Ida Auken always likes to come to Berlin. The first time she travelled from Copenhagen to the German capital was back in 2001 – on a DAAD scholarship to study theology at the Humboldt-Universität. She still feels today that it was a good decision: “It was a very informative period, not only because theology has a different tradition in Germany and is based on a broader basic education, but also because I made lots of friends in Berlin and have spoken fluent German since my stay there.” She was also more than satisfied with her professor, Wolf Krötke: “He took me under his wing – it was wonderful. We don’t have this principle of the Chair in the same way in Denmark. It’s him I have to thank for my broadly based basic education, something that is expected in Germany.”
I developed a different view of myself and my country while I was in Germany.
– Ida Auken
Studying theology was a matter of extending her world view, a mixture of precision and imagination. But in the end, Ida Auken was attracted to practical politics – although she had not planned it. “Born into a family of politicians, I was socialised in a political way, but that wasn’t a reason for me to follow suit to begin with.”
In 2003 she joined the Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF, Socialist People’s Party), and in October 2011 the SF joined the government in Denmark in a coalition with the Social Liberals and Social Democrats. Ida Auken, who was born in 1978, became Denmark’s green left Environment Minister, an office she held until February 2014. That same year, she quit the SF and joined the left liberal party Det Radikale Venstre – the social liberal party in German political terms.
The experience she gained as a DAAD scholarship holder has always stood her in good stead on the international stage: “As a politician, I have to have my feet firmly on solid ground and speak freely; my time in Berlin helped a lot in this respect.” And her language skills are, of course, really helpful for contacts with politicians from Denmark’s big neighbour: “Of course, many German politicians also speak English, but it really is different when you can talk in your native language. It means we get on first-name terms quite quickly, which is anything but automatic in Germany.”