Germany bade farewell to Willy Brandt with a grand state funeral Saturday that drew thousands of people who mourned a statesman who helped reconcile postwar Europe.
The former mayor of West Berlin and chancellor of West Germany died Oct. 8 at age 78, deeply affecting many Germans who felt Brandt had rescued their country's reputation after the dark epoch of Nazism.More than 14,000 people filed past his coffin as it lay in state Friday, and thousands more came Saturday to see the state funeral at the Reichstag, the historic site of Germany's parliament near where the Berlin Wall divided the city for 28 years.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl said Brandt, the 1971 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, contributed much to Germany's position of respect in the world and had seen his mission as building bridges of peace to the communist world and to poorer nations.
``Because of his own experiences with two totalitarian dictatorships on German soil, Willy Brandt knew that Germany is a difficult fatherland,' Kohl said. ``He wanted Germans to identify with the good traditions of their history, without blotting out the bad chapters from their memory.'