Roman Herzog, former German president, dies aged 82

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Roman Herzog, seventh president of Germany, who was in the office from 1994 to 1999, died yesterday in Bad Mergentheim, current president Joachim Gauck confirmed. He was 82.

Herzog on a 1975 Rhineland-Palatinate state election poster.
Image: Christian Democrats.

Born on April 5, 1934 in Landshut, Bavaria, Herzog studied law at Munich University. His father worked in a snuff factory. Herzog joined the Christian Democrats (CDU) in 1970.

Herzog was appointed as Bonn's regional chief representative in 1973 by Rhineland-Palatinate's governor. He served as a judge in the Federal Constitutional Court from 1983 to 1987. He was promoted as the Chief Justice of the federal court in 1987, serving until 1994.

Four years after Germany's re-unification, Herzog was elected as the president of the country in 1994 though he was the second choice candidate of CDU. After the election, Herzog said, "I will try my best to lead this administration in such a way that you will regret not having given me your vote".

Herzog acknowledged Germany's reformation was slow. Germany faced economic crises in the 1990s. The president said, "Pessimism has become a normal mindset in our country. Those who want to delay or prevent major reforms need to be aware that our nation will pay a high price for this."

In 1994, Herzog visited Poland on the 50th anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. On August 1, 1994, he sought forgiveness from the Polish people in Warsaw, saying, "I ask for your forgiveness for all that was done to you by Germany". Herzog declared January 27 to be observed as the annual day of remembrance of the victims of the Nazi holocaust. On January 27, 1945, the death camp at Auschwitz was liberated.

Herzog is credited with the improvement of Germany after the economic crises and the reformation. In one mid-90s speech he said "Germany needs a jolt to push through it" ((de))German language: ‍Durch Deutschland muss ein Ruck gehen as Germany's economy was at a standstill.

Herzog was succeeded by Johannes Rau in 1999. Upon retirement, Herzog said, "I'm merely retiring from office and not retiring from life". In 2015, he attended the funeral of Richard von Weizsäcker, who served as the president of Germany before Herzog succeeded him. Herzog is survived by his second wife.

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