Break for those killed in the corona pandemic | Free press


Berlin (dpa) – It should be a time to pause in the daily corona incidence rates, the lockdown debate and the vaccination campaign.

This Sunday, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier wants to give a face and a voice to all those who all too often fall short in daily life: the deceased and their relatives. The pandemic had already claimed 79,628 lives on Friday – “a shocking, disturbing dimension,” Steinmeier said in an interview with next of kin in early March, when the number of deaths was several thousand lower.

On this Sunday, the heads of the five constitutional bodies come together as the highest representatives of the state – first for an ecumenical service in Berlin’s Gedächtniskirche and later for the actual commemorative meeting at the Konzerthaus on Gendarmenmarkt. It will be a small-scale monument together with five people who lost loved ones during the pandemic. This is due to the contagion situation and at the same time symbolizes the loneliness in which many people die during the pandemic and in which their loved ones are often left behind.

From the standpoint of the council president of the Evangelical Church (EKD) in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, this memory of the state is indispensable. “The death rate is so dramatic that that’s exactly what we need now. An entire society mourns far too many deaths here, which deserves public sympathy, ”said the regional bishop in an interview with the German news agency.

Grief isn’t just a private thing. “There is also such a thing as public pastoral care.” This is exactly what is needed now. “It plays a big role whether people who are grieving feel that they are supported by a community, perhaps even the community of an entire country. As a church, we know very well the importance of being supported by prayer and the sympathy of other people. “

In recent months, incidence rates, virological findings and practical questions from everyday life have been at the forefront, Bedford-Strohm says. “But what this virus does to the soul has received far too little public attention.” That is why it is good and important that the subject of dying and death comes up now. “And the fact is that public acts are an important place for this.” The Chairman of the Council of the EKD, together with the Chairman of the Catholic Conference of Bishops, Bishop Georg Bätzing, will hold the ecumenical service prior to the commemoration.

A public act – the Federal President sees it as an offer to society, knowing that grief, compassion and empathy cannot be dictated by the state. And that one reminder alone cannot of what Corona does for individuals and society. This act should not only commemorate the deceased and provide comfort to their loved ones. Steinmeier wants to continue. He deliberately does not speak about the deceased or victims of the pandemic, but rather in the context of the pandemic. From his point of view, it is about saying goodbye with dignity to those “who did not fall victim to the virus, but who died just as lonely,” as he said in a conversation with the next of kin.

Steinmeier also wants to point out the fate of those who – without being infected – have been harmed by the virus and its battle, the presidential office said beforehand. For example, those who have fallen ill from isolation and loneliness or who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse. Last but not least, he wants to remember the doctors and nurses who fought day and night for the lives of their patients. And still fighting. And those who are just about to be overwhelmed because the intensive care units are packed with critically ill patients at breakneck speed.

The moment of the break, which Steinmeier is working on, should encompass the entire country as much as possible. Service and memorial services are broadcast live on ARD and ZDF. Small commemorative events are planned in many municipalities. Nationally, the flags on public buildings are hoisted at half mast on Sunday. And the prime ministers of all 16 countries called on their citizens on Friday to light a candle in the window until Sunday night. This form of commemoration under the hashtag «#lichtfenster» can also be traced back to Steinmeier.