East Germany

Angela Merkel's journey from Communist East Germany to Chancellor

​The German leader, who marks 10 years in office this weekend, is hailed by some as the most powerful statesperson in the world today, says our acclaimed Berlin Correspondent Tony Paterson. But how did this reserved pastor's daughter come to command the political stage? What will be her legacy in Germany and Europe? And can she survive the twin crises – an influx of refugees and a crumbling Eurozone – which threaten to tarnish her memory?

Classical review: Tosca - Adam Spreadbury-Maher's production doesn't

OperaUpClose specialises in bold transpositions, best exemplified by its witty setting of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera in an IKEA store. For Tosca their writer-director Adam Spreadbury-Maher has effected a different kind of transposition, but one which is entirely logical.

Lothar Bisky: Communist who helped former comrades enter the political

Lothar Bisky, who died on 13 August at the age of 71, was a politican, who after German reunification helped steer discredited East German communists into the mainstream of national politics. He was among a handful of East German Communists who took the helm of the discredited former ruling Socialist Unity Party following the opening of the Berlin Wall and the removal of the hard-line leadership. They transformed the former Stalinist party into a Western-style left-wing movement that still enjoys support, mostly in former Communist areas of eastern Germany.

Gyula Horn: Politician who helped bring down the Iron Curtain

Gyula Horn was the last Communist Foreign Minister of Hungary, who started opening the Iron Curtain. On 27 June 1989 he joined Alois Mock, the Austrian Foreign Minister, to pull down a section of the barbed wire dividing their countries. During the following months thousands of East Germans used the route to emigrate to Austria and West Germany. It was the beginning of the end for East German Communism. In Hungary Horn is better known for a massive austerity programme when he was Prime Minister in 1995. The package sparked massive opposition.

Ikea used forced prison labour to make furniture

Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant whose flat-pack offerings grace homes from Bolton to Bangkok, has admitted that East German political prisoners had been used to make its goods for as long as three decades.

More headlines

Michael Phelps reasserts authority with his 16th Olympic gold

The total now stands at 16 and this one was all his own work. Michael Phelps claimed his first individual gold of London 2012 last night with a devastating swim in the 200m individual medley that proved too much for a tiring Ryan Lochte. Phelps, the master of Beijing, has reasserted his authority in the pool.