PICTURES

Merkel plays history teacher on Berlin Wall anniversary

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) has her picture taken with a pupil as she arrives for a visit to the Heinz Schliemann grammar school in Berlin, Aug 13, 2013. Ms Merkel on Tuesday delivered a guest history lecture on the erection of the Berlin
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) has her picture taken with a pupil as she arrives for a visit to the Heinz Schliemann grammar school in Berlin, Aug 13, 2013. Ms Merkel on Tuesday delivered a guest history lecture on the erection of the Berlin Wall to grammar school pupils, on the anniversary of the building of the inner German border fortification. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd right) poses with 6th graders, identical triplets Marlene (left), Charlotte (2nd left) and Elizabeth, after arriving at the Heinz Schliemann grammar school in Berlin, Aug 13, 2013. Ms Merkel on Tuesday delivered a
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd right) poses with 6th graders, identical triplets Marlene (left), Charlotte (2nd left) and Elizabeth, after arriving at the Heinz Schliemann grammar school in Berlin, Aug 13, 2013. Ms Merkel on Tuesday delivered a guest history lecture on the erection of the Berlin Wall to grammar school pupils, on the anniversary of the building of the inner German border fortification. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
German Chancellor Angela Merkel writes her name on the black board before starting her lecture on the building of the Berlin wall on Aug 13,1961, to a 12th grade class during her visit to the Heinrich Schliemann Gymnasium, secondary school in Berlin,
German Chancellor Angela Merkel writes her name on the black board before starting her lecture on the building of the Berlin wall on Aug 13,1961, to a 12th grade class during her visit to the Heinrich Schliemann Gymnasium, secondary school in Berlin, Germany on Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel writes her name on the black board and starts her lecture on the building of the Berlin wall on Aug 13,1961, to a 12th grade class during her visit to the Heinrich Schliemann Gymnasium, secondary school in Berlin, Germ
German Chancellor Angela Merkel writes her name on the black board and starts her lecture on the building of the Berlin wall on Aug 13,1961, to a 12th grade class during her visit to the Heinrich Schliemann Gymnasium, secondary school in Berlin, Germany on Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel bows as she enters the classroom to lecture on the building of the Berlin Wall on Aug 13, 1961, to a 12th grade class during her visit to the Heinrich Schliemann Gymnasium, secondary school in Berlin, Germany on Aug 13
German Chancellor Angela Merkel bows as she enters the classroom to lecture on the building of the Berlin Wall on Aug 13, 1961, to a 12th grade class during her visit to the Heinrich Schliemann Gymnasium, secondary school in Berlin, Germany on Aug 13, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, campaigning for a third term, filled in as a school history teacher on Tuesday on the 52nd anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. -- PHOTO: AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, campaigning for a third term, filled in as a school history teacher on Tuesday on the 52nd anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. -- PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, campaigning for a third term, filled in as a school history teacher on Tuesday on the 52nd anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall.

Merkel, who is leading in opinion polls ahead of next month's general election, returned from a two-week holiday to sit in on the class of sixth formers in east Berlin.

In 2005 she became the first chancellor who grew up in the communist east and she shared with pupils a few memories of the day when the East German authorities closed the border.

"It was 1961, the same year I started school," she said as she arrived at the Heinrich Schliemann secondary school in the now upscale district of Prenzlauer Berg.

"My favourite subjects back then were languages, German and maths." Merkel, 59, visited at the invitation of a youth magazine and accepted bouquets of flowers from excited pupils, who posed for smart-phone pictures with the chancellor in front of the school.

Wearing a teal blazer, Merkel signed her name in chalk on the blackboard next to a map of Berlin before beginning her class.

It was her first public appearance since her summer break in the Tyrolean Alps with less than six weeks to go until the September 22 vote, and apparently designed to capitalise on her enormous personal popularity.

Reporters were not granted access to the lecture but Merkel answered a few questions before speaking to students.

The childless Merkel, who said she had never taught before and hadn't been in a classroom in decades, swotted up on her Cold War history before giving the lesson.

"It's quite a difference between having personal experiences and teaching facts," said Merkel, a trained physicist.

She is to hit the campaign trail in earnest this week with a rally in the business capital Frankfurt on Wednesday.