Party leader at time of German reunification dies at age of 94

The leader of the German Social Democrats at the time of reunification, Hans-Jochen Vogel, who was also a former minister of justice and an SPD candidate for chancellor, died on Sunday at the age of 94 in Munich.

Vogel was born on February 3, 1926, in the northern German city of Goettingen.

As mayor of Munich in the 1960s, Vogel secured the 1972 Olympic Games for the city; he was also briefly mayor of West Berlin in 1981. He served as federal minister of regional planning, construction and urban development after moving out of city hall in Munich in 1972, before becoming federal justice minister from 1974 to 1981.

He led the SPD faction in the German lower house, or Bundestag, from 1983 to 1991, and took over as party leader in 1987 until 1991, holding the post during the reunification of Germany.

The SPD described Vogel as a “great social democrat” in a statement issued by the party executive on Sunday.

“He was the first chairman of the reunited SPD. He was a great social democrat, a role model, a friend. Hans-Jochen Vogel fought throughout his life for social democratic values, a just world and for a united Europe. He will be missed.” the statement said.

The premier of Vogel’s home state of Bavaria, Markus Soeder of the conservative CSU party, wrote that Germany had lost an “outstanding personality … He enjoyed the highest reputation across party lines thanks to his credible politics and authentic manner.”

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