"I didn't want to believe it. I thought Merkel was rather like a girl guide," the 45-year-old Lübeck housewife said. "Given her image, the idea that I looked like her was something of a blow," she said.
Two years later, Mrs Knoll is enjoying a blossoming career as the conservative leader's double. She appears regularly on television chat shows, dressing in Merkel-style boxy suits and pastel blazers, and mimicking herpersonality.
She has turned into a celebrity overnight. "The phone never stops ringing," Mrs Knoll said, pointing to a diary overflowing with bookings which include invitations to appear at company parties and carry out vox pop interviews for TV.
According to Mrs Knoll's agent, even Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's ruling Social Democrats have booked her for appearances during the election campaign.
Mrs Knoll's debut as Mrs Merkel came after a party in the summer of 2003 when one of the guests suggested that her likeness was so striking she ought to consider becoming her double. Her three daughters agreed and Mrs Knoll approached a doubles agent in the Ruhr who was highly impressed.
Mrs Merkel was then being panned for her deadpan looks and dowdy clothes. "I used to comfort myself by saying I only looked like her when I made an effort to, or when I looked tired and drawn," Mrs Knoll said.
Mrs Merkel has since had an extensive makeover. Her hairstyle has been softened. She wears more make-up, more flattering suits and she has learned to smile. Mrs Knoll approves. "I have since warmed to Angela Merkel. I just try to be a better version of her."
Ironically, Mrs Knoll is a Social Democrat and will vote for Mr Schröder.Reuse content