Annalena Baerbock, candidate for chancellor of Germany’s Green Party, is due to release a book setting out her aims for the country’s future, in particular with regards to the environment and social justice.
What led her to join the Greens was the intense internal party debate over Germany’s military involvement in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, Baerbock wrote in the book, extracts of which were seen by dpa on Monday, ahead of the publication next week.
The conflict “between the party’s own aims and commitments – never again war on the one hand, and never again genocide on the other – gripped her imagination during her late teenage years, Baerbock wrote.
In the book, the 40-year-old sets out her aims were she to become chancellor in the September elections, focusing on fighting climate change and addressing the challenges posed by digitalization and innovation.
But she also tells of her childhood in a village near Hanover, where her parents spent years renovating an old house together with relatives.
“I grew up with my two younger sisters and with my cousins on this building site with four hectares of a garden that had run wild,” Baerbock writes, adding that she remains at heart a village dweller. Today she lives with her husband and two daughters in Potsdam near Berlin.
“There’s a lot of personal stuff in it,” Baerbock told dpa in a recent interview about her upcoming book.
She said that political commitment is only possible with inner conviction, but also with an eye on the realities people face in their day-to-day lives.
According to Baerbock, the Greens have long realized that environmental reform without social guarantees will never find a political majority.
Her aim in the book is to clarify difficult themes on how a “social-ecological market economy” concretely affects people in Germany and how contact with industry bosses and trade union leaders remains essential.
The book goes into considerable detail in its 240 pages on health, transport, schools and sports – Baerbock was a competitive trampolinist in her youth.
The book notes that the deepest conflicts within the party remain over foreign policy when at times “one has to decide between the devil and the deep-blue sea.” These decisions usually refer, as with Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to the use of military force.
Baerbock does not rule out the possibility. “Here, it’s not about a morally clear conscience, but rather about concrete action to reduce suffering and save lives,” she writes.