Longtime Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher is dead. The FDP politician died on Friday night at the age of 89. The two major churches also pay tribute to the life’s work of the evangelical Christian.
Germany’s longest-serving foreign minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, died of cardiovascular failure Thursday night surrounded by his family at his home in Wachtberg-Pech, according to his personal office in Bonn. He lived to the age of 89.
Genscher, whose trademark was a yellow sweater, was foreign minister for 18 years (1974 to 1992) and played a key role in the negotiations on German unity. From 1974 to 1985, he led the FDP. He was one of the most popular top politicians in Germany and one of the defining personalities of the Liberals. Again and again he had to struggle with health problems. In 1992, surprisingly for many, he resigned from office at the age of 65. 1998, he also left the Bundestag after 33 years of service.
Formative for the Bonn Republic
Genscher shaped the politics of the "Bonn Republic" like few others. The FDP politician experienced what was probably the greatest triumph of his 23 years in government on 30. September 1989 in Prague. When he told GDR citizens who had fled to the German Embassy that they could continue their journey to the West, his announcement "I have come to tell you" went unheeded. .." in an unprecedented jubilation among.
Alongside Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU), the Foreign Minister was one of the leading German politicians who recognized and seized the opportunities for reunification. On 9. The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989. Genscher secured unity in foreign policy up to the ratification of the two-plus-four treaty.
In the first all-German elections on 2. December 1990 Genscher experienced another triumph. The FDP achieved dream results. In his hometown of Halle and in Saxony-Anhalt, where he was particularly active after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was celebrated like a king. Even after his retirement from active politics, Genscher frequently spoke out. He has been awarded numerous prizes and honorary doctorates for his achievements.
Diverse church commitment
The President of the German Bishops’ Conference Reinhard Cardinal Marx praised Genscher as a "visionary of German foreign policy" and an exemplary politician. Genscher was a convinced European "who was always guided by Christian principles," the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference said in Bonn on Friday afternoon. The bishops are "grateful for his good and trusting dialogue with the Catholic Church in Germany".
Marx expressly emphasized the deceased’s numerous appearances at Catholic congresses, as well as his commitment to church aid organizations, which Genscher "always accompanied positively" as Federal Foreign Minister. "In this moment of farewell, we look back with gratitude on the life and work of the deceased," said Marx.
Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) also reacted "with great sadness" to Genscher’s death. The President of the EKD Synod, Irmgard Schwaetzer, praised Genscher as a "European bridge builder" whose actions had always been shaped by his Christian faith. "For him, the dialogue between churches and politics was an important part of the discussion of values in society. Personally, he felt supported by his faith in life," she said in Berlin on Friday.
At the same time, Schwaetzer paid tribute to Hans-Dietrich Genscher’s multifaceted ecclesiastical commitment. "His participation in the Chamber of Public Responsibility of the Evangelical Church in Germany shows his commitment to shaping a world in which human dignity is at the center of political decisions," said the synod’s president. Genscher had also been involved in the founding of the Luther Center in Wittenberg in 1999.
"The completion of German unity in freedom, on which he worked so intensively in his political life, was a deep joy for the native of Halle," Schwaetzer went on to explain. "The primacy of the political over the military characterizes the milestones of European integration that he helped to shape, which were of utmost importance to him even into the last days of his life."
Merkel: "Globally respected statesman"
Federal President Joachim Gauck emphasized Genscher’s "great contribution to the unification of Germany in freedom and peace". Persistent, omnipresent and "with a fine sense for historical moments," Genscher had advanced the peaceful growing together of Germany and Europe, Gauck wrote in a letter of condolence to Genscher’s widow Barbara.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) praised Genscher as a statesman respected worldwide who had earned trust for Germany. His life’s work had been dedicated to two goals, the European process of detente and German reunification. The Chancellor emphasized that she bowed "before the life’s work of this great liberal patriot and European.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in Brussels that Europe would miss Genscher: "He had dedicated all his tireless political work to reconciliation, unification and the well-being of this continent. Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski spoke of a "great loss for us". He praised Genscher as an "architect of change, to whom we owe the end of the Cold War on our continent."
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), who learned of Genscher’s death on the sidelines of a visit to Tajikistan, said in Dushanbe that Genscher had "literally written history" in his long and eventful life. It was his privilege to realize his life’s goal, German reunification, himself.