Berlin (dpa) – A good year after the outbreak of the corona pandemic, the leaders of the German state and the churches thought about the nearly 80,000 dead and expressed their condolences to the relatives.
At the central commemoration ceremony, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also called on society to stay together. “Let us not allow the pandemic, which forces us to distance ourselves as human beings, also tearing us apart as a society,” he said in the Berlin concert hall on the Gendarmenmarkt. Earlier, the churches had comforted the mourners in an ecumenical service in the Gedächtniskirche.
The Federal President stressed, “As a society, we want to commemorate those who died a lonely and often painful death in these dark times.” The people who mourn their deceased relatives should be told, “You are not the only one in your sorrow, not the only one in your sorrow.” Many people endlessly tormented themselves for not being able to help the dying relatives on the final journey, Steinmeier said. “Dying in the pandemic, that was, and that is often dying without support and goodbye.”
In addition to grief, some people also have “bitterness and anger,” the head of state said. He could understand this. “Politicians had to make difficult, sometimes tragic decisions to avoid an even greater catastrophe.” Politics also had to learn. Where there were errors and omissions they should be dealt with, but not on that day, Steinmeier said.
“My request today is: let’s talk about pain and suffering and anger. But let’s not lose ourselves by blaming, by looking back, but let’s regain strength for the way forward, the way out of the pandemic that we want and will go if we tackle it together. “
Five relatives and the heads of the other four constitutional bodies took part in the commemoration ceremony organized by Steinmeier: Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Council President Reiner Haseloff, Chancellor Angela Merkel (all CDU) and President of the Federal Constitutional Court, Stephan Harbarth. Berlin Prime Minister Michael Müller (SPD) and a representative of the Diplomatic Corps had also come to the event, which took place under the strictest hygiene measures.
In many cities and towns in Germany, smaller commemorative events were held at the same time. All over the country, flags were hung at half mast in front of public buildings.
In Germany, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute, 79,914 people died on Sunday from or with proven infection with Sars-CoV-2.
Steinmeier stressed that the pandemic had “left deep wounds and ripped holes in terrible ways” – in Germany, Europe and worldwide. “And we know it’s not over yet.” At the same time, he instilled confidence: “We will leave the pandemic behind us!” Day after day, more people reached safe shores thanks to the vaccination: “We will be close again as humans and reunited as a society,” the Federal President stressed.
In the ecumenical service, which was organized by clergy of the Jewish and Islamic faith, the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, said: Lives of many people. Death and dying have come closer to us than before. That is why it is good to stop and remember the many dead.
“The crisis experience of the pandemic era lies on our souls like a trauma, crying out for healing,” said the chairman of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm. “We will take a long time to process it, especially our children, our adolescents, for whom this crisis feels like an eternity.”