Angela Merkel receives Germany’s highest honor
Former Chancellor Angela Merkel received Germany’s highest Order of Merit. The Grand Cross award was handed to her by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The award has only been given twice before, to former chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl. All three former leaders belong to the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
The Order of Merit entails no financial reward. Merkel led Germany from 2005 to 2021, totaling four terms in office. She did not seek a fifth term. She was the first woman to take the post of chancellor and the first German head of government to have grown up in socialist East Germany. Steinmeier praised Merkel as an “unprecedented politician” who successfully steered Germany through difficult times, including the 2008 financial meltdown and the 2015 refugee crisis. Merkel, 68, was the first woman to lead Germany and the first chancellor who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in communist East Germany.
About the Order of Merit
Germany’s highest Order of Merit is known as the Federal Cross of Merit, or Bundesverdienstkreuz in German. It is awarded by the President of Germany to individuals who have made significant contributions to the nation’s cultural, economic, or political life, or have provided outstanding service to society. The Order of Merit was established in 1951, and is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in Germany. There are eight classes of the Order of Merit, with the highest being the Grand Cross, followed by the First Class Cross, Second Class Cross, and so on. The award is not restricted to German citizens and is frequently bestowed upon foreigners who have contributed to Germany’s social, political, or cultural development.