Today, the flags in Germany are on half mast as former president Johannes Rau is taken to his last resting place in Berlin. Germany mourns a popular president who had constant approval ratings of over 80% during his entire presidency.
The Deutsche Welle Radio had a good obituary:
The devout Christian was known affectionately as Brother Johannes, will largely be remembered for trying to make Germany, deeply traumatized by its Nazi past, a more tolerant nation that would be respected on the world stage. "I want to be the president of all Germans and an interlocutor for all those who live and work here without a German passport," he said in his inaugural speech in 1999. [...] Rau was one of the Social Democratic Party's leading lights and dedicated nearly 50 years to serving the public as a political leader. For more than two decades he served as the premier of Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, before being named the country's eighth president. During his five years in office, Rau won the respect of a large majority of his countrymen. He made a name for himself as the moral and ethical voice of the country in times of heated political discussion. [...] As Germany's president, he urged the nation to open up to foreigners. During the dispute over the country's first immigration law, Rau positioned himself above the political fray and worked to promote better understanding between Germans and foreigners. In February 2000, he delivered a historic apology to the Israeli parliament for the Nazis' crimes in a watershed moment in bilateral relations. Rau was a frequent critic of human rights violations around the world, famously taking Chinese leaders to task on a state visit in 2003. "The goal of my political career is to make human beings' lives in the course of their years a bit more humane," he once said.I cried when I heard of his death. I have nothing more to add.