German Language Blog

Why Merkel Is Sitting Down Now Posted by on Jul 25, 2019 in Language

Something is going on with Germany’s Bundeskanzlerin (Federal Chancellor) Angela Merkel. The Powerfrau (power woman) experienced heavy Zittern (tremors) several times in the past few weeks, and it got the Germans worried. What’s behind the Schüttelattacken (shake attacks)? Geht es ihr gut?

Die Zitteranfälle

On June 18, during a state ceremony, Bundeskanzlerin Merkel shook visibly . Afterwards, she declared “Ich habe inzwischen mindestens drei Gläser Wasser getrunken. Das hat anscheinend gefehlt. Insofern geht es mir sehr gut”.

(I already drank three glasses of water now. Apparently that was missing. In that respect, I am doing very well.”)

Only 9 days later, during the inauguration of the new Justizministerin (Justice Minister) Christine Lambrecht, it happened again. Her reaction then: “Ich bin überzeugt: So wie diese Reaktion aufgetreten ist, wird sie auch wieder vergehen.” 

(“I am convinced: This reaction will be gone as quick as it came.”)

Then on July 10, it happened once again. Another Zitteranfall during a Staatsbesuch of Finnish Antti Rinne. Afterwards, she said:

“Ich habe neulich schon einmal gesagt, dass ich in einer Verarbeitungsphase der letzten militärischen Ehren mit dem Präsidenten Selenskyi bin. Die ist offensichtlich noch nicht ganz abgeschlossen, aber es gibt Fortschritte, und ich muss damit jetzt eine Weile leben. Aber mir geht es sehr gut, und man muss sich keine Sorgen machen.”

(“Recently, I already stated that I am in a processing phase of the last military honors with [Ukrainian] President Selenskyi. That phase is apparently not over yet, but there is progress, and I have to live with this now for a while. But I am doing very good and there is no reason to worry.”)

All three times, Merkel stood still for an extended period of time. The moment she walked again, nothing appeared to be wrong. And what does she do now?

Sie sitzt! (She is sitting!)

While some have speculated that this could be something very serious, like Parkinson’s disease, others say it is less dramatic, and rather speak of somatisches Zittern (somatic tremor) or Angstattacken (anxiety attacks). Whatever it is, so far it seems that Merkel is doing just fine!

Should Germany know?

Angela Merkel in 2019 (Image by Raimond Spekking at under license CC BY SA 4.0)

The Zitteranfälle caused debate in Germany whether the Bundeskanzlerin‘s Gesundheit (health) is within her Privatsphäre (private sphere) or whether it should be public, since she holds such an important public office. According to a Umfrage (survey), 59% of Germans say that her Gesundheit is her Privatsphäre, whereas 34% say that she needs to make it public. In general, Germans are quite concerned about their Datenschutz (data protection), so it is not surprising that they think this way.

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. grandrat:

    Dear Mrs Merkel is a voice of European moderation, reason and stability in a world rocked by extremism and populism. I wish her well and hope she reaches her full term as Chancellor so that she can have a well-earned rest in retirement.

  2. Doris Fraser:

    I am along time fan/supporter of Angela Merkel and wish her all the best with many blessings. She deserves them.
    Doris Fraser