Coronavirus: Germany looks back on a year of losses | Germany | In-depth news and reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW

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Steinmeier speaks with relatives of coronavirus victims in Germany via Zoom conference


In Germany, around 80,000 people have died from and with Covid-19. It has been more than a year since Germany, on March 9, 2020, confirmed its first two coronavirus deaths: an 89-year-old woman in the city of Essen and a 78-year-old man in Heinsberg, a city that was going badly affected at the start of the pandemic.

From those very early days, DW has reported on those who died, the parents they left behind, and the people who took care of them.

This Sunday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier led the official memorial service in Berlin for those who lost their lives to the coronavirus.

Steinmeier has frequently drawn attention to the issue of mourning and death, and earlier this year he suggested the idea of ​​placing a candle in the window to commemorate those who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.

No chance to say goodbye

One of the most devastating experiences for those affected has been not being able to visit loved ones in hospital and, in the worst case, having to observe from a distance how they die on their own.

Hospitals and nursing homes have been forced to temporarily restrict visits, meaning some coronavirus patients, and even people with other illnesses, have died without loved ones constantly by their side.

DW also met people who accompany the dying or their loved ones.

The Kleibömer family, for example, recounted how difficult their experience was.

The job of funeral director Birgit Scheffler involves something that was nearly impossible during the pandemic: comforting the bereaved while keeping their distance.

Scheffler tried to support his clients in their time of grief, as well as to help them heal.

The pandemic has also hit nursing homes and nursing homes hard.

There have been serious coronavirus outbreaks and as a result many deaths, which is why Germany has mainly tried to protect the elderly and the most vulnerable.

In April, nursing homes had another quiet Easter.

And while Germany managed to keep the death toll relatively low during the first months of the pandemic, the situation became much more serious late last year.

Saxony, in the east of the country, is among the regions particularly affected.

Undertakers, they were well aware of this sad reality. They could barely follow, and coffins piled up in funeral homes. DW visited a crematorium in Saxony.

The situation in hospitals and intensive care units has been particularly difficult for many months. DW reporter Andrea Grunau observed this when she followed nurse Andrea Krautkrämer, who works in an intensive care unit in the western city of Koblenz.

“You are doing everything in your power – and it is not enough,” she said. “You suffer with every patient. And you hope. “

She is not the only one to hope: since the beginning of the year, the number of deaths in Germany has fallen. This could be the first success of the deployment of vaccination in the country.

However, the number has increased slightly since Easter.

And experts are also warning of the growing number of infections: Intensive care beds are becoming scarce and Germany is likely to see many more people die from coronavirus.

While you are here: Every Tuesday DW editors take a tour of what is going on in German politics and society, with the aim of understanding this year’s elections and beyond. You can sign up for the weekly Berlin Briefing email newsletter here, to stay abreast of developments as Germany enters the post-Merkel era.

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