Merkel responds to Trump: 'I have witnessed' Germany under Soviet control
9:11 AM, Jul 11, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to hit back at US President Donald Trump's claim that "Germany is a captive of Russia" by drawing on her own upbringing in Soviet-controlled East Germany.
"I wanted to say that, because of current events, I have witnessed this myself, that a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union. And I am very happy that we are today unified in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany," she said in an arrival statement at the NATO Summit Wednesday, according to an English translation of her remarks.
Merkel, who was born in Hamburg in 1954, has spoken on numerous occasions about her upbringing under Soviet occupation.
"The first political event from my childhood that I remember distinctly is the building of the Berlin Wall 50 years ago. I was 7 years old at the time. Seeing grown-ups, even my parents, so stunned that they broke out in tears, shook me to the core. My mother's family, for example, was divided by the building of the Wall," she said in remarks upon receiving the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
"I grew up in the part of Germany that was not free, the German Democratic Republic. For many years I dreamed of freedom, just as many others did -- also of the freedom to travel to the United States," she said then.
Although she did not mention the US President by name in her NATO statement, Merkel's comments seemed to be a direct repudiation of Trump's earlier remarks, in which he maligned Germany for getting natural gas from Russia.
"Germany is a captive of Russia," Trump said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. "It's very inappropriate."
"I think it's something that NATO has to look at," Trump said. "Germany is totally controlled by Russia."
Trump's comments drew pushback from Stoltenberg, who defended the importance of the alliance's defense goals.