Bayreuth / Berlin (dpa) – At the short crown-tied reception after the Bayreuth Festival, Joachim Sauer stands a bit on the sidelines on Sunday evening. But then his wife beckons him – so he’s also on it, in the photo.

This is the case with Professor Sauer, the husband of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). He’s not looking for the flash, and he probably doesn’t like it either. Once, a few years ago, he made his opinion clear to festival-goers who photographed his wife on a private visit and came too close for his liking.

The Phantom of the Opera

Otherwise, he is rather calm, the man who was Germany’s first first husband in the Chancellery for almost 16 years. The festival, which the Merkel / Sauer couple attend almost every year because they’re both big Wagner fans, is one of the few occasions where Sauer shows up alongside Merkel – just before they go on to continue. traditionally both trekking in South Tyrol.

The press dubbed the classical music fan “the phantom of the opera”. He has never given interviews in his role as the Chancellor’s husband. Stories like in the days of Hannelore Kohl? Unthinkable. It’s not clear to the public what it looks like in the two’s apartment on Berlin’s Museum Island or in the weekend house in Brandenburg.

Sauer has rarely been on overseas trips – he was just there when Merkel visited the United States, they were invited to dinner at the house of presidential couple Joe and Jill Biden. And now again Wagner: When Sauer was absent from the traditional opening on July 25, 2019, there were rumors about the Chancellor’s married life, although he was a few days later when most cameras were on. parties and that Merkel was only there in private – as always in their place at the front right in the stalls – was already by their side again.

No appendix

In the last year of Merkel’s tenure, he showed up again on Sunday evening for the official party: as always in a tuxedo, with a bow tie and a hedgehog cut off alongside his wife, this time dressed in orange. The two wore masks in a deep black partner look.

When Sauer is followed by a new partner in the Chancellery after the federal elections in September, things will be different than before: Merkel’s husband has naturally continued his professional life as an internationally renowned quantum chemist and professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin. It should set standards. In 2021 you no longer need to be an appendix or “the woman / man behind…” at the Chancellery. Sauer even stayed away from his wife’s first three swearing-in sessions in the Bundestag – he was only there at the fourth and final ceremony in 2018. He had opened the laptop in the stands of the Bundestag.

Perhaps thanks to Mr. Sauer, the “women’s program” is now called the “partner program” at major political summits. And in terms of content, Sauer was also a style designer. In 2007, at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, he hiked with the ladies to Schlitz Castle in Mecklenburg – and expanded the program, which is often limited to art, culture and tourism, to include a scientific lecture by the director of the Rostock Max Planck Institute, James W. Vaupel, on population trends in the G8 countries.

In 2015, at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, after a summer ride in a flowered carriage, the biophysicist and director of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Wolfgang Heckl, gave a talk on “Nanotechnology as a key technology for the 21st century. Century ”. Specifically, they were nano-coated links that repel dirty water. Basic knowledge for a chancellor’s husband.

Protection of private life

Sauer has hardly spoken to the press, at most with regard to his research and his field of specialization, as in 2017 in the “Berliner Zeitung”. The native of Lusatia is considered a bit brittle and cranky: As a journalist, asking him about his wife at the bread buffet is not a good idea. But it can also be entertaining, as in his speech celebrating the 80th birthday of songwriter Wolf Biermann in the Berliner Ensemble, as described in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. Merkel’s connoisseur Evelyn Roll also said: The two had “done well in terms of style”, protecting their privacy.

The couple met in GDR-era 1984 at the East Berlin Academy of Sciences, and Sauer supervised the young physicist during her doctoral thesis. Sober and down to earth, both share these characteristics, as Merkel biographer Ralph Bollmann writes. She once called him a “good guy”. Years ago, Merkel told a panel discussion that of course she talks to her husband about politics. Even in the days of the GDR, Sauer was an eminently political figure who always discussed world affairs with his partner, Bollmann said.

Both enjoy cross country skiing and hiking. The photos show a vacation together in South Tyrol or South Italy. How things will continue after the end of their tenure for the Merkel / Sauer couple is open. But it can be assumed that what she said in her dry way at her last summer press conference also applies to him: then she will be able to do something in time.