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Thousands Join Kohl to Mourn Loss

July 12, 2001|From Associated Press

SPEYER, Germany — Hundreds of mourners fell silent Wednesday as Germany's former Chancellor Helmut Kohl shook holy water onto his wife's coffin to bid her farewell.

About 1,000 people attended a memorial Mass with Kohl, the couple's two sons and foreign dignitaries in the 11th century Speyer Cathedral. Hannelore Kohl, 68, killed herself last week rather than continue to fight a rare disease that confined her to darkness.

An additional 5,000 people waited outside, while hundreds of devotees, some crying, lined up to pay final respects at the casket.

The Rev. Erich Ramstetter, a longtime family friend, eulogized Kohl's wife for her decades of devotion during her husband's 1982-98 tenure as chancellor and throughout a slush fund scandal that has dogged him since.

"Hannelore shared this difficult fate in love and loyalty and stood by you until the last," he said, addressing Kohl.

Kohl's wife killed herself at the family home last Thursday, reportedly with an overdose of medication. Kohl's office blamed the painful allergy that had forced her to avoid daylight for the last 15 months.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who defeated Kohl in 1998 elections, attended the service with his wife, Doris Schroeder-Koepf.

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