Gauck, Joachim

Gauck, Joachim, 1940–, German political and human-rights activist, president of Germany (2012–17), b. Rostock. An anticommunist from his youth, Gauck was ordained a Lutheran minister and was pastor of a church in Mecklenberg, East Germany. He became part of the peaceful protest movement that helped bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall and ultimately the reunification of Germany. A longtime human-rights activist, Gauck was in charge of exposing the activities of East Germany's infamous secret police (the Stasi); he and his staff combed through former Stasi files to root out informers and collaborators. Unaffiliated with any political party, he was elected to the largely ceremonial office of German president in Mar., 2012. He chose not to stand for reelection in 2017.

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