I have always been curious about Angela Merkel's background in the former GDR. Did she always have pro-American, Christian democratic beliefs? If so, did she suffer any consequences for these beliefs in the repressive GDR system? Was she spied on by the Stasi? Was she close to democratic dissidents like Wolf Biermann or Robert Havemann? Some of these questions are answered in Gerd Langguth's biography: Angela Merkel.
The key to unlocking the mystery of Angela Merkel is her father, the Protestant Minister Horst Kasner, who emigrated from West Germany to the East Zone in 1954, where he began an effort to "rehabilitate" the church - making it acceptable to the Stalinist SED ruling party. The church under Kasner thus became another instrument of state domination, and Kasner benefitted greatly from his elite status within the political apparatus. Kasner's family also reaped the benefits: luxury home, two cars (most GDR citizens had to wait years for just one Trabant), trips to Italy and other countries outside the socialist bloc. Angela was able to attend the elite school (Erweiterte Oberschule) along with the sons and daughters of important party functionaries. Langguth describes how Horst Kassner worked closely together with Stasi informant Clemens de Maiziere on forming the SED church policy. De Maiziere's son Lothar would later play a decisive role in Angela's life during his brief stint as DDR-Premier (before he too was exposed as a Stasi informant).
What is interesting about Angela's formative years is the utter banality and conformity of her life. While the Perestroika movement was shaking the foundation of the GDR and led to a creative renaissance with novels (Jurek Becker), films and theater(Plenzdorf) , Angela was blithely studying physics at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig, where she was active in the SED youth organization. Fellow students recall that Angela was Secretary for Agitation and Propaganda and procured theater tickets for her comrades, but her files from that period have mysteriously vanished.
Her one act of rebellion against her father occured after Die Wende when she joined the new party Demokratischer Aufbruch (DA), started by another Stasi informant Wofgang Schnur. As Langguth points out, this was a shrewd move on her part, since she could hedge her bets by not joining one of the West parties should the DDR have remained a separate country. After Lothar de Maiziere made her his deputy spokesperson and the DA became subsumed in the Christian Democrats, Angela caught the attention of Helmut Kohl and the rest is history. Angela Merkel - a daughter of Stalinist privilege, now the leader of the conservative CDU and quite possibly Germany's next chancellor.