’We stand together. We will stay outward-looking’

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"Rarely has it been clearer what a university is. We stand together. We will stay outward-looking. We are supported and embedded in an international academic community that in past days has come to our side in solidarity a hundred times over. We are not alone, not in this city, not in the country, not in the world." This is what Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University, said during the memorial ceremony in the University Church. With this event on 31 January 2022, including a minute’s silence, Ruperto Carola recalled the events exactly a week before that had left the academic community and all those related to it so deeply shocked and shaken.

Grief and perplexity, cohesion and community - with these words the speakers addressed the gathering in Peter’s Church, among them Thomas Strobl, Interior Minister of the State of Baden-Württemberg. As his deputy, he also brought a "quiet greeting" from the State Premier. Peter Abelmann, Chair of the Constituted Student Body, took the floor on behalf of his fellow students. Lord Mayor Eckart Würzner spoke in the name of the city of Heidelberg.

Jochen Cornelius-Bundschuh, Bishop of the Protestant Church in Baden, also gave a message and joined Stephan Burger, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Freiburg, and representatives of the Jewish and Islamic communities in lighting candles in memory of the victims. Students, teachers, staff and first-aid workers laid flowers, particularly for the 23-year-old student who was killed. Special condolences were expressed for her family and friends.

The soul of the university was "wounded", said University Preacher and theologian Helmut Schwier in his sermon. He went on to look with confidence to "wounded souls becoming whole", "the burden again becoming light", and to "studying being full of the joy of discovery" - "and perhaps not only a path toward truth and knowledge but also to wisdom". The speakers in Peter’s Church emphasised that their thoughts and heartfelt sympathy were with all those for whom life had changed forever since 24 January and in which nothing would ever be as it was before. It should nevertheless be remembered that another family was likewise mourning a loss, they underlined. It was also fitting to share in its grief.

The memorial service was accompanied musically by members of the Collegium Musicum, the university orchestra and choir, conducted by Michael Sekulla, as well as Prof. Carsten Klomp at the organ.

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