Germany's most senior politicians attended an official memorial service held for former foreign minister Guido Westerwelle in Berlin. The event followed a private funeral ceremony in Cologne two days ago.
Current foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised his predecessor's work at the somber event held at Germany's Foreign Office, and said that Westerwelle's devotion to other people and their causes had made him unique.
"Guido Westerwelle's public persona was usually perceived as snarky, sometimes even distant, and often as cold," Steinmeier said during the ceremony.
"But if you got to look behind that facade you would see someone with exceptional sensitivity for the people, their tempers, their circumstances," he added.
"He was vulnerable too, but managed to hide that from most people."
Dozens of political heavyweight at memorial
Steinmeier added that in his role as foreign minister until 2013, Westerwelle had shown great support for Europe, persistently seeking peaceful solutions to every crisis. Head of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and Christian Lindner, current leader of Westerwelle's Free Democratic Party (FDP), also stressed Westerwelle's commitment to Europe.
Political heavyweights including current foreign minister Steinmeier (first from the left) and former President Horst Köhler (third from the left) came to the memorial
Former German President Horst Köhler, finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Green Party leader Cem Özdemir were also among those in attendance. A number of ambassadors and other diplomats also took part, as did Westerwelle's husband, Michael Mronz and his brother Kai Westerwelle. More than 700 people in total came to Westerwelle's official memorial.
Guido Westerwelle died on March 18, 2016, aged 54 after a prolonged battle with leukemia. His private funeral ceremony held in his hometown Cologne on March 2 was attended by his friends and relatives as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck.
ss/jil (AFP, dpa)