In September 2021 Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, is due to stand down from her post when the country goes to the polls to elect a new government. Her terms as head of state will be just short of that of her predecessor and mentor, Helmut Kohl, who oversaw the reunification of Germany and held the office for 16 years and 26 days.
During her period as Germany’s leader the country, and in many ways the entire European Union, has changed dramatically. From her early roles as General Secretary of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the late 1990s and Chairperson of the party in the early 2000s, she rose through the ranks to become the most powerful woman in the world, overseeing countless challenging situations facing Europe.
Born in Hamburg in West Germany in 1954, she moved to East Germany with her parents as an infant and only became active in politics around the time of the decline, and later collapse, of the East German state in 1989. Since 2005 she has served as German chancellor in four coalition governments and in times of upheaval, has been the EU’s de facto leader, setting the tone during the Eurozone crisis of 2008 and the migrant crisis of 2015.
Able to speak to communicate with a vast array of heads of state – from Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Donald Trump and Xi Jinping – Merkel’s moderation and sensibility has given Germany an oversized role in international politics. The country’s next leader has very large shoes to fill.
Panos photographer Stefan Boness has been photographing Angela Merkel since the early 2000s and has accumulated a unique archive of images showing her throughout the ups and downs of the past 20 years. To see the full set of images, please get in touch. Below a selection of images from the past two decades.
First term, 2005 – 2009
Second term, 2009 – 2013
Third Term, 2013 – 2017
2018 to the present