Current Affairs Merkel’s former academic boss: “Angela is what we call a constant of motion”
Angela Merkel’s current visit to Prague is the fifth since she became German chancellor. But Ms Merkel often stayed in Prague even before she entered politics. In the 1980s, she spent some time at the then Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences where she worked at the department of theoretical physics. Professor Rudolf Zahradník recalls the times when the future German chancellor was a member of his team.
“Years ago, Prague was a natural meeting point for scientists from various parts of the world which was particularly important for our colleagues from East Germany as they had even poorer possibilities of travel than we did.
“From the very beginning, Angela was a very enthusiastic researcher. Her knowledge in the realm of theoretical physics and also chemistry was really impressive. She was a hard worker but also enjoyed good cuisine and a glass of beer or wine. She had a wide knowledge about the historical parts of Prague, and from time to time enjoyed theatre and concerts.
“Speaking of concerts, I would say it’s a kind of family hobby number one for Angela Merkel and her husband, Professor Joachim Sauer from Berlin’s Humboldt University who was also an external member of our group of theoretical and quantum chemistry.”
Angela Merkel’s political style has been described as modest and pragmatic yet very efficient. Do you recall these traits from her work at your institute?
“That’s quite a fitting description. What’s fascinating for my colleagues and myself is that she has remained the same person as she was 20 or 25 years ago – a very modest human being who always defends her ideas regardless of whether she’s talking about quantum physics or political affairs.
“We would be happy if this world, suffering in many respects from various troubles, one day had more politicians of the same stature as hers – extraordinarily educated people with a deep understanding for other people’s views. That’s Angela.”
Have you been in touch with Ms Merkel since she entered politics?
“Yes. Our contacts are of course not as intense as they were years ago but Angela is as charming as she was back then. For me and my colleagues, meeting her is always a pleasure. We admire her politics because they extremely important for Europe’s survival, and we also admire the fact that she is what in physics we call a constant of motion, with her opinions and very decent behaviour. A nice human being.”