Berlin (dpa) – Germany mourned the death of former president Richard von Weizsaecker Sunday as the government announced he would be honoured with a state funeral on February 11.
The ceremony for the former head of state, who died Saturday at the age of 94, will be led by Germany’s current president, Joachim Gauck.
Von Weizsaecker, the first president of a unified Germany, is especially remembered for a speech he gave in the West German capital, Bonn, on May 8, 1985, the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II.
In it, he blasted the crimes committed by the Nazis and spoke of the end of the war as a time of liberation, not defeat.
Gauck called him a “moral authority.” In a letter to his widow, Marianne Freifrau von Weizsaecker, Gauck wrote, “We are losing a great person and an outstanding head of state.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel also praised him, saying, “The manner in which he carried out his duties as president from 1984 to 1994 set standards.”
“The death of Richard von Weizsaecker is a great loss for Germany,” she said. The former president was one of the Germany’s most important and respected figures, she said.