Who’s who in the German world? Here’s a list of Germany’s most famous (living) talents, from politicians to internationally renown German celebrities.
It’s not exactly the USA, but Germany does have its stars and several are internationally popular or well-known. They range from those who are active in politics to designers, models, sportspeople and religious personalities.
As Chancellor at the time of writing, Angela Merkel is a most powerful German. Merkel was born on 17 July 1954 in Hamburg.
However, only a few days after her birth the family migrated to the German Democratic Republic (DDR) where Merkel lived until reunification. The politician studied as a 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 Berlin 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.
One of the most successful German exports, supermodel Heidi Klum has been residing in the USA since 1993 but keeps in touch with her Bergisch-Gladbach roots. The model was born on 1 June 1973. Her international career started in 1992; she subsequently moved to New York City to prepare for her big break. Today she handles her career as model, presenter, producer and businesswoman while raising her children. Klum is popular on both sides of the Atlantic.
After being discovered in Düsseldorf’s club Checkers, blond beauty Claudia Schiffer became one of the most successful models of the 1980s.
Schiffer was born on 25 August 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 many years afterwards. Nonetheless she managed her career with continuing success on the catwalks and as a photo model. Today she is still active whilst caring for her children.
Actually, his name is Karl Otto Lagerfeldt but almost certainly the fashion artist would not care to be reminded of this, since for him, history and the even immediate past are always long passé. He is firmly, perhaps fundamentally based in the here and now. Somewhat accordingly he also keeps silent about his birth year, either 10 September 1933 or 1938.
Age seems obsolete anyway when you keep reinventing your surroundings. Lagerfeld is one of the most famous and popular contemporary designers in the world; his turn-over rate of collections, inspirations and circles is quite astonishing. He appears to have endless energy plus an interest in current lifestyle, transcending the boundaries of fashion.
In his early teens Lagerfeld and his mother moved from Hamburg to Paris where the designer started his career. He would later become the revolutionary of Chanel eleven years after Madame Chanel’s death thus giving the bourgeois and dying label a somewhat rebellious and crisp makeover.
During his career he has worked for a variety of well-known fashion labels and also eventually launched his own brand. The fashion designer is also a photographer and an avid collector of books.
Graf was born Stefanie Maria Graf on 14 June 1969 in Mannheim. However, 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 at 13 years 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 developed a training concept and created a foundation helping traumatised children throughout the world.
In the 1980s 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 22 November 1967 in Leimen, Becker turned professional in 1984. He retired from sports in 1999 and today works as a tennis expert and sports commentator.
Born on 3 January 1969 in Hürth-Hermülheim, Michael Schumacher was for many years an extraordinarily successful Formula 1 driver, racing for Ferrari. In 2006 however he changed his red overall for a suit and retired from his career. Schumacher enjoys playing soccer and horseback riding in his free time with his children. He spends a lot of his fortune for charitable causes; for instance, he donated USD 10 million for aid relief after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
Known as both an actor and producer, Til Schweiger has spent some years in the United States and in the movies on home soil. Schweiger was born on 19 December 1963 in Freiburg and initially wanted to become a teacher like his parents before him, then a doctor venturing into medicine for three semesters until he found his true vocation in acting.
Anne-Sophie Mutter is a world-famous violinist. Born in Rheinfelden on June 29 1963, she started playing the piano aged five but switched to the violin at seven and found her vocation. She turned music into her career at the age of 14 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 24 May 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 19 April 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 cherishing and unifying ring to it. That the Bavarian cardinal was appointed to represent the highest office in the Vatican was quite unexpected for many, including for the man himself.
The 265th Pontiff even admitted that he would have happily devoted his time to writing and studying instead but ceded to the vocation with bravura. Ever since his inauguration, the Pope has received both recognition and criticism. 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 16 April 1927 in the small Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn.