Fairy tales are where you find them, but any number seem to begin in the dark German woods where Angela Merkel spent her childhood. The girl who would grow up to be called the most powerful woman in the world came of age in a glade dappled by the northern sun and shadowed by tall pines. Her family's house stood three stories, and the steep rake of its tile roof held an attic window in the shape of a half-open eye. Strangers walked on the paths below, passing residents who often moved at curious gaits. Cries of anguish were sometimes heard. To adults, Waldhof was home to the Lutheran seminary run by Merkel's father, an isolated compound'”'forest court' in English'”that hosted students and other short-term visitors while also functioning as a home and workplace for mentally disabled adults. But to a child of 3, Angela's age when her family arrived, it was a world unto itself, and would remain so until she went to school in the adjoining town of Templin. There, she came to realize that, like the 17 million other residents of East Germany, she actually was living within the walls of a fortress.
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Angela Merkel is TIME's 2015 Person Of The Year | TIME