News Thatcher's iconic locks were as big a part of her image as her sensible handbag, but few knew, until now, just how long it took her to keep her famous barnet in check until the National Archives released her 1984 appointments diary

Thatcher's locks were as big a part of her image as her sensible handbag, but few knew just how long it took her to keep her famous barnet in check

Talking about that European elephant in the room has certainly brightened things up

Angela Merkel chose to sell herself to German voters as a master EU summit negotiator

Helmut Kohl

Bitter feud divides family of Germany’s reunification leader

Son of Helmut Kohl accuses second wife of controlling former Chancellor ‘like a stalker’

Peter Popham: Holding leaders to account is a democratic duty

The fall of the ultimate leader of a state – his execution, conviction or simply humiliation – is a dangerous thrill. The citizens who cheered the decapitations of Charles I and Louis XVI knew all about it, the surging, anarchic sense of power and vindication. The Egyptians who this year saw a supine, inert Mubarak wheeled into court, the Libyans who saw the Brother Leader butchered in the street like a rabid dog, knew that mood of wild elation.

Helmut Kohl blames Merkel for ruining his Europe project

Chancellor Angela Merkel's euro woes plunged to new and uncharted depths yesterday, amid disclosures that her former mentor Helmut Kohl had accused her of "ruining" the Europe he had helped to create and of pursuing single currency policies which he called "very dangerous".

Leo Kirch: Entrepreneur who built up one of Europe's largest media empires only to see it fall apart

From nothing Leo Kirch built up one of the largest film and television companies in Europe, employing nearly 10,000 people. Inevitably, he was compared to Rupert Murdoch and Silvio Berlusconi.

The tortured life of Mrs Helmut Kohl

A new book reveals that the former German leader's wife was raped as a child and hated life in the political spotlight

Mary Dejevsky: Who dares wins – in politics, too

It's not enough to be confident and ambitious, to have a sound party base and to do your homework more assiduously. You have to go on seizing the opportunities

The Perfect Nazi, By Martin Davidson

The "perfect Nazi" took many forms in the Third Reich. It had to, in order to ensure the mass mobilisation of the population behind the National Socialist cause. It could take the form of an Aryan woman pushing out baby after baby, serving as an incubator of future soldiers for the Reich, or of an ardent Hitler Youth member who was quick to denounce his parents if they deviated from the Nazi world-view. Or it could take the form of an SS officer, actively hunting down opponents to the regime and pursuing whatever channels deemed necessary to ensure the longevity of Hitler's rule. Martin Davidson's grandfather, Bruno Langbehn, fell into the latter group.

The iron Frau: Angela Merkel

Germany is flexing its muscles again – thanks to a tough-talking Chancellor who is enjoying popularity both at home and abroad. How has Angela Merkel done it? Tony Paterson reports

Otto Graf Lambsdorff: Flamboyant West German economics minister who brought down Helmut Schmidt

Otto Graf Lambsdorff, as he was known, had the distinction of serving as economics minister in Helmut Schmidt's left-of-centre government from 1977 until 1982, and then in Helmut Kohl's right-of-centre coalition until 1984.

Bruce Anderson: The EU battle isn't over for Cameron

Although a short-term crisis has been averted, a longer term crisis is inevitable

The Fall of the Wall: 20 Years On

We know what happened in the years following the momentous events of 9 November 1989: the birth of a new Europe. But that week, fear mingled with hope – and The Independent's correspondents and photographers were there to capture the moment. In a special report, we present the first draft of history

Frau Fortunate: Angela Merkel

With a huge poll lead ahead of national elections, Germany's first woman Chancellor continues to be in the right place at the right time

And finally, Germans see the funny side of Mrs Merkel

Chancellor escapes lightly in comic biography three months before election
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital