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Offenburg: Heike Springhart, Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Baden, speaks at the service at the funeral service for Wolfgang Schäuble

Photo: Philipp von Ditfurth / dpa

In the Evangelical City Church in Offenburg, Baden, several hundred people said goodbye to the deceased CDU politician Wolfgang Schäuble. The Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Baden, Heike Springhart, led the funeral service on Friday.

Among the mourners were Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD), the President of the Federal Constitutional Court, Stephan Harbarth, and the CDU Federal Chairman Friedrich Merz. Former CDU leader Armin Laschet, Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), his predecessor Günther Oettinger (CDU), State Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU), CDU state leader Manuel Hagel and former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker also took part.

»What a political life«

At the funeral service, Merz emphasized Schäuble's life's work. "We accompany him in love, in friendship, and certainly all of us together in boundless respect. What a lifetime achievement. What a political life," Merz said.

Schäuble had "left an imprint on generations of members of our parliamentary group, including me personally. Without him, I wouldn't be here today," said the CDU leader. We've become closer and closer friends over the last three decades." His former party colleague has experienced 16 of the country's 24 governments so far, and he himself has been a member of almost one in three. "He has been denied two high offices of state. He would have filled them both out, no doubt," Merz said.

»Very great political personality«

As a shaper of Europe, a passionate democrat and a great son of the country, Prime Minister Kretschmann paid tribute to Schäuble. "With Wolfgang Schäuble, our country has lost a very great political figure," he said at the funeral service.

The longest-serving parliamentarian has played a key role in shaping, shaping and supporting the country. Kretschmann attested to its effectiveness over half a century. He had always greatly admired Schäuble's political skills, his perseverance, his powers of persuasion and incredible judgment. "He thought things through and thought them through from the end." He could also be harsh and polemical, but he always made compromises, which he saw as a cardinal virtue of democracy and not as a weakness.

Schäuble died on Boxing Day at the age of 81 after a long and serious illness. In his career, the Baden native has held important political offices: he was a minister, CDU leader, parliamentary group chairman and president of the German Bundestag. No one was a member of Parliament longer than he was. His work has recently been appreciated across party lines. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Schäuble a "stroke of luck for German history."

Schäuble's coffin was laid out in front of the altar with a black, red and gold flag and a federal eagle, flanked by six federal police officers. In front of it was a huge heart with red roses and the inscription "Your Ingeborg", next to it a wreath of his family. Many wreaths were also placed in front of the church, among other things with yellow and red flowers, the Baden colors. After the service, a military tribute was planned in front of the church. A funeral procession will then move over a distance of a good kilometer to the Waldbach cemetery, as the city of Offenburg announced.

Previously, it had become known that a prominent political companion of the deceased CDU politician would be absent from the funeral service: Angela Merkel. However, she will be present at the state ceremony for Schäuble on January 22 in Berlin, her office said.

After his death, the ex-chancellor paid tribute to Schäuble as a "political teacher". Political Berlin will bid farewell to CDU leader Schäuble in January. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier ordered a state funeral ceremony in the plenary hall of the Reichstag building on that day.