A total of 1,800 guests attended Helmut Schmidt's state funeral at the St. Michaelis church in Schmidt's native Hamburg amid tight security measures. The list of high-profile attendees bidding farewell to the late statesman, who had died on November 10 aged 96, was led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Bavarian-born former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
"Who should explain the world to us now," one wreath laid by a member of the public in Hamburg asked, as a farewell to a man Kissinger described as "a kind of conscience for the world."
These are some of the reactions by world leaders about the chain smoking Social Decmorat's death:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
"We developed a deep affection for our former chancellor out of esteem and respect over the decades. We were impressed by his personal modesty and his dedication to duty. Helmut Schmidt was a political institution in the Federal Republic of Germany. I always saw him as an authority – as somebody, whose advice and whose judgment meant a lot to me. We owe a lot to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. His resoluteness helped us withstand the tribulations of international and German terrorism in the 1970s."
"I would like to express my deep respect for the achievements of Helmut Schmidt, his achievements in the course of his long life as a Hamburg politician, as a minister in various governments, as Chancellor and latterly as an independent spirit and publicist. He rendered outstanding service to our country, and we will never forget that."
German President Joachim Gauck:
"Thanks be to this statesman, who served his country, our country, with a vision, with determination and with passion."
Former US President Jimmy Carter:
"I lost a friend. The world lost a perceptive leader."
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger:
"Helmut will remain with us. Perfectionist, moody, ever searching, inspirational, always reliable - that is how he will accompany us for the rest of our lives. He was in a way the conscience of the world."
White House statement:
"He was a firm, sure voice in a time of uncertainty, and was widely admired for his principled approach to advancing détente while also standing firmly against aggression and violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights."
Russian President Vladimir Putin:
"An outstanding personality in post-war Germany dedicated to European and global politics."
French President Francois Hollande:
"We owe the fact that the euro exists to Helmut Schmidt. He always said the market economy must be allowed to live but also that it needed a social dimension."
Former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing:
"He was the best chancellor Germany had since Konrad Adenauer [in office from 1949 to 1963, West Germany's first post-war chancellor - the ed.]. He reestablished the dignity of his great country."
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker:
"The history of this continent shaped him for almost a century and made him a committed European."
Head of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) Sigmar Gabriel, also vice-chancellor:
"He was a truly great patriot, a great European and a great Social Democrat. One of the greatest statesmen of our country."
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD):
"Like few others in post-war history, he understood how to surmount crises with courageous intervention of the state."
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD):
"Helmut Schmidt was not only the German chancellor, he was a mentor for the Germans. Helmut Schmidt was a chancellor of progress and a pioneer of globalization."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg:
"Mr. Schmidt was an insightful leader who understood that security is the result of strong defense and dialogue."
ss/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)