German politician Peter Hintze, who was secretary general of the CDU from 1992 to 1998, has died aged 66. Hintze had been a member of the German parliament since 1990 and was considered a close ally of Chancellor Merkel.
Hintze, who had been ill from cancer for some time, died early Sunday, a spokesperson for the Christian Democrats (CDU) said in Berlin.
The 66-year-old politician was one of six vice presidents of German's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, and was among his party's most experienced politicians.
Among other positions, he was national CDU secretary general from 1992 to 1998 and the government coordinator of aerospace policy from 2007 to 2013. From 2006, he led the Bundestag group of CDU parliamentarians from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which forms the largest delegation within the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary group.
He was also among members of Germany's ruling coalition who wanted to give terminally ill people the opportunity to legally end their lives with medical assistance.
Born in the western Rhineland town of Honnef (now Bad Honnef) on April 25, 1950, he studied theology, eventually becoming a Protestant minister. His religious background was reflected in one of his first political posts: that of federal chairman of the Evangelical Working Group of the CDU/CSU from 1990 to 1992.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the politicians to praise Hintze's contribution to political life in Germany.
"In Peter Hintze, the CDU has lost one of its outstanding personalities," she said in Berlin, saying he had left his mark both on CDU and national politics as the holder of various positions over the past decades.
Calling him "one of the party's outstanding intellects," she said he had defended clear viewpoints "with great passion and expertise," while also being ready to compromise.
'A wonderful colleague'
Hintze enjoyeded "the highest recognition, trust and respect beyond all party and state borders," Merkel said, and expressed condolences to his family.
Other CDU politicians joined Merkel in voicing their dismay at Hintze's death.
"I am terribly sad. Peter Hintze was one of the most brilliant and warmest people I have ever met in politics," said former Family Minister Kristina Schröder on Twitter, while CSU Bundestag member Voker Ullrich tweeted that Hintze "was intelligent, inspiring, warm and a wonderful colleague."
tj/sms (dpa, KNA, AFP)