Roman Herzog Remembered as Highly Admired Statesman

Jan 10, 2017

Roman Herzog Enlarge image Roman Herzog served as Federal President from 1994 to 1999. (© picture-alliance / dpa) Germany is mourning the death of former Federal President Roman Herzog at the age of 82. He served as head of state from 1994 to 1999; prior to that, he served as President of the Federal Constitutional Court. He is being remembered as a respected and trusted statesman and legal mind, known for his wisdom and direct, down-to-earth manner.

Roman Herzog was a freedom-loving, critical mind and thought leader, incumbent Federal President Joachim Gauck said on January 10 in Berlin. He was a man of clear words who contributed much to the understanding between citizens and politics and earned respect and admiration among countless people.

Herzog in Berlin, 1997 Enlarge image Herzog at the massive construction site at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin in 1997 (© picture-alliance / ZB) He is perhaps best known for his landmark speech, called the “Ruck Rede,” in which he called out the economic stagnation and crisis of morale he saw in a Germany as it faced its greatest economic and social challenges since 1950. A jolt must go through Germany (“Durch Deutschland muss ein Ruck gehen”), Herzog stated, calling on all Germans and all sectors of society to be more flexible, innovative and visionary.

Herzog urged Germans to show willingness to reform at a time when the Federal Republic especially needed this admonition, Federal President Gauck said. He always pointed out how necessary changes are to ensure prosperity and security.

White House visit, 1997 Enlarge image Roman Herzog with President Bill Clinton at the White House in July, 1997 (© picture-alliance / dpa) Chancellor Angela Merkel remembered him as a much admired former Federal President and patriot who served Germany in many ways even before he was president.  He carried out Germany’s highest state office in his own inimitable way—open, unpretentious, witty and even self-deprecating. The Chancellor especially noted his influential voice on how Germany remembered and faced its own historic responsibility. It was Herzog who in 1996 declared that January 27, the day in 1945 on which Allied troops liberated the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, would be the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of National Socialism.

Germany has lost “a great constitutional law expert, politician and statesman,” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. “As President of the Federal Constitutional Court, Roman Herzog was always a trustworthy proponent of fundamental rights, the rule of law and humanity. To me, Roman Herzog was an upright, honest and intelligent man who did not shy away from spelling out hard truths but never lost his refined sense of humor.”

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Roman Herzog Remembered

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Official bust

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Herzog pats his bust in the foyer of the Federal President's offices in Berlin in 2000.