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5 weeks of solitude: Inside Angela Merkel’s diary

Welcome to Declassified, a weekly humor column.

When this stupid war is over and we come to apportion blame, we can at least remove one name from this list of those whose behavior spurred on Vladimir Putin. Yes, in the words of Angela Merkel’s favorite early 2000s reggae artist, Shaggy, the former German chancellor has made very clear that “it wasn’t me.”

In her first major interview since leaving office, Merkel rejected accusations that her policies were indirectly to blame for Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine. So that’s that sorted then.

“I don’t blame myself,” Merkel told an audience at the Berliner Ensemble theater. “I have tried to work in the direction of preventing mischief. And if diplomacy doesn’t succeed, this doesn’t mean that it was therefore wrong. Thus I don’t see why I should say: ‘That was wrong.’ And therefore I won’t apologize.” And they say Donald Trump’s influence wasn’t felt in German politics!

Merkel also revealed that after leaving office, she spent five weeks alone on the German Baltic coast, going for walks on the beach and listening to audio recordings of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and Friedrich Schiller’s “Don Carlos” — thereby continuing the glorious tradition of German chancellors being consumed by tragedy after leaving office, as started by Gerhard Schröder and his Russian business interests.  

Merkel also spent her first days as a former chancellor writing a journal, and in a Declassified exclusive, we have an extract for you now.

“Chapter 1: Weltschmerz.

“Woke early. Put on my hoodie to avoid being recognised. Comfy. I can see why Emmanuel decided to wear one when he was cosplaying as Zelenskyy, although that beard was ridiculous. Went for a long walk on the beach, listening to “Macbeth.” “Out, damned spot! out, I say” — but enough about Viktor Orbán!

“Returned to my lodgings for a sumptious lunch of kartoffelsuppe and a small glass of water. Sat down to write a letter to Olaf Scholz explaining why he’s getting everything wrong … 128 pages later I have finished. Put the letter in a drawer with all the others.

“As I reflect on my time in office, I am more and more convinced that there were no signs that Putin would one day invade. No signs. Georgia? Crimea? Donbas? MH-17? Navalny? Nope, no signs at all.

“Anyway, time to put another audiobook in the Walkman. Maybe some light-hearted fiction this time … how about Boris Johnson’s biography of Winston Churchill?”

CAPTION COMPETITION

“Great-grandma, can’t you just have Boris sent to the Tower of London?”

Can you do better? Email [email protected] or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag — there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze.

“Careful, prime minister! This is the former French bantamweight champion!” by Gregor Pozniak.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

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