On Wednesday, TIME magazine revealed that it had selected German Chancellor Angela Merkel as its Person of the Year. Beating out other contenders like Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter activists, and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Merkel was chosen for her extraordinary handling of several monumental crises over the last year. She has confronted Vladimir Putin over Russia's annexation of Ukraine, navigated Greece out of its debt crisis with the Eurozone, and became a one-woman beacon of hope amid the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Given her incredible year, Merkel was an easy choice. And as expected, TIME 's profile on Merkel is rife with unforgettable lines.
In a separate piece, TIME Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs' elaborates on why Merkel was chosen, outlining a cataclysmic year in which "not once or twice but three times ... there has been reason to wonder whether Europe could continue to exist." Merkel's political style ("no flair, no flourishes, no charisma") and unparalleled leadership continues to lead the continent through some of its darkest times in recent history. As a world leader who "brandished a different set of values — humanity, generosity, tolerance," Merkel sets herself apart from most heads of state. Without a doubt, she should be celebrated.
Merkel's unique qualities also make her story a rich one to tell. Here are the 16 best lines from TIME's profile of its Person of the Year.
When [the Berlin Wall] fell in 1989, she gathered the qualities cultivated as a necessity in the East — patience, blandness, intellectual rigor and an inconspicuous but ferocious drive — and changed not only her life but the course of history.
For her, the refugee decision was a galvanizing moment in a career that was until then defined by caution and avoidance of anything resembling drama. Analysts called it a jarring departure from form. But it may also have been inevitable, given how Angela Merkel feels about walls.
The worlds Merkel has mastered carry not a hint of the forces that have shaped Europe’s history, the primal sort a child senses, listening to a story, safe in bed.
What got people’s attention during the saga of Greece ... was Merkel’s stern mien. She wasn’t the only Northerner preaching austerity to the sunny Mediterranean nations that spent money they did not have. But it was Merkel who became the face of the European banker, caricatured here as a dominatrix, there as a storm trooper.
The saga cemented Merkel’s status as leader of Europe, if a chilly one.
"[Politicians] love it. They love to be photographed and filmed," Koelbl says. "Merkel is not like that. She’s not vain. To be vain, if you’re familiar with Wagner, it’s an Achilles' heel for everyone, I would say. That’s one way she was protected, in a certain way. And is still protected."
"She doesn’t take on fights she can’t win," says [biographer Stefan] Kornelius. "There are a couple of examples out there, lying in their coffins, of people who got in her way."
Yet Germans call her Mommy. The word in German, Mutti, is even cozier, summoning the sense of being cared for that accumulated over Merkel’s 10 years in office.
Merkel once said that in school, she preferred to sit in the middle of the classroom if not all the way in the back, because she “liked to have the overview.”
Her method is to study a problem to its foundations, vacuuming up data and asking endless questions.
When, after much study, she decides on a course, she is unlikely to announce what it is, preferring the freedom of proceeding step by step on a map never made public.
Merkel’s hands-on approach carries a constant danger of getting lost in the weeds, as many said she did during the euro crisis. But she also has a record of scanning the globe from a high altitude, focusing intently on dangers not yet apparent to others.
Unlikely as it may sound in the era of Donald Trump and Barack Obama, the blandness is an asset.
By the accounts of colleagues and visitors, Merkel is as entertaining in private as she is stolid in public. In the right mood, she will caricature other public figures to devastating effect, and finds an edge in conversation to make pointed jokes, both at her own expense and that of others. Bombastic males are a specialty.“She has one principle — an emotional belief, I think — as one who in her younger years was not able to travel around the world,” says [Matthias] Wissmann. “She does not want to see people surrounded by walls.Merkel’s legacy—her bold, fraught, immensely empathetic act of leadership—challenges more than the comfort of European life. It also challenges the comfort of assumptions about any group, including, if it works out, Germans.