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Society & Folk


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Not exactly the style of America but Germany does have its stars and some are either internationally popular or well known. They range from those who are active in politics, design, modelling, acting, are sportspeople or religious personalities.

Angela Merkel

As Chancellor at the time of writing, Angela Merkel is a most powerful German. Merkel was born on July 17, 1954 in Hamburg. However, only a few days after their daughter’s birth the family migrated to the German Democratic Republic (DDR) where Merkel lived until reunification. The politician is a studied natural scientist. She ended her academic studies in physics with a doctoral degree and then went into research in the field of quantum chemistry.

After the fall of the wall Merkel eventually became active in the democratic party CDU and was soon known as former Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s protégée, confidante and later minister. Years before she won the national elections in 2005 as challenger to her predecessor in office, Gerhard Schröder, Merkel had been leader of the opposition. She is in her second marriage.

Heidi Klum

One of the most successful German exports, super model Heidi Klum has been residing in the USA since 1993 but keeps in touch with her Bergisch-Gladbach roots. The model was born on June 1, 1973. Her international career started in 1992; she subsequently moved to New York City preparing her break through. Today she handles her career as model, presenter, producer and businesswoman while raising her children. Klum is popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Claudia Schiffer

After being discovered in Düsseldorf’s club Checker’s, blond beauty Claudia Schiffer became one of the most successful models of the 1980s. Schiffer was born on August 25, 1970 in Rheinberg and originally wanted to become a lawyer like her father before she was contracted by the model agency Metropolitan in 1987. One year later she appeared on the Chanel catwalks, became head designer Karl Lagerfeld’s muse and the face of the company. Lagerfeld dropped her little charmingly many years afterwards. But she nonetheless fruitfully managed her career with continuing success on the catwalks and as a photo model. Today she is still active whilst caring for her children.

Steffi Graf

Graf was born Stefanie Maria Graf on June 14, 1969 in Mannheim. But the world came to know her affectionately as Steffi and as one of the most successful tennis players of all time. Steffi started playing tennis when she was three and turned professional as a 13-year-old. She retired from professional tennis in 1999 but has been active in numerous enterprises ever since. Apart from being a promoter for diverse brands, she has development a training concept and created a foundation helping traumatised children throughout the world. Graf lives with her husband and their children.

Boris Becker

In the eighties he was the other half of the dream team of German tennis. Boris Becker has achieved world fame in sports; among many successes he was able to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon at the age of 17, the youngest winner ever. Born November 22, 1967, in Leimen, Becker turned professional in 1984. He retired from sports in 1999 and today works as a tennis expert and sports commentator.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher was born on January 3, 1969 in Hürth-Hermülheim and was for many years an extraordinarily successful Formula 1 pilot racing for Ferrari. In 2006 however he changed his red overall for a suit and retired from his career. Schumacher enjoyed playing soccer and horseback riding in his free time as the father of his children. He has spent much his fortune for charitable causes; for instance, he donated $10 million for aid after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Sadly, he suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in 2013 and has not been seen publicly since.

Til Schweiger

Known as actor and producer, Til Schweiger has spent some years in the United States and in the movies on home soil. Schweiger was born December 19, 1963 in Freiburg and initially wanted to become a teacher like his parents before him, then a doctor venturing into medicine for 3 semesters until he found his true vocation in acting.

Anne-Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter is a world-famous violinist. Born in Rheinfelden on June 29, 1963, she started playing the piano at five but switched to the violin at seven and found her vocation. She turned music into her career at the age of fourteen and has since then received numerous prizes and international recognition including winning more than one Grammy Award.


With the hit 99 Red Balloons Nena flew into the international charts in the 1980s. Born as Gabriele Susanne Kerner, on May 24, 1960 in Hagen, she became a singer closely linked to the so-called German New Wave music of the 1980s. In the new millennium she successfully celebrated her come back.

Pope Benedict XVI

On April 19, 2005, the boulevard newspaper Bild euphorically informed the whole of Germany that not only Josef Alois Razinger had become Pontiff but the Germans too. The bizarre headline read “We are Pope!”, clearly with a sort of cherishing and unifying ring to it. That the Bavarian cardinal was appointed to represent the highest office at the Vatican was quite unexpected for many, including for the man of God himself.

The 265th Pontiff even admitted that he would have happily devoted his time to writing and studying instead but obviously gave into the vocation with bravura. Ever since his inauguration, the Pope received recognition and critique. Perhaps most noteworthy in terms of popularity is the fact that the silent scholar was celebrated like a pop star at the World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005. Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927 in the small Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn. He surprised the world in 2013 by resigning.

By Carla C. Degen, Jul 11 2013

Artist performing on carpet


Art venues and museums in Düsseldorf regularly present selections of their fine pieces in well arranged exhibitions. Regular exhibits also include fascinating or rare works from across the globe with loaned art and artefacts.

River, beach and couple walking


A great way to get to know Düsseldorf is to take an inspiring and rewarding walk, allow impressions to cause a pause, interact and allow details to remain more memorable. Admiring quaint side streets, strolling the promenade, the riverside or numerous woodlands bring joy to the soul.

City guide for expats

Amazing Capitals Düsseldorf is packed with insights for expats. It is dedicated to helping international residents make better choices, settle in and participate. Enjoy!