Berlin, April 18 2021: Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will attend an ecumenical national memorial service on Sunday morning at Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church held to honor the 80,000 victims of the pandemic. The community will share the pain of grieving families and those who died alone because of Covid curbs.
Besides suffering the pain of losing a loved one, restrictions in place to curb infections mean that relatives are often unable to even hold their family members’ hands as they lay dying. Others have been left grieving on their own, as funerals or memorials are curtailed by pandemic curbs.
The chancellor and the president will later attend a ceremony at the capital’s Konzerthaus, where the president will make a speech. With pandemic curbs still in force restricting the number of people who can attend, the ceremonies will be broadcast live on public television.
Making an announcement about the service, Steinmeier said, “As president I believe it is very important for us to stop to say goodbye in dignity to those who died during the pandemic, including those who did not fall victim to the virus but who also died in loneliness.”
In a dialogue with the president earlier this year, relatives of coronavirus victims voiced their loneliness. Steinmeier stressed that it was important to look beyond the daily victim counts. “Behind every number, there’s a human fate,” he said. Premiers of 16 German states urged citizens to join in the remembrance including by lighting candles by their windows from Friday to Sunday.
The ceremony comes as health authorities warn that many more will succumb to the virus, as Germany struggles to put down a vicious third wave gripping the country. Europe’s biggest economy had come out of the first wave relatively unscathed but has struggled to take decisive action to end the current one fueled mainly by the more contagious British variant. Another 19,185 new infections were recorded in the last 24 hours.
The government is seeking greater powers to impose tougher measures such as night-time curfews, in a bid to circumvent Germany’s powerful regional authorities, some of whom have resisted implementing tougher measures. Despite expected widespread criticism of proposed policies in parliament, Merkel urged swift and decisive action. “The virus doesn’t forgive half-hearted measures, they only make it all worse,” she told the lower house at the start of a debate on the amended law. “The virus doesn’t let you negotiate with it, it only understands one language, the language of resolve.”
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