Germany is honoring this Sunday the memory of some 80,000 people carried away in the country by the Covid-19, during a ceremony that will try to make people forget for a moment the national divisions around the restrictions in the face of the pandemic.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Head of State Frank-Walter Steinmeier will attend a mass in the morning in the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, an emblematic place in Berlin dedicated to peace and reconciliation. Then they will take part in a ceremony broadcast by public television around 11 am at the Konzerthaus, a concert hall in central Berlin, where Frank-Walter Steinmeier will deliver a speech. The number of guests was limited due to the health crisis.
“Find strength and hope”
“It is very important to take a break to take leave with dignity for all those who died during the pandemic, including those who did not succumb to the virus but also died in solitude,” said the chief of the State at the announcement of this national commemoration.
At the same time, the heads of the 16 German regions invited the population to symbolically place a candle in the window every evening of this weekend. “We want to become aware of what we have lost”, they declared in a common appeal, “but also together to find strength and hope”.
More and more frequent national tributes
Several countries have already paid national tributes to their victims of the pandemic, in particular the United States, Great Britain, Spain or Italy. In others, such as France, the question of the timetable for such a commemoration, which associations and elected officials are calling for, continues to be debated. At present “all our forces are thrown into the battle against the epidemic (…) but will obviously come this moment of homage and mourning for the Nation”, assured this week the spokesman of the government Gabriel Attal .
The commemoration comes as Germany is hit hard by the third wave of the epidemic, when it was rather spared during the first in spring 2020 compared to its European neighbors. The country had 3.14 million Covid-19 infections on Sunday for nearly 80,000 deaths.
New measures criticized
At the same time, the vaccination campaign has been slow to take off and the authorities are under fire for their management of the pandemic, considered chaotic. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stands on a firm line, this week passed her government a bill allowing her to impose a turn of the screw on the whole country, which could go as far as curfews at local level.
However, this measure is widely criticized in the German regions, which in principle have the upper hand over health issues in the national federal system. It is, including by barons of its own conservative party (CDU). The text has yet to be approved in Parliament. “The virus does not forgive half-measures, they only make it worse”, warned the Chancellor on Friday, defending him.