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    German Chancellor Merkel attends 500th anniversary ceremony of the German Beer Purity Law in Ingolstadt.

    Happy Birthday, Angela! Surprising Facts About German Chancellor Merkel

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    One of the world's most influential women, Angela Merkel, is turning 64 on July 17. Over the years she has built an image of a skilled negotiator and pragmatic politician who doesn't fear unpopular decisions, such as her "open borders" migration policy. But there's more to her than meets the eye.

    Sputnik presents five interesting facts about the German chancellor's personal life.

    Pastor’s Daughter from GDR

    The incumbent German chancellor grew up in a pastor’s family in the German Democratic Republic. Although the authorities kept an eye on children from religious families, Merkel never complained about being treated unfairly.

    “My childhood was unclouded,” she said, according to the German broadcaster DW.

    Thanks to her East German background, Merkel speaks Russian, however, scarcely uses it. Vladimir Yakunin, who climbed from being an intelligence officer in the KGB to the CEO of Russian Railways, revealed in his memoirs that she was allegedly “in thrall to some phobia” about Russia after her bicycle had been stolen by a Soviet soldier, as she reportedly told him.

    No Dog Fan

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bocharov Ruchei presidential residence, Sochi.
    © Sputnik / Dmitry Astakhov
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Bocharov Ruchei presidential residence, Sochi.

    The “bike issue” isn’t the only anxiety that the German chancellor has reportedly had to deal with during her course of work and visits to Russia. Her great fear of dogs also came into public attention during her meeting with Vladimir Putin in Sochi in 2007, where he let his late Labrador Konnie, who gave the German leader a hard time, sniff around and settle at her feet.

    READ MORE: How Merkel's Meeting With Putin Fits Into 'Germany's Foreign Policy Ambitions'

    Nude Parade Allegations

    In 2015, a retro photo of three naked girls walking on a beach, all three widely smiling and careless — naturism was gaining popularity in East Germany — emerged online. Some debated one of them was the German chancellor, who was running for a third term around the time the picture was published. However this was not confirmed.

    From “Kohl’s Girl” to Germany’s “Mommy”

    Although Merkel started her career in politics relatively late, she quickly moved up the ladder. In the 1990s, she was nicknamed “Kohl’s girl,” as the then chancellor first appointed her as his vice-chairwoman at the Christian Democratic Union and later as minister for the environment. After Kohl left politics, Merkel secured her place at the steering wheel of the party, being elected chairwoman in 2000, and eventually leading her party to victory during the 2005 Parliamentary elections, ultimately to become Germany's first female chancellor. In 2017 she became the chancellor for the fourth time, the third one in Germany's post-war history. As her career advanced, she acquired new nicknamed — “Mutti” (German for “Mommy”) and the ”Iron Chancellor.”

    Chancellor by Day, Cook in Spare Time

    In the wake of her career, Angela Merkel bragged about her cooking skills. Her specialty was reportedly a plum cake. The further she climbed up the political ladder, the less time she had for her hobby. Even while she was a minister, she could dedicate several weekends to baking during plum season. Although reports about her cooking endeavors have faded since becoming chancellor, she is occasionally spotted queuing at stores in her neighborhood.

    Football Fan

    Besides becoming one of the longest serving chancellors in German history, Angela Merkel was there to watch another historical breakthrough for her country — Germany’s victory at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. However, she is no stranger to football: since 2005, when she took office, she has repeatedly been spotted in stadiums supporting the German national team, as well as in changing rooms with half-naked players.

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    birthday, politics, migration, football, Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Angela Merkel, German Democratic Republic (GDR), Germany
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