"When the fir tree stands in the Courtyard of Honour, we know Christmas is coming," declared Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday evening, when she was presented with a 14-metre high Nordmann fir at the Federal Chancellery. The tree is from Schleswig-Holstein and is about 20 years old. It comes from Weihnachtsbäume Holstein KG in Schmalfeld and is a gift from the Association of Forest Owners in Schleswig-Holstein.
A cherished tradition
Chancellor Angela Merkel officially took receipt of the tree along with Helge Braun, Head of the Federal Chancellery, and the Federal Government Commissioner for Integration Annette Widmann-Mauz. The traditional Christmas carol "Alle Jahre wieder" rang out across the courtyard, as the Lazarus band from Berlin provided the musical accompaniment.
A silver fir from the municipal forest of Rottenburg in Baden-Württemberg now graces the southern stairway on the ground floor. A gift from the town of Rottenburg, it is between 25 and 28 years old. Another tree in the Chancellor’s Gallery on the first floor ensures a Christmas flair there too. The Norway spruce is a gift from the town of Gießen. It comes from the Lollar forest and is about 15 years old.
The three brightly lit trees make for a festive pre-Christmas atmosphere at the heart of the German government. The Chancellor thanked the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) and the fire brigade for their support. The trees were presented in good time before the first Sunday in Advent by Hans-Georg von der Marwitz, President of the Federation of German Forest Owner Associations (AGDW).
Forests – cause for concern
Yet, in spite of all the joy the beautiful trees brought, the official presentation had a thought-provoking side to it. The Chancellor expressed her regret that forests have suffered so much damage, particularly over the last two years.
By way of assistance, Angela Merkel pointed to the Forest Summit that took place at the end of September. "Between 2020 and 2023, the German government plans to invest a total of 547 million euros to make good some of the damage,“ explained the Chancellor. Hans-Georg von der Marwitz confirmed that it had indeed been a difficult year for forests. And he thanked the Chancellor for her recognition and respect. "Forests are the most important lung of our country," he declared.
On Tuesday a fir tree was put up at the government guest house in Schloss Meseberg. The 20-year-old grand fir is about 12 years old and comes from the Gransee forest.