With an ecumenical event, the Christian churches in Hamburg commemorated the dead of the shooting among Jehovah's Witnesses on Sunday. "We want to set an example for peace, which we believe will triumph and that it will be stronger in the end," said Hamburg's Catholic Archbishop Stefan Hesse late in the afternoon at the opening of the ecumenical commemoration. "The bleaker the prospects for peace may be, the more urgent and resolute must be our hopes and our confidence, our will for peace and also our actions."
The main church of St. Petri was good, but not fully occupied. The church usually has room for around 1,000 people, and the church has been prepared for around 400. Among the guests were numerous emergency chaplains, police officers and politicians from the Hanseatic city, including Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher, Interior Senator Andy Grote (both SPD) and Hamburg's Deputy Mayor Katharina Fegebank (Greens).
With the cross-faith commemoration event, the Hamburg churches wanted to give the mourning space and donate consolation and care. The commemoration should not and cannot replace a funeral service for Jehovah's Witnesses, the churches said.
The organizers of the commemoration were the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany, the Archdiocese of Hamburg and the Working Group of Christian Churches. The Jehovah's Witnesses supported the commemoration and were happy about the solidarity, as they said in advance. But later they want to plan a funeral service according to their Christian beliefs. According to reports, none of them were present in the main church of St. Petri on Sunday.
In the act on Thursday evening more than a week ago, a 35-year-old German in the north of Hamburg killed seven people - including an unborn child - with shots from a semi-automatic pistol and then killed himself. Nine people were injured. As a spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses said on Saturday, none of the injured are in mortal danger.
A book of condolences for the shooting has been available in Hamburg City Hall since the weekend. On the first day, several people took the opportunity to express their condolences to the victims' relatives by making entries. According to the city administration, this is possible for a week between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The book will be handed over to those affected in due course.