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Representing and integrating

Representing the state

As head of state, the Federal President is particularly well placed to embody the state, represent it and integrate the various social groups within it. All activities in this field, above all decisions on designating state symbols, fulfilling representational duties, becoming a patron of organizations, delivering addresses, making speeches and ordering official ceremonies and state funerals can be summarized under the heading representing the state. This is a very broad field for which there is often no legal basis.
National anthem

National anthem

The Federal President designates state symbols in so far as the legislator does not assume the role (cf. Art. 22 of the Basic Law: the federal flag shall be black, red and gold). Alongside the federal flag, the national anthem is the most well-known state symbol. Back in 1922 Friedrich Ebert, at that time President of the Reich, by decree declared the "Song of the Germans" written in 1841 by August-Heinrich Hofmann von Fallersleben for Haydn's Austrian Imperial Anthem, to be the German national anthem.
In 1952 the then Federal President Theodor Heuss decided to take it over as the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany, but instructed that only the third stanza be sung on state occasions. After German reunification President von Weizsäcker, in an exchange of letters on the matter with the Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, declared the third stanza to be the national anthem of the German people.



Flags, coats of arms, uniforms

Flags, coats of arms, uniforms and judges' robes are also state symbols. The Federal President has given relevant instructions published in the Federal Law Gazette.




Official ceremonies, state funerals

The Federal President can order a state funeral or an official ceremony to be held on the death of a public figure who has rendered distinguished services to Germany. A state funeral usually includes a military and a religious ceremony. Official ceremonies are political acts that take place in a ceremonial setting and cannot simply be ordered to pay tribute to someone who has passed away. On the occasion of German reunification on 3 October 1990 the then Federal President, Richard von Weizsäcker, ordered an official ceremony to take place at the Berlin Philharmonic.


Other ways of representing and integrating

Apart from such formal occasions, the Federal President represents our country in many different ways and at many different events.
The President embodies the state every time he appears in public, every time he participates in an event, assumes a patronage, makes a speech, conveys congratulations, takes part in a tour or a wide range of other activities. He thus sets an example of recognition, goodwill or particular support.
Nevertheless there is a limit to what events the Federal President can take part in. They have to be of national relevance and special significance.