Wolfgang Schäuble sat in the Bundestag longer than anyone else. After his death, politicians from home and abroad honored the recently deceased. French President Emmanuel Macron even spoke German.
In a moving state ceremony, French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of politics and society in Germany said goodbye to CDU politician Wolfgang Schäuble, who died at the age of 81. Macron praised Schäuble as a friend of France and a great European. “Germany has lost a statesman. Europe has lost a pillar. France has lost a friend,” the president said in German in his funeral speech in the Reichstag building in Berlin. Schäuble’s desire to have a Frenchman speak in the Bundestag says a lot about his trust in France and Germany, Macron added.
Macron also recalled the death of Jacques Delors on December 27th. “One after the other, Europe has lost two of its great thought leaders.” Both were founding fathers of European unification and the reconciliation of peoples. “Two statesmen who gave everything for their countries and Europe.” There were two lives as links and mediators. “They left us one night apart and our hearts as Europeans now bear a double sadness.”
With the signing of the Élysée Treaty on January 22, 1963, Germany and France were obliged to reconcile, said Macron. “This task was in the hands of several generations. These include the founding fathers of Europe (…). Wolfgang Schäuble was one of this generation of master builders.”
51 years member of the Bundestag
The former head of the Chancellery, Federal Interior and Finance Minister, CDU leader and Bundestag President Schäuble died on Boxing Day at the age of 81 after a long illness in his hometown of Offenburg. He was also buried there. Schäuble was a member of the Bundestag for 51 years – longer than anyone else in the history of German parliamentarism.
Funeral service for Wolfgang Schäuble: “A great son of our country”
In addition to the Schäuble family, around 1,500 guests from politics and society from home and abroad gathered in the plenary hall of the Bundestag to say goodbye to Schäuble. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier initially escorted Schäuble’s widow Ingeborg to her seat. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) sat right next to Macron.
Former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), ex-Federal Presidents Horst Köhler, Christian Wulff and Joachim Gauck as well as former Bundestag Presidents Rita Süssmuth and Norbert Lammert (both CDU) also took a seat in the visitors’ gallery. Merkel wrote in the condolence book: “In memory of an exciting, challenging and always compromise-oriented collaboration! Thank you!” The ceremony for the music lover Schäuble was accompanied by Mozart music and ended with the national anthem.
“Germany loses great democrat”
Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD) said: “Germany is losing a great democrat and statesman. Europe is losing a thought leader. And France is losing a special friend.” For Schäuble, European unification was a peace project, “the lesson from German history.” “He would have liked the fact that the state act in Schäuble’s honor took place on the anniversary of the Élysée Treaty for the reconciliation of the two former war enemies Germany and France.”
Schäuble has dealt with political setbacks and personal blows of fate, said Bas – Schäuble has been in a wheelchair since the assassination attempt on him by a mentally disturbed man in October 1990. “He carried on. For democracy. For this country. And he achieved historic things,” she said, recalling Schäuble’s achievements as an architect of German unity. Schäuble knew: “Our democracy cannot be taken for granted. It is worth defending. And it must be defended.” Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) wrote on
Friedrich Merz: “Thank you, Wolfgang Schäuble”
Union parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz said: “We bow to a true statesman of our country, to a European statesman, to a controversial democrat, to a formative personality in our country’s recent history. Thank you, Wolfgang Schäuble.” He “knew the historical significance and our special responsibility together with France.”
Schäuble never tired of pointing out that Germany has “responsibility in and for Europe” but also needs trust in Europe, said Merz, who called Schäuble a personal friend. “Germany must continually and consistently earn this trust, combined with the willingness to take on leadership responsibility.” The fact that Macron gave the eulogy was “an expression of such trust and honors us all.”
Merz quoted from Schäuble’s inaugural speech as President of Parliament on October 24, 2017. At the time, he called for confidence in the representative principle to be strengthened again and added: “None of this is possible without parliamentarism.” Merz added: “This sentence is his actual political legacy.”
Bishop Fehrs: Schäuble gave many people strength
At a memorial service in Berlin Cathedral, the Protestant bishop and current EKD council chairwoman Kirsten Fehrs praised Schäuble’s role model function. With his “hopeful courage” he gave strength to an incredible number of people. Fehrs called Schäuble an “impressive anti-populist” who was needed especially in these times. She added: “What would our country look like now if such a far-sighted politician like him hadn’t negotiated the German unification treaty?”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.