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State funeral service in Berlin

Last respects to a great German

Germany has taken leave of former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker with a memorial service. Federal President Joachim Gauck described him as a great German and an exception Federal President. Few people "brought our country respect and affection" as he did.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bundesrat President Volker Bouffier and the President of the Federal Constitutional Court Andreas Voßkuhle pay their last respects to Richard von Weizsäcker. Paying their last respects to Richard von Weizsäcker. Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Joachim Gauck said that Richard von Weizsäcker was a President "from the top of his head to the soles of his feet". He has left his mark on the history of Germany. "Richard von Weizsäcker gave us inspiration and direction during his long professional career," declared the Federal President. Everything that Richard von Weizsäcker said, was born of a wealth of experience, an independent mind and a meticulous check against his conscience.

"We pay tribute"

Joachim Gauck looked back to the watershed speech given by Richard Weizsäcker on 8 May 1985 to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the war. This speech did his country an outstanding service. And with this speech and his attitude he stood for the courage to embrace the truth.

"For most Germans Richard von Weizsäcker was the incarnation of a good President," Joachim Gauck continued. "Through their affection for him, the Germans learned to like themselves." The Federal President finally expressed his deep-felt and great gratitude to his predecessor. "We pay tribute to Richard von Weizsäcker, a great Federal President, who said and did the right thing."

Richard von Weizsäcker (1920 – 2015) Richard von Weizsäcker was Federal President from 1984 to 1994. He served as Governing Mayor of Berlin before taking office as Federal President. On his election to this post, he promised to be "President of all citizens".

Translating words into deeds

The funeral service in Berlin’s Cathedral was attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble as well as Federal President Joachim Gauck and Bundestag President Norbert Lammert.

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier described the former President as a man of words, and a man who translated these words into deeds. Death cannot end his achievements, declared Steinmeier. Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble looked back at Richard von Weizsäcker as a great personality and "a head of state whom we all respected".

Alongside family, friends and companions, leading personalities from the realms of politics, religion, business and culture from inside and outside Germany came to pay their last respects to the former Federal President. The funeral service was followed by a military farewell ceremony in front of the Cathedral.

He rendered our country outstanding service, says Chancellor

Following the announcement of the death of Richard von Weizsäcker on 31 January, Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the former Federal President as one of the most important and most respected personalities in Germany.

"He rendered outstanding service to our country. We will not forget him," said the Chancellor. His period of office as Federal President from 1984 to 1994 set standards, she continued. "He wanted to provide direction, as he himself said, and he more than lived up to his own expectations," declared Angela Merkel.

Feb 11, 2015