Berlin: Former German President Roman Herzog, who pioneered remembrance of the Nazi Holocaust, has died at the age of 82, officials confirmed on Tuesday.
Twenty years ago in 1996, Herzog declared January 27 as the first official day of remembrance for victims of the Nazi regime, marking the 1945 liberation from Auschwitz. He also made a powerful statement in 1997, recognising the murder and persecution of Roma and Sinti peoples under Adolf Hitler.
The politician from the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) — Angela Merkel’s party — was an outspoken critic of politicians who were resistant to passing reforms.
Incumbent President Joachim Gauck remembered his predecessor as a “distinctive character” with “progressive courage”.
“He was a notable character who shaped Germany’s self-understanding and the co-existence in our society,” said Gauck in a statement addressed to Herzog’s widow.
“‘The ability to innovate determines our destiny’ – that was the strong conviction of Roman Herzog. That is why your husband has looked forward to the necessity of reform, and at the same time stood for the preservation of the tried and tested,” Efe news reported citing Gauck as saying.
Throughout his career, Herzog received many notable awards, including the Charlemagne Prize in 1997.