German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder visited his father's grave in the Romanian village of Ceanu Mare Thursday. It was his first visit, and the villagers were prepared.
Fritz Schröder's grave in the Romanian village of Ceanu Mare
The chancellor had officially stipulated that his trip to the Romanian village and his father's resting place was a private visit, but the villagers and journalists were out in their throngs to honor the occasion. The locals cheered the German leader, who shook hands with them.
When it came to actually attending the grave, in which his father is buried along with eight other German soldiers, Gerhard Schröder went alone. He stood for several minutes and laid down a bunch of white roses. Fritz Schröder was killed on October 4, 1944 at the age of 32, whilst German troops were pulling out of Romania.
Workers clean the road outside the graveyard in Ceanu Mare, Romania
Schröder, who was born in the spring of 1944, never knew his father. The family, including the chancellor's 91-year-old mother (photo), has only known the whereabouts of the grave for the past three and a half years. Only since then has there been a headstone bearing the names of those killed.
When he was first informed about the whereabouts of his father's grave, Schröder announced his wish to visit, and the Ceanu Mare villagers have been waiting in anticipation ever since. A previously planned visit, for which the local mayor, Gavrila Oros, planned a celebratory meal and had a main road covered with asphalt, was cancelled after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Shine worthy of a chancellor
Erika Vosseler, Gerhard Schröder's mother
This time round, the confirmation of Schröder's visit didn't reach Oros until Tuesday afternoon. Then he was busy issuing orders to clean the place up to a polish and glean worthy of what he called "the most important man in Europe."
Street lamps throughout the village were adorned with both the Romanian and German flags, and even hung out of the window of the local church. Fresh flower beds were planted, and important streets were blocked for horses and carts, which are still very much a part of the daily picture of the little village. The 15,000 inhabitants of Ceanu Mare invested a lot of hard work for their fifteen minutes of fame. The visit was a quick stop at the beginning of a two-day trip to Romania and Bulgaria, both of which are gearing up to join the European Union in 2007.