now they are among us. One is already even sitting in the Chancellery.

Yes, let's not allow ourselves to be deceived by the harmless-seeming façade. Angela Merkel has everything it takes to sneak her way to the top: a great degree of adaptability paired with a high level of intelligence, as well as an almost inexhaustible capacity for patience. For nearly eight years now, she's been Germany's leader, and yet she remains an enigma. Even today, we still don't know what she's really thinking, what she wants or where she comes from.

'Homeland' in the Chancellery

Fortunately, there are still some courageous people in Germany who are brave enough to seek the truth. We have a publishing house in Munich to thank for a new book about the "First Life of Angela M.," which claims to clear up the "legend of the patriotic pastor's daughter."

Now we know that Merkel not only spoke Russian well, but was outright "enthusiastic" about learning the language. Nor were her travels as innocent as she would later lead us to think. During one trip through the Soviet Union, she absolutely had to travel to Gori, "the city of Stalin's birth." Anyone who has seen the television series "Homeland," knows where this is heading. You just have to put the pieces together to get the full picture: "She has been turned."

In Merkel's case, everything is built around a single theory, one that can also be found in the new book, but only in coded language. Even in Munich, it seems, there are some things people don't trust themselves to say out loud. Instead they have to rely on SPIEGEL ONLINE to do it for them.

The theory goes like this: During the fall of 1989, the powers in Moscow realized that East Germany was no longer sustainable. So they dispatched KGB agents Wolfgang Schnur (for a short time the head of "Demokratischer Aufbruch," or Democratic Awakening, the opposition political movement to which Merkel also belonged) and Lothar de Maizière (the first and last democratically elected East German prime minister) in order to steer a young physicist named Angela Merkel toward Helmut Kohl. The neophyte politician spent the subsequent years as a protégé of the aging German chancellor -- waiting and watching, learning and perfecting herself.

In March 2011, the time had finally come and the "sleeper agent" activated herself. With the phase-out of nuclear power, Merkel suddenly made Germany dependent on Russia for energy with one fell swoop. Anyone who ruminates on categories of power knows that energy policy is the same as security policy. So now it will be determined in Moscow whether or not the lights work in Germany.

Okay, you may think this is just some crazy conspiracy theory -- and you are doubtlessly right about that. But as one can see these days, even level-headed observers of the chancellor are falling prey to the demonization of Merkel. The notion that Merkel wants to transform the country into some kind of East Germany-lite has even been covered on the editorial and culture pages of the biggest newspapers in the land.

In the newspapers, though, Merkel isn't portrayed as a KGB sleeper agent -- but rather as a kind of evil spirit who wants to cast some sort of spell over Germany that will place the entire country in an eternal slumber. Here, too, it is her conspicuous harmlessness that makes her seem so dangerous. Or, as the German journalist Reinhard Mohr, who has a good flair for aphorism, puts it, "She does nothing, but it is precisely by doing so that she governs the country. She has no clear opinion on any given issue, but yet she imposes this upon the entire country. It almost sounds a little diabolical."

Merkel Wants to Stay in Office Longer than Kohl

The complaint that the chancellor is refusing to engage in the national election in any combative or interesting way is also a bit off the mark, if one thinks about it. In the past, it was always up to the opposition to make sure that the election campaign was a lively one. It appears, however, that the situation among the opposition Social Democrats is so desperate that this task has also fallen on the chancellor.

The left-wing political camps in Germany are now clinging to a hope that another recently published book about Merkel has fed: That she will step down halfway through her next term if re-elected, and will exit the domestic political stage, possibly taking a post at the European Union in Brussels. During Merkel's earlier days in the Chancellery, many had their sights set on toppling her. Now they are hoping she will leave on her own accord.

But I can only say this to those who despise Merkel and would like to see a voluntary retreat: You may be waiting for a very long time. If the chancellor has one goal in mind, it is to exceed the record 16 years that Kohl spent leading Germany. If she succeeds, then we will have at least nine more years of Merkel as chancellor ahead of us -- plenty of time for new theories to emerge.

Here's one that people might want to consider: Who is responsible for the fact that not only the chancellor, but also President Joachim Gauck, come from the former German Democratic Republic? The leaders of the opposition are to blame for catapulting Gauck into the position to further their own devious agenda.

But who's going to believe that?

Jan Fleischhauer is the author of "Der Schwarze Kanal," or "The Black Channel," SPIEGEL ONLINE's weekly conservative political column. Black is a reference to the political color of Chancellor Angela Merkel's political party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union.

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