A picture of an active, courageous, determined, honest and kind woman:
Is it a fortune to have the courage to break new ground?
Angelika Grill came to Kiel in 1967 to study Geography and Biology at the Christian-Albrechts-University to become a teacher. She is a person who likes to tackle things. Taking quick steps is not wrong for her. Everything has a meaning. She floats through life. She met her future husband, Klaus Volquartz, after a month in Kiel. For her the next steps to get married and start a family were quite natural.
Family was happiness. To have the courage to go new ways is still obvious for her today. It is family that gives life a framework of values and opens new possibilities and perspectives.
The Student and Young Mother
First studies, then family? Not with Mrs. Volquartz. The readings, the exams, the baby required a lot of improvisation and the support of her husband, which she always got. “He was an amazing father, who was extraordinarily supportive of the generation because he loved our daughter very much”. She also received support from her parents, who lived 200 km away.
Her mother, who was also known as ” Sister Sunshine” in the hospital where she worked, raised her with the greatest love. She shaped her and gave her clear attitudes and “Prussian virtues”. Her father, an Austrian, an “unbelievably cheerful person, who carried the whole simplicity of being within himself and loosened up the strict attitudes of her mother”, was responsible for the life philosophical questions. The members of the family understood: Mother sets the rules. This is how Angelika Volquatz describes the family in her book “Mein Herz schlägt in Kiel (My heart beats in Kiel)”, which was published by Wachholtz-Verlag. “This is how I grew up, independent and self-reliant”. When she later worked as a teacher in Mettenhof and as a principal in Elmschenhagen and gave support to the students, she was a non-authoritative authority. The students appreciated her style: tough but fair. If someone obeys the rules, life is easier, and you don’t have to put your hands on the hot stove to know that it hurts.
She carried forward the confidence and orientation from her family. But life does not stick to programs, life has its own dynamics. Crises come and one must not become hysterical but can peacefully resolve the tensions. Without a fight, change the world indulgently, build trust, emphasize the social. This has been expressed in her actions and thinking. With her team from “Mach Mittag” (eng, “Make Lunch”) she has ensured for many school children from needy families that they get a warm lunch in the school canteen, financed by donations.
The initiative, which she started together with Klaus and Hannelore Murmann, has been collecting donations since 2011. Since September 1, 2019, all needy schoolchildren in Germany have been receiving a warm meal after the Bundestag parliament approved the draft bill of the Ministry of Labor and Family Affairs. A dream come true for Mrs. Angelika Volquartz and many children in everyday school life.
One must improvise in life. Change, rethink, go a different way, learn from your mistakes and achieve the best. Feel, then decide. “Boss, what does your gut feel?” the consultants asked at the end of a debate in the city hall. “A certain amount of emotion is necessary, not just the intelligence quotient,” said the former mayor, who cared about the well-being of the people of Kiel and who bore full responsibility together with the council for their decisions for other people. She greatly valued her team, which consisted of competent men and women who advised her. She had many male supporters – and yet at the same time had to stand up to the men’s world in politics. It was pure competition and she had no difficulty in asserting herself. It was only the skills that counted. She was totally for equal rights and accepted all competitors in the election campaign. In the local elections in March 1990 she won the only direct council mandate for the CDU and thus began her proud political career.
Women’s Rights Activist
Growing up in a strong family, in which equality played a major role from the very beginning, has shaped her. “Why am I the way I am?” She asked herself this question in her adult life, after she had gone into politics as an educational politician and always kept women’s rights in mind. What was the path to the woman she is today? She was shocked when a leading official of the Ministry of Education, with whom she inquired about schools for her traineeship, said that she did not have to work. She led a scathing conversation with him. The three-year-old daughter on her lap felt that it was something important and sat very still. “You really want to work, you really want to be a teacher,” the official wondered. Stunned, she asked her husband at home: “How is that possible, this attitude?
She knows today that women are more prudent and think more comprehensively. Operating cell phones, using computers and looking after the child at the same time – women do this every day: they are real multitasking talents, says Angelika Volquartz.
Society has changed. Many want more women to determine the paths in politics. “Women make a different contribution to our society than men, but in no way less,” said Ms. Schele, the chairwoman of the Federal Association for Women’s Counseling Centers and Women’s Emergency Hotlines and co-founder of Frauennotruf Kiel e.V. and Managing Director of Petze, in one of her thanksgiving speeches.
Strong, Active & Networked
Women should face the competition and reflect the population in politics, if not otherwise possible with the help of the women’s quota. “That’s why we still need committed women who make equality a public issue. Rethinking must take place at home, in strong families. Some women still must learn the courage to take responsibility,” said Angelika Volquartz. A strong woman like Angela Merkel is a role model for this.
With her ambition to live freely and self-determined, she has proven that family and career can be combined. She was awarded the distinguished Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier for her social commitment to children and women.
Today Angelika Volquartz is as happy as ever and her family continues to hold together, even though her daughter lives with her family in Salzburg while she lives with her husband in Kiel.
(Angelika Volquartz was a member of the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament from 1992 to 1998, a member of the German Bundestag from 1998 to 2003, chief mayor of Kiel from 2003 to 2009, and a member of the CDU federal executive committee from 2000 to 2010. In 2014 she was awarded honorary citizenship/freemanship) of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, in 2018 the Federal Cross of Merit).
Author/Layout: Anna Orlowski
Photos: Thomas W.
Illustrations: L. Thein