Just days after being sworn in as the minister of North Rhine Westfalia, Hannelore Kraft had the mission impossible of finding the words to console the families of the young people who died in Duisburg last Sunday, while also expressing the grief of a city in mourning and a nation in shock.
Miraculously, she succeeded.
I don't have a transcript of the speech, but I can summarize if for non-German speakers: Hannelore Kraft speaks of the tragedy of losing so many young people who had their entire futures before them, and of the tragedy that they lost their lives at what was supposed to be a joyful celebration of music. She talks about the how the survivors and witnesses will be traumatized for the rest of their lives by what they witnessed. She speaks about the terrible anxiety and fear of the parents and friends of the Love Parade attendees who waited for what seemed like an eternity for word of their fate (her own son was at the Love Parade, so she felt that herself). She honors the heroism and grief of the first responders and rescue workers who saved so many lives but who could not save the 21.
In the end, she seeks to find meaning in the tragedy, and I can provide a translation:
"In the last few days I was able to speak with the families of several victims. I found this incredibly moving. The father of one of the young women who died told me that his daughters death would have meaning if it leads us to rethink our values, ro remind us to always put the well-being and safety of people first and foremost. That must always guide our actions.
We can never fathom, much less ease, your sorrow. But still I ask that you open your hearts to those who seek to comfort you and help you through the loss of an irreplaceable loved one. You are not alone."