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Merkel: Coronavirus is Germany's biggest challenge since WWII

Merkel: Coronavirus is Germany's biggest challenge since WWII

Merkel: Coronavirus is Germany's biggest challenge since WWII

“The situation is serious. Take it seriously.” With these words Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the population to heed the government’s confinement measures, describing the coronavirus pandemic as Germany’s biggest challenge since World War II. 

Fighting coronavirus is a collective effort, says Merkel

In a rare televised nationwide address, pre-recorded and then broadcast on Wednesday evening, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on everyone to recognise the gravity of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and to do their part in slowing its spread. 

“The situation is serious. Take it seriously,” she said. “Not since German reunification, no, not since the Second World War has our country faced a challenge that depends so much on our collective solidarity.”

Unlike countries like Italy, France and Spain, Germany has not ordered a total lockdown, but instead closed schools and borders, imposed travel restrictions and ordered the closure of many other public spaces. Merkel urged everyone to follow these restrictions, stressing that the virus could only be defeated if every person played along. “We are a community in which every life and every person counts.”

“I truly believe that we will succeed in the task before us, so long as all the citizens of this country understand that it is also their task,” she said. “I also want to tell you why we also need your contribution and what each and every person can do to help.” 

Chancellor’s first unscheduled TV address

Beyond Merkel’s impassioned speech, the TV appearance in itself marked the gravity of the situation. It is the first time in her 15 years as chancellor - a period which has included the 2008 financial crash, the 2015 refugee crisis and Brexit -  that she has delivered an unscheduled address directly to the German nation. 

During the speech she also struck an unusually personal note, drawing on her own history as a former citizen of the German Democratic Public: “Let me assure you: for someone like myself, for whom freedom of travel and movement were hard-won rights, such restrictions can only be justified when they are absolutely necessary.”

Coronavirus cases in Germany climb to 12.000

Merkel’s appearance came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany climbed past the 12.000 mark overnight. Earlier in the day, the Robert Koch Institute had warned that as many as 10 million individuals in Germany could become infected with coronavirus if people do not heed the government-imposed measures. 

Thumb: Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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