Poor Marx: East German Ideology Was Not Merkel's Strong Suit

There is no disputing that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was an excellent student of physics. But a look into her student files reveals that, when it came to Marxist-Leninist ideology, she wasn't quite as accomplished.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was not a good student of East German ideology. Zoom

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was not a good student of East German ideology.

There are those who, despite little suporting evidence, have long accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of having been cozier with the East German regime than she has admitted. The fact that many documents from her past as a young woman growing up in Germany's formerly communist half remained classified has long fuelled such skepticism.

But marks received by Merkel from the Academy of Sciences in Berlin on her way to receiving a Ph.D. in physics seem to indicate that she was far from being an enthusiastic ideologue. According to her student files, obtained by SPIEGEL via a filing based on German freedom of information legislation, Merkel may have been an excellent science student, but she was distinctly average when it came to Marxist-Leninist studies.

In 1983, Ideology Professor Joachim Rittershaus gave Merkel, who was 29 at the time, a grade of just "satisfactory" after her completion of a three-year course in Marxist-Leninist Education.

Rittershaus says he doesn't remember Merkel's having taken part in his course, which was required for all students. But he said that the course "wasn't taken very seriously" at the time.

By contrast, Merkel received a mark of "very good" for her physics research. She turned in her dissertation in 1986. Her final paper for her Marxist-Leninist course, however, has never been found.


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