Famous Living

Active German personalities

Written by Carla C. Degen and last edited by Garry on


Not exactly America but Germany does have its stars and some are either internationally popular or well known. They range from those who are active in politics, designers, models, sportspeople and religious personalities.

Angela Merkel

As Chancellor at the time of writing, Angela Merkel is a most powerful German. Merkel was born on July 17, 1954 in Hamburg. 
However, only a few days after their daughter’s birth the family migrated to the German Democratic Republic (DDR) where Merkel lived until reunification. The politician is a studied natural 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 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.

Heidi Klum

One of the most successful German exports, super model Heidi Klum has been residing in the USA since 1993 but keeps in touch with her Bergisch-Gladbach roots. The model was born on June 1, 1973. Her international career started in 1992; she subsequently moved to New York City preparing her break through. Today she handles her career as model, presenter, producer and businesswoman while raising her children. Klum is popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Claudia Schiffer

After being discovered in Düsseldorf’s club Checker’s, blond beauty Claudia Schiffer became one of the most successful models of the 1980s.
Schiffer was born on August 25, 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 little charmingly many years afterwards. But she nonetheless fruitfully managed her career with continuing success on the catwalks and as a photo model. Today she is still active whilst caring for her children.

Karl Lagerfeld

Actually, his name is Karl Otto Lagerfeldt but almost certainly the fashion artist would not particularly 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 September 10, 1933 or 1938.

Age seems obsolete anyway when you keep reinventing your surroundings. Lagerfeld is one of the famous and popular contemporary designers in the world; his turn-over-rate of collections, inspirations and circles is quite astonishing. Endless energy and an endless interest in the currents of lifestyle transcending the boundaries of fashion is a noteworthy trait of the man.

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 different well-known fashion labels and also eventually launched his own brand. The fashion designer is also a photographer and an avid collector of books.

Steffi Graf

Graf was born Stefanie Maria Graf on June 14, 1969 in Mannheim. But 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 as a 13-year-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 development a training concept and created a foundation helping traumatized children throughout the world. Graf lives with her husband and their children.

Boris Becker

In the eighties 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 November 22, 1967, in Leimen, Becker turned professional in 1984. He retired from sports in 1999 and today works as a tennis expert and sports commentator.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher was born on January 3, 1969 in Hürth-Hermülheim and was for many years an extraordinarily successful Formula 1 pilot 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 as the father of his children. He spends a lot of his fortune for charitable causes; for instance, he donated $10 million for aid after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

Til Schweiger

Known as actor and producer, Til Schweiger has spent some years in the United States and in the movies on home soil. Schweiger was born December 19, 1963 in Freiburg and initially wanted to become a teacher like his parents before him, then a doctor venturing into medicine for 3 semesters until he found his true vocation in acting.

Anne-Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter is a world-famous violinist. Born in Rheinfelden on June 29, 1963, she started playing the piano at five but switched to the violin at seven and found her vocation. She turned music into her career at the age of fourteen 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 May 24, 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 April 19, 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 sort of cherishing and unifying ring to it. That the Bavarian cardinal was appointed to represent the highest office at the Vatican was quite unexpected for many, including for the man of God himself.

The 265th Pontiff even admitted that he would have happily devoted his time to writing and studying instead but obviously gave into the vocation with bravura. Ever since his inauguration, the Pope has both received recognition and critique. 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 April 16, 1927 in the small Bavarian town of Marktl am Inn.