"Much loved former Federal President" dies

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Roman Herzog "Much loved former Federal President" dies

Former Federal President Roman Herzog died on Tuesday at the age of 82. Chancellor Angela Merkel praised him as a "much loved former Federal President" and "a patriot, who has served our country in many ways". Before becoming Federal President, Roman Herzog served as President of the Federal Constitutional Court.

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Federal President Roman Herzog

"Germany needs a jolt" – Roman Herzog' 1997 speech remains unforgotten

Photo: Bundesregierung/Stutterheim

In 1994 Roman Herzog took office as the seventh Federal President, and successor of Richard von Weizsäcker. He remained in office until 1999. Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the way he exercised his office. "Roman Herzog brought his own inimitable style to this highest state office. He was an advocate of open words. He was unpretentious, humorous and perfectly capable of self-irony."

"Germany needs a jolt" speech – clear language and the courage to innovate

Roman Herzog repeatedly used clear words to express his conviction that Germany must continually develop and innovate, Angela Merkel continued. The speech he gave in Berlin in 1997, in which he declared that "Germany needs a jolt" and called for extensive reforms in the country, remains unforgotten.

In terms of European policy and in coming to terms with Germany’s past too, Roman Herzog was skilled at sending important signals – "both by choosing the right words and knowing when to remain silent where there are no words, as we saw in the former death camp in Auschwitz", said Angela Merkel.

Striking personality with expertise and intelligence

"We have lost a great constitutional law expert, politician and statesman today," said Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, commenting on the death of Roman Herzog. "His public and political life as well as his judicial and academic work were inextricably linked from the outset."

Federal President Joachim Gauck praised his predecessor Roman Herzog, whom he described as "a striking personality who shaped and formed the way Germany sees itself and the way we live together within our society." With "expertise, intelligence and a great deal of life experience" Roman Herzog worked for our country and for our liberal constitution, stressed Joachim Gauck in a letter of condolence to Roman Herzog’s widow, Alexandra Freifrau von Berlichingen.

Federal President Joachim Gauck has announced a state funeral to pay tribute to former Federal President Roman Herzog. At Schloss Bellevue in Berlin citizens can sign a book of condolence this week on Wednesday from 10:00 to 18:00, and on Thursday and Friday from 14:00 to 18:00. A book of condolence can also be signed in Bonn’s Villa Hammerschmidt this week from Wednesday to Friday, between 10:00 and 18:00.

President of the Federal Constitutional Court

Before taking office as Federal President, the former professor of constitutional law was appointed judge at the Federal Constitutional Court in 1983, initially as Vice-President. In 1987 he was appointed President of the Federal Constitutional Court.

Roman Herzog was born in 1934 in Landshut in Lower Bavaria. After graduating in law in Munich, and obtaining a doctoral degree and a postdoctoral lecturing qualification (habilitation) there, he was appointed Professor of Constitutional Law at the Free University of Berlin in 1965. In 1969 he moved to the College of Administrative Sciences in Speyer. In 1973 Roman Herzog became a Member of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In 1959 he married Christiane Krauß, a home economics teacher, who died in 2000. The couple had two sons. In 2001 he remarried. His second wife is Alexandra Freifrau von Berlichingen.

State politician in Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg

In 1970 Roman Herzog joined the CDU. In 1973 the state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate Helmut Kohl appointed him Commissioner of Land Rhineland-Palatinate to the Federation. In 1978 Roman Herzog, a Lower Bavarian by birth, moved to Baden-Württemberg, where he first held the post of Minister of Culture and Sport. From 1980 to 1983 he served the Baden-Württemberg government as Minister of the Interior.

Even after the end of his term of office as Federal President, Roman Herzog was politically active. In 2000 he chaired the Convention responsible for drafting the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and presented the recommendations of the Herzog Commission on future political party funding. Since 2003 he has headed the "Convention for Germany", which focuses on improving Germany’s ability to reform.