DAccording to a media report, CDU politician Wolfgang Schäuble, who died at the end of 2023, was pressured by former CSU leader Edmund Stoiber during the refugee crisis in 2015 to overthrow then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) in the refugee crisis. According to an advance report in the magazine “Stern” on Wednesday, this emerges from Schäuble’s memoirs.

According to the report, Schäuble mentions a name for the first time in connection with plans for a coup during the refugee crisis in 2015. The situation in the Union became difficult in autumn 2015. “The highlight was the CSU party conference, when the Bavarian Prime Minister and CSU chairman (Horst Seehofer) defied the Chancellor like a schoolgirl,” says the still unpublished memoirs. “In the meantime, Edmund Stoiber also became active and encouraged Seehofer, his successor in the prime ministership, in his attacks against Merkel. And he wanted to persuade me to overthrow Merkel so that I could become chancellor myself.”

But that wasn't an option for Schäuble. “I firmly refused. As was the case with (Helmut) Kohl decades before, I remained convinced that the fall of our own chancellor could only harm our party in the long term without really solving the problem,” continues according to “Stern”. That was his understanding of loyalty.

“The debate amused me”

According to the report, Schäuble had already reported on plans to overthrow Merkel on the ZDF program “Markus Lanz” in December 2022, but did not mention any names. In his memoirs, according to “Stern” he says: “The whole debate almost amused me a little, because I knew my age, had been paraplegic for more than a quarter of a century and had overall poor health.”

In the passages published by “Stern”, Schäuble, who died in December, reiterated his fundamental support for Merkel's decision to keep the German borders open to refugees in autumn 2015, but also expressed criticism of her actions on the issue. “When the Chancellor made the decision on September 4, 2015, which in retrospect was central to this crisis, to keep the borders open in view of the catastrophic conditions at the Budapest train station, where thousands of refugees were stranded, I thought this was for humanitarian and European policy reasons right,” he writes.

He supported Merkel to the best of his ability and he also found her sentence “We can do it” correct. “Those were strong statements. They simply should have been accompanied by a large number of other measures and efforts to make it clear that this unique emergency measure was unrepeatable.” In contrast to the Chancellor, he believed it was right to “pour the citizens pure wine and make it clear that “The commitment to the refugees also involves costs and sacrifices.” He was occasionally frustrated that “Merkel remained resistant to advice in some respects. In my opinion, she would have had completely different options to really lead politically and not just react.”

Schäuble died on December 26th at the age of 81. He has been a member of the Bundestag since 1972, was the Union parliamentary group leader, was a federal minister several times and was President of the Bundestag from 2017 to 2021. His book “Memories. My Life in Politics” will be published next week.

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