A "note of gratitude" from a local German newspaper by the parents of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz has caused a stir. Its national re-publication coincided with a major memorial service in the town of Haltern.
Investigators extensively searched the home of Andreas Lubitz' parents after the deliberate crash of flight 4U9525
A copy of the Lubitz family's divisive local newspaper tribute, designed to look like an obituary, was also published as a news story in the national German daily newspaper Bild. In it, the parents expressed thanks to their friends, family, and the local community for the support they had received after the death of their son.
"We would like to thank everyone, who supported and helped us in a year full of horror and fear, incredulity, restlessness, speechlessness, despair and grieving we had to come to terms with, to cope with this great loss and with everything that happened," Lubitz's parents and brother wrote.
The ad did not feature the pilot's last name or last initial, but rather only said "Andreas".
The message, however, has angered the crash victims' parents. One victim's father showed sympathy to the Lubitz family, but bemoaned the fact that the note did not mention the people killed in the incident at all.
"I'm speechless about this ignorance and this lack of respect for the dead," Jürgen Fischenich told Bild.
Others were equally, if not more upset.
"We are only able to visit our murdered children at their graves. Yet, in the note of gratitude by the Lubitz family, their son is described as a valuable person. Our anger can't be put into words at this time," the parents of one of the victims, Sebastian S., told Bild via their lawyer Elmar Giemulla.
"We understand, however, that Andreas Lubitz' parents are also still grieving."
Lubitz is thought to have deliberately crashed Germanwings flight 4U 9525 in the French Alps on March 24, 2015, killing all 150 people on board.
Some users on Twitter, however, rather showed their sympathy for the pilot and his family. Ingo von Wirth addressed Bild, saying that the parents of Andreas Lubitz had every right to mourn the loss of their son without the newspaper telling them how to go about it.
Another user simply asked, "What is so irritating about the parents' note of gratitude? Andreas L. was ill, not evil."
A community torn apart
The reprinting of the ad in Bild coincided with the same day that students in the town of Haltern were commemorating their classmates, who had been killed on flight 4U9525 en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf just over than a year ago. The school group had been on an exchange visit to Spain and was on its way home when co-pilot Lubitz crashed the plane.
DW reporter Manasi Gopalakrishnan spoke to the mayor of Haltern, who said that the small town had somehow found a way to "come together in dignity" to remember those who died that day.
"I believe that in the midst of the tragedy we found the right way to deal with everything. Our community moved much closer together in their grief, and supported each other as best they could," he told DW.
"But the town is still experiencing a great deal of shock and dismay."