Merkel moonlights as history teacher

Odd Andersen | AFP | Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel drew on her Communist-era experiences to teach a history class at a school in east Berlin on Tuesday - the 52nd anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall.

Merkel, who is campaigning ahead of next month's general election, gave a 45-minute lesson as a 'substitute teacher' for a 12th grade class.

The 59-year-old was able to tell students about her own personal experience of growing up in east Germany before the collapse of Communism.

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In 2005, she became the first German chancellor to have grown up in the Communist east, and is old enough to recall the construction of the wall.

"It was 1961, the same year I started school," Merkel said as she arrived at the Heinrich Schliemann secondary school in the now-upscale district of Prenzlauer Berg, according to Agence France-Presse. She signed her name on the chalkboard before beginning her class, which was closed to reporters.

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On the morning of August 13, 1961, East Berliners woke to find soldiers had blocked off the streets, cut off rail links and begun building a wall that eventually stretched to over 96 miles. At least 136 people died trying to flee across the border before it eventually fell in 1989.

Merkel's right-of-center party is tipped to win the September 22 federal election, according to recent opinion polls.