Former German president dies at 94
Former German president Richard von Weizsaecker, who urged his country to confront the Nazi past, promoted reconciliation and denounced far-right violence, has died at the age of 94.
The German president's office announced Mr Weizsaecker's death on Saturday.
Mr Weizsaecker, who was president from 1984 to 1994, raised the profile of the largely ceremonial presidency and established himself as a moral conscience for the nation.
His May 1985 speech marking the 40th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat in the Second World War cemented his reputation. It won widespread praise as an effort to bring fellow Germans to terms with the Holocaust.
Mr Weizsaecker, who served as a regular soldier in Adolf Hitler's army, said: "All of us, whether guilty or not, whether young or old, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it. Anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present.
"May 8 was a day of liberation. It freed us all from the system of National Socialist tyranny."
Later that month, the Netherlands' German-born Prince Claus presented the president with a Dutch translation of the speech, telling him that it enabled him finally to acknowledge his roots in a country where resentment of the Nazi occupation remained widespread.
In October 1985, Mr Weizsaecker made the first visit to Israel by a West German head of state. His Israeli counterpart, Chaim Herzog, said the comments had won Mr Weizsaecker "a special place in the history of your people".
Current German president Joachim Gauck sent a message of condolences to Mr Weizsaecker's widow, saying: "Richard von Weizsaecker stood worldwide for a Germany that had found its way to the centre of the democratic family of peoples. He stood for a federal republic that faces up to its past."