The relationship between Germans and their former chancellors is complicated. Well, Helmut Schmidt was more popular as ex-government than any day as head of government. But in retirement, Helmut Kohl got caught up in the tide of donations, and according to many, Gerhard Schröder even lost his honour.
Why should the first former chancellor fare better? Although Angela Merkel decided to leave the country herself, she walked out of the Chancellery beaming last year. And unlike her predecessors, nobody worried that she wouldn't be able to get along without politics. But that was pretty much the only thing that went well for Merkel in the almost twelve months since. The news often sounded like a reckoning with her legacy. CDU veteran Wolfgang Schäuble was just wondering publicly whether Merkel was a historically great chancellor at all.
Does the political pensioner itch such a night step from the "party friend"? As office manager of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, my colleague Nico Fried followed the Merkel era very closely. Even in his new role at the star, the contact has not broken off, Merkel recently received Fried for a detailed discussion. There was only one condition: Merkel did not want to release verbatim quotes. She no longer wants to produce news. But reading material does.
But my colleague Norbert Höfler met an amazingly good-humoured Lufthansa boss for the stern interview. He has repaid government loans, and US business is booming. Spohr, himself a trained pilot, didn't even want to have anything more to do with trouble with his status-conscious pilots who were happy to go on strike. "When it shakes over the South Atlantic at three o'clock in the morning," he says, "I'm very happy to have three self-confident colleagues in the cockpit."
Last week we announced that our trio of reporters at the World Cup in Qatar would certainly not deliver jubilant reports, but would take a critical look. The opening day already showed how much there is to do. Editor Moritz Herrmann was almost crushed when he only wanted to visit the "Fifa Fan Festival" in Doha. "Everything was perfectly planned, the Qataris had repeatedly assured," wrote Herrmann, "but apparently they forgot about the people during the planning."
So is our author Jan Christoph Wiechmann allowed to write about an exceptional soccer player like Argentinian Lionel Messi and the fact that his fans cycled from Argentina to the World Cup again, for 177 days? Yes, Wiechmann can do that, he even has to. Because football remains such a wonderful thing that even people like Fifa President Gianni Infantino won't be able to break it.
Yours sincerely, Gregor Peter Schmitz, Editor-in-Chief