Roman Herzog dead: Former German president led way in remembering Holocaust

Germany's former President Roman Herzog died on Tuesday at the age of 82.

Herzog, who served as German chief justice before being elected to a five-year term as head of state in 1994, always stressed the importance of remembering the Holocaust. 

"Roman Herzog fulfilled the duties of the highest government post in his own inimitable way. He was frank, unpretentious, humorous and self-ironic," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her eulogy. "In European politics and confronting our past, Roman Herzog knew how to send important signals, through choosing the right words, or through silence, in places where there were no words, such as the former death camp of Auschwitz."

In 1995, during a visit to the former Nazi death camp in Bergen-Belsen, Herzog warned against the rise of new forms of exclusion and totalitarianism. "So we must remain vigilant. And for that we have to remember. Only those who remember can banish dangers for the future," he said.

After his term as president, a largely ceremonial post in Germany, Herzog also chaired the first European convention that drafted the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights. "Today we have lost a great constitutional scholar, politician and statesman," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a statement.

The World Jewish Congress honored Herzog as a "great fighter for the rule of law and for a free and tolerant society". Herzog had "distinguished himself with his great openness and friendship toward the Jewish community and for promoting its role in German civil society," said Maram Stern, the WJC's deputy CEO, in a statement.

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