On learning of the death of Russian writer and Nobel Laureate Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (4 August) sent the following letter of condolence to his widow, Natalia Dmitrievna Solzhenitsyna:
"I was deeply saddened to hear of your husband's death. I would like to offer my sympathy and heartfelt condolences to you and your family.
The death of Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn is a tremendous loss to Russian literature. For many decades he was one of Russia's most influential authors and was admired and respected far beyond the country's borders. In "The Gulag Archipelago" he exposed the brutality and inhumanity of the Stalinist regime, thereby erecting a literary monument to the victims of the system.
All his life, Alexander Solzhenitsyn fought for his views and always stood for high moral principles. Heinrich Böll, with whom he initially stayed after being deported in 1974, called him a "symbol of freedom". Following his return to Russia after 20 years in exile, he remained a resolute critic and admonishing commentator of political developments in his homeland. With the passing away of your husband, we lose a passionate champion of human rights and freedom. We will miss his powerful voice.
I wish you and your family comfort and courage in this difficult time."