Joachim Gauck

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Joachim Gauck, 2019
Joachim Gauck's signature.svg
Joachim Gauck, 2014

Joachim Gauck (* 24. January 1940 in Rostock ) is a German non-party politicians and Protestant theologian . From March 18, 2012 to March 18, 2017, he was the eleventh and first non-party President of the Federal Republic of Germany .

During the GDR era, Gauck was an Evangelical Lutheran pastor and church functionary. During the last decade of the GDR, Gauck led the preparation and implementation of the two Protestant church days in 1983 and 1988 in Rostock. In the course of the peaceful revolution he became a leading member of the New Forum in Rostock. The first freely elected People's Chamber of the GDR, of which he was a member, elected him on June 21, 1990 as chairman of the special committee to monitor the dissolution of the former MfS / AfNS . Gauck was briefly with the German reunification in October 1990Member of the German Bundestag for Bündnis 90 .

From October 1990 to October 2000, Gauck was the first federal commissioner for the Stasi files at the head of the "Gauck authority", which is often named after him and which administers and makes accessible the written legacy of the Ministry for State Security (MfS). After Marianne Birthler took over from him, Gauck got involved in socio-political issues with lectures and media activities. He is one of the initiators of the Prague Declaration and the Declaration on the Crimes of Communism . Gauck was also chairman of the Association Against Forgetting - For Democracy . He has been honored and recognized several times for services and publications .

18 March 2012 elected the 15th Federal Assembly of the non-party Gauck a large majority for the President. Two years earlier he was defeated by his predecessor Christian Wulff in the third ballot in the 14th Federal Assembly . For reasons of age, Gauck decided not to run for president again in the 2017 election. His term of office ended after five years on March 18, 2017.


Origin and childhood (1940–1945)

Gauck was born in Rostock in 1940. The parents, Wilhelm Joachim Gauck and Olga Warremann, married in 1938. The father, born in Dresden , was captain of the merchant navy and first lieutenant at sea in the reserve . The mother, a trained office worker, worked as an office manager in a law firm. Both were members of the NSDAP , the mother from 1932, the father from 1934. They had three other children: Marianne, Sabine and Eckart († 23 August 2013). Joachim Gauck spent the first five years of his life mostly on the Baltic Sea in Wustrow on the Fischland - together with his mother and siblings in the house of his paternal grandmother. His father passed his captain's exam with distinction in 1940. During the Second World War he was a. responsible for the detection of mines and spent the war time mainly in barracks z. B. in Stralsund . The family lived in Gotenhafen , where the father was stationed, for six months . Most recently, Wilhelm Joachim Gauck taught the junior officers in navigation and law at the Mürwik Naval School , where he was taken prisoner by the British at the end of the war .

Gauck , who was five years old at the end of the war, was hardly affected by the bombing in Wustrow. After Mecklenburg belonged to the Soviet occupation zone , the house of Gauck's grandmother, located directly on the Baltic Sea, was requisitioned by the Red Army for military purposes and later had to be leased for a very low rent to a large company that housed employees on vacation there.

At the end of 1945, the mother and the then three children moved to live with their own parents in Rostock.

School days (1946–1958)

From 1946 Gauck attended elementary school in Rostock, then high school until he graduated from high school in 1958.

In the summer of 1946, shortly before Gauck started school, his father returned from captivity and then worked as an occupational health and safety inspector for shipping at the Rostock Neptun shipyard . While visiting relatives in Wustrow on June 27, 1951, he was visited by two men and picked up in a car on the pretext that there had been a serious accident at the shipyard in which he had to help. For the next few years he disappeared without a trace from the family . All inquiries with the People's Police , the Criminal Police and the State Security remained inconclusive. Submissions to government agencies and requests to Wilhelm Pieck were unsuccessful.

It was not until the beginning of the thaw after Stalin's death that the family learned in September 1953 that the father was in a Siberian labor camp . It was possible to contact him by letter.

Gauck and his two siblings were raised to reject the political system of the GDR, which was blamed for the disappearance of their father:

“Our father's fate became an educational club. The duty of absolute loyalty to the family precluded even the smallest form of fraternization with the system. That we do not, we gave the mother clearly. I had internalized this commandment so much that I was no longer even tempted by the leisure activities offered by the FDJ . For this I lived in the morally comfortable consciousness: We are the decent ones. I intuitively fended off the regime's campaigning for the acceptance of its moral and political goals, because it had brought suffering and injustice to us. "

Gauck described the popular uprising of June 17, 1953 in his autobiographical notes as an "electrifying experience". 5,000 workers also went on strike at the nearby Neptun shipyard and demanded that the government resign. Despite the suppression of the uprising, Gauck remembered a temporary relaxation of the strictly " class struggle " course in everyday school life.

The father came back from the Soviet camp system in October 1955 (after more than four years in a labor camp) extremely weak. It took a whole year before he was able to work as a pilot again. After his disappearance, a secret Soviet military tribunal in Schwerin sentenced him to two 25 years imprisonment: “The first 25 years for espionage - for a letter he had received from Fritz Löbau, his former superior at the Rosslauer Werft 1947 had tested speedboats for the Soviets. Loebau had gone to the West and invited my father to visit West Berlin; fifty marks in travel money were enclosed with the letter. Although my father had not responded, the invitation or this acquaintance became his undoing; Löbau is said to have worked with the French secret service. ”A nautical specialist magazine of western origin found at Gauck's father is said to have served as evidence for the conviction for another 25 years for“ anti-Soviet agitation ”, but it was legally obtained by mail. The father was sent to a Siberian labor camp. Classified as "invalidated" after just one year, he only had to do relatively light work.

The return of the father was a consequence of the Moscow negotiations by Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer ; it did nothing to change the hostile attitude of the whole family towards the SED government. Gauck later summed up that he “ grew up with a well-founded anti-communism ”.

Studies and pastor's office (1958–1989)

Gauck used the possibility of leaving the GDR, which was still available up to the erection of the Berlin Wall , to travel to the “West”, saw Paris as a fifteen-year-old, went on a bicycle tour in Schleswig-Holstein and frequently visited West Berlin . According to his own statements, however, he did not seriously think of " making it over ".

"I loved my homeland seriously, my West like a lover."

One year after graduating from high school, Joachim Gauck and his school friend Gerhild "Hansi" Radtke married. The church wedding was performed on August 22, 1959 by his uncle, the Güstrow cathedral preacher Gerhard Schmitt . Gauck's career opportunities were limited in the GDR . His dream job as a journalist was eliminated from the outset under GDR conditions. Gauck, encouraged by his uncle, decided against an apprenticeship and in favor of studying theology , which he completed from 1958 to 1965 in Rostock. According to his own admission, it was initially not about qualifying for a pastor's position, but primarily about increasing philosophical knowledge and arguments against the Marxism-Leninism prescribed by the authorities . The theological faculties in the GDR offered freedom for this.

“My path to theology was not unusual in the GDR. Before and after me, many chose this profession for similar reasons - which explains the strong commitment of many pastors to the political development in 1989. […] In contrast to parental or state authority, belief offered the possibility of entrusting oneself to a truth that could not be commanded by anyone and taken from anyone. He conveyed a mysterious power that enabled us to maintain our minority status, to remain courageous where others had already adapted, and to consider decency, loyalty and faith to be more important than prosperity, career or public success. "

After the GDR in 1962, conscription was introduced escaped Gauck, whose vintage was already mostly not feed, as registered student of the convocation . After his marriage and the births of his sons in 1960 and 1962, but also because of difficulties in his studies, he got into an orientation crisis. A study extension was only granted to him in 1964 after a neurologist's assessment. Even after completing his studies, Gauck had not yet decided to become a pastor. It was only during his vicariate in Laage that Gauck stated that he had confidence in contact with the parishioners that he would be up to the pastor's office as a person and in faith.

“In the encounter with the parishioners, however, I lost the fear of being swallowed up by doubt. I was able to grow spiritually and radiate something myself. I learned that belief is actually a belief in the least, a belief even against the face of it; and that it is permissible to enter the circle of believers with doubt, to also live and preach with doubt. Without this experience I would probably not have endured life as a pastor, because I often reached the limits of my theological possibilities. "

After his ordination , he worked from 1967 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg as a pastor in rural and comparatively religious Lüssow and from 1971 in Rostock-Evershagen , where Gauck claims to have been successful in missionary work and as a district and city youth pastor.

Since 1974 employees of the Ministry for State Security (MfS) observed the activities of Gauck. According to this, he had described the government of the GDR as a “clique” to an unofficial employee (IM) in May 1974, for example , “which, together with the MfS and the NVA, subjugated the people”. About a peace service in 1982 it says: “G. drew comparisons to fascism in Germany and our socialist development in the GDR in his sermon on the subject of truth, truthfulness, peace . ”The Stasi officers recommended the“ initiation of targeted dismantling measures ”. Nothing is known about the actual implementation of decomposition measures against Gauck. He had no contact with the good dozen fundamental opposition groups that had come together in Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania since the mid-1980s .

Kirchentag 1988

Between 1982 and 1990 Gauck was the head of the Kirchentag work in Mecklenburg. The 1988 Kirchentag (motto: "Build bridges") was already under the impression of the reforms of the Soviet party leader Mikhail Gorbachev . According to Gauck, they wanted to force the SED to enter into an unrestricted dialogue that the party leadership should express its opinion on the environmental, peace and human rights issues that were intensely debated in church circles. A highlight of this Kirchentag was a speech given by the former Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt from the pulpit of the Rostock Marienkirche after a long invitation .

Both the leadership of the Protestant regional church and Gauck did not want to give those wishing to leave a spectacular stage or support protest actions. The participating opposition Heiko Lietz was only appointed as head of a thematic group in advance when he complained to Gauck. According to an interim report by the MfS on August 26, 1987, Gauck was “not interested in any topics […] that are openly directed against the state of the GDR. [...] Although in political terms there are essentially the same objectives between "Larve" (Gauck) and Lietz, they differ significantly in their methodical approach "

Assessments of the Stasi and from the point of view of other people

After the Kirchentag, Stasi captain Terpe went to Gauck for a longer conversation, which he said was "pleasantly surprised". Terpe then noted that this conversation will cause Gauck to “rethink his attitude towards the MfS”, but also stated that Gauck “is not ready for constant regular contact because it contradicts his basic opinion and there are too many things in between stand us ”. In November 1988, the Stasi decided to discontinue the larva operation directed against Gauck : “As part of the processing of the incident, a significant contribution to the discipline of larva was achieved. Based on the processing status, it can be estimated that it will currently not lead to any activities that require further processing in the OV. "

When the citizens' protest against the GDR authorities turned into a mass movement in the north of the country in the second half of October 1989, Gauck gave a sermon on the prophet Amos on October 19 in Rostock , in which he contrasted “killing self-righteousness” with “saving justice”. As a result, he also pleaded for staying in the GDR: “Those who leave us no longer hope.” Gauck saw the revolution of 1989 as a defining experience and described the slogan “ We are the people !” As a translation of the in The French Revolution laid ideals of freedom, equality, fraternity in the protest against the SED regime. The slogan has awakened citizenship. She made people aware that people are not at the disposal of a seemingly eternally secure power, “but that it is us who are in charge”. People have asked themselves: “Is that me? Is that us Are we really that brave, we common cowards? "

Peter-Michael Diestel and Gauck in the Volkskammer (1990)

Gauck's own statements about his relationship at the time with the state organs of the GDR and especially with the MfS were questioned in 2000 by Peter-Michael Diestel , the last GDR interior minister in the de Maizière cabinet. Diestel introduced affidavits from former MfS and SED officials to the debate, according to which Gauck was a “beneficiary of the GDR regime”, based on the index that Gauck's sons Christian and Martin - against their father's will - are leaving the GDR and were also allowed to re-enter for visits. Before the Higher Regional Court of Rostock, Gauck was unsuccessful in his lawsuit against Diestel's testimony (“beneficiary of the Stasi”), but they reached an out-of-court settlement.

The GDR civil rights activist and Der Freitag co-editor Wolfgang Ullmann (1929–2004) denied any form of collaboration between Gauck and the Stasi; he wrote: “Gauck adhered to the regulation in force in the Mecklenburg regional church to notify the church leadership of discussions with the MfS and thus to prevent any conspiracy. If Diestel wants to deny that, he bears the burden of proof, not Gauck. ”The provisions of the Stasi Records Act on beneficiaries of the MfS also do not apply to Gauck.

The East German oppositionist Hans-Jochen Tschiche criticized Gauck's title as a “civil rights activist” in the media and said that the opposition movement did not notice Gauck . Heiko Lietz, also co-founder of the New Forum, said that he had been built into a fictional character, for which he could not be held responsible. Gauck “rejected this state. He was reliable ”, but when the opposition networked across the country, illegally, with risks, Gauck was not there and was also not rooted in the peace movement . The former dissident Vera Lengsfeld replied that the term “civil rights activist” had been applied to all those who resisted the SED regime in autumn 1989, and Tschiche in particular clearly contradicted this. In this respect, “Gauck rightly wears him”. The civil rights activist Werner Schulz also classified him as a civil rights activist. The journalist Gerhard Rein described him as the “civil rights activist of the last hour”. The Times described him as a former dissident : "a former east German dissident priest, regarded by many as a moral authority."

Member of the People's Chamber of the GDR (1990)

Gauck stood in the Volkskammer election on March 18, 1990 in the Rostock district for the Alliance 90 list connection , to which the New Forum (NF) belonged, and was narrowly elected. As a member of parliament, he primarily dealt with the role of the Stasi in the GDR. Within the NF, Gauck, who had been released from daily church service since October 1989, campaigned for the unification of Germany. On May 31, 1990, Gauck justified the motion in the People's Chamber "to set up the special committee to control the dissolution of the MfS / AfNS". Representatives of the citizens' committees were included in the committee work in an advisory capacity. In the constituent meeting of the special committee, Gauck was elected chairman on June 21, 1990.

According to Gauck, one of the central problems within the responsibility of the committee was the composition of the state committee that had existed since February 1990 to dissolve the MfS / AfNS. He had tried to put trustworthy representatives from the citizens' committees at the side of former MfS members who knew the matter and opposed West German demands for the Stasi files to be transferred to the Koblenz Federal Archives , and he also prevented the deliberate destruction of these documents. Gauck saw the files as an important asset for the future formation of democracy as well as an indispensable basis for the legal right of the injured citizens to rehabilitation and the possibility to prove the injustice suffered. He became one of the initiators of the law on the security and use of personal data of the former Ministry for State Security / Office for National Security , which was passed on August 24, 1990 by the People's Chamber.

On September 28, at the last working session of the People's Chamber, Gauck was elected special commissioner for the personal documents of the former state security service of the GDR and on October 3, 1990, the day the GDR joined the Federal Republic of Germany, by Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl confirmed as special commissioner of the federal government for the personal documents of the former state security service in this function.

Officer for the Stasi files (1990–2000)

Joachim Gauck in December 1990

On October 4, 1990, Gauck resigned his mandate as one of the 144 MPs that the People's Chamber had elected to be delegated to the 11th German Bundestag in accordance with Article 42 of the Unification Treaty. This makes him the MP with the shortest term of office to this day. He was dismissed from service as pastor in the Mecklenburg regional church in November 1990 at his own request. As a special representative, Gauck initially resided with only three employees in the vacated complex of the SED central committee in Behrenstrasse , before the authority moved to a building complex in Glinkastrasse that was used by the GDR Interior Ministry before 1989 .

When taking over the Stasi employees, on whom the state dissolution committee had already relied, a pragmatic course was followed, according to Gauck: “Some you couldn't do without because of their specialist knowledge, while others were not arrogant and hateful, but rather cooperative during the transition period and behave in a friendly manner towards civil rights activists . So I asked my confidants in Berlin and in the districts to give me the names of those who might be considered for a takeover, archives specialists and technicians. This request was later repeatedly the subject of violent polemics. "

As a non-lawyer, Gauck saw his main responsibility in a political guideline competence, but not in the specific structure of authorities. Gauck made the former head of department at the Bavarian State Commissioner for Data Protection and later the Protection of the Constitution - and BND President Hansjörg Geiger - his deputy . In early 1991, the foreign press began to notice Gauck. The New York Times dedicated a first article to him on January 20th:

“Mr. Gauck is the official guardian of millions of files that had been collected over the past forty years by agents of the now dissolved East German secret police, the Stasi. His calm insistence that the Germans face the truth about the Stasi made him a hero for some, especially for the victims of the communist leaders who ruled East Germany until last year. Others, however, including some prominent politicians in Bonn, do not wish him well. "

- New York Times : “Germany's New Custodian of Stasi Secrets Insists on Justice” by Stephen Kinzer , January 20, 1991. Translated from English.

With the entry into force of the Stasi Records Act on January 2, 1992, the name of this office changed again: Gauck was now the Federal Commissioner for the records of the State Security Service of the former GDR . On the same day, interested parties concerned were granted access to files for the first time by the Gauck authorities upon request . According to his information, 420,000 requests for private access to files and 130,000 requests for scrutiny of persons in the public service were made in the first hundred days.

During his term of office there was a legal dispute between the authority led by Gauck and the Prime Minister of Brandenburg, Manfred Stolpe . The Berlin Administrative Court ruled on June 3, 1993 that Gauck could no longer claim that Stolpe was an important unofficial member of the State Security. The court rejected Stolpe's request to ban Gauck from all previously judgmental statements.

Unsuccessfully, Gauck turned against the extension of the limitation period , which expired on December 31, 1997, for medium-serious crimes from the GDR era. In his opinion, the previous extension had not had sufficient success. A year later, however, he also spoke out against ending the coming to terms with the GDR past, as a large number of applications for access to files in his authority had still not been processed.

Gauck's first term of office lasted until 1995. On September 21, he was confirmed by the German Bundestag with a large majority as Federal Commissioner for a further five years . Since the law only provides for two terms of office for this function, Gauck vacated his position as head of the authorities on October 10, 2000 for his successor Marianne Birthler. The abbreviation “Gauck Authority”, later also “Birthler Authority”, became established due to the cumbersome official title.

Gauck was criticized for employing Stasi employees in his agency. This is the subject of a confidential “report on the employment of former MfS members at the BStU”, which was prepared by Hans H. Klein and Klaus Schroeder in 2007 on behalf of the Minister of State for Culture Bernd Neumann and published by WikiLeaks . For 1991 they expected at least 79 former Stasi employees, including five former so-called unofficial employees: “Almost all former MfS employees had the possibility of abuse in the first years of the establishment of the agency. They could destroy, displace or smuggle files out, because as security guards, archivists, magazine employees or researchers, they had partially unhindered and unsupervised access to developed, but also to undeveloped material. " “On January 1, 1997, 15 former full-time employees of the MfS were employed by the Federal Commissioner as salaried employees or workers”, the experts dismissed Klein and Schroeder as “wrong”, as at least 46 such people were employed at that time, including Former security guards and bodyguards of the MfS, three former members of the MfS guard regiment and 16 other former full-time employees who were not mentioned. The authority management rejected the allegation with a view to the practice of other authorities at the time. Roland Jahn , Gauck's second successor as head of the authorities, managed to separate such employees and called the employment of former Stasi members a "slap in the face of the victims".

In the 1999/2000 winter semester, Gauck gave lectures on the subject of "1989 - From Subject to Citizen" at the Medical University of Lübeck as part of a visiting professorship .

After leaving the "Gauck Authority" (2000–2012)

Journalistic activity and political engagement

Gauck at a ISHR press conference (2002)
Joachim Gauck at the opening of the Federal President's history competition in 2008 in North Rhine-Westphalia
Speech on the eve of the national holiday in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main in 2009

In the ten years up to his candidacy for the office of Federal President, Gauck appeared as a speaker and panelist at various events and talk shows. From January to November 2001, he hosted the first the 14-day broadcast WDR broadcast Joachim Gauck .

From 2003 until his election as Federal President, Gauck was chairman of the Association Against Forgetting - For Democracy , which campaigns for the confrontation with National Socialism and the SED dictatorship. After his election, he resigned from this honorary position. He advocates the establishment of a center against evictions in Berlin.

He is one of the first to sign the 2008 Prague Declaration and the 2010 Declaration on the Crimes of Communism .

Gauck is a member of the Atlantik-Brücke association and a member of the Senate of the German National Foundation .

From 2001 to 2004, Gauck was Germany's honorary member of the administrative board of the European Monitoring Center for Racism and Xenophobia in Vienna . He is one of the speakers at the Weikersheim Study Center and the Veldensteiner Kreis .

Since 2007 he has been the honorary chairman of the independent committee for the clarification of Stasi questions of the German Olympic Sports Confederation . When he took office as Federal President, he left this position.

Candidate for the office of Federal President 2010

Gauck was nominated for the federal presidential election on June 30, 2010 at the suggestion of the chairmen of the SPD and Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen . He had already been discussed as a candidate for the election of the German Federal President in 1999 , but at that time only within the CSU and not beyond the “preliminary considerations” stage.

The 2010 candidacy met with criticism from some of Gauck's earlier comrades-in-arms. At the same time, an initiative promoted the election of Joachim Gauck : “Nobody embodies the spirit of freedom more than Joachim Gauck.” Gauck, who received a lot of approval in surveys, was more often portrayed as a “candidate of the people” by the media. It was shown that with his vita and his political attitude he could just as well have been a candidate for the conservative-liberal camp. In fact, CDU and FDP politicians such as Jörg Schönbohm and Holger Zastrow also expressed positive opinion about the candidate Gauck. Nevertheless, since the CDU / CSU and FDP with their candidate Christian Wulff provided 644 of the 1244 members of the Federal Assembly , he was given little chance of success. However, Wulff only reached an absolute majority in the third ballot with 625 votes, while Gauck each received more than 30 votes over the 462 seats of the SPD and the Greens. This was interpreted as a “memorandum” from dissatisfied MPs to the CDU / CSU and FDP leaders.

Private life and family

Joachim Gauck has been married to Gerhild "Hansi" Gauck (née Radtke ) since August 22, 1959 and has four children with her. These were subjected to repression in the GDR. His two sons were denied the Abitur in the extended secondary school or a degree. They left the GDR for the Federal Republic with their wives and children at the end of 1987. Christian Gauck studied medicine in Hamburg and works there as a doctor. The eldest daughter left for Bremen in the summer of 1989.

Gauck has been separated from his wife since 1991; the marriage was not divorced. Gerhild Gauck lives in Rostock, where she works on a voluntary basis in the Café Marientreff , a meeting place run by the Drehscheibe association. Joachim Gauck's partner was the ZEIT journalist Helga Hirsch from 1990 to 1998 . This is still his confidante and advisor. He has lived with the journalist Daniela Schadt since 2000 .

Joachim Gauck originally intended to stay in his apartment in Berlin-Schöneberg as Federal President . In order to avoid inconvenience for his neighbors due to the security requirements, he and Schadt moved in July 2012 to the service villa for Federal President, the former Villa Wurmbach on Pücklerstraße in Berlin-Dahlem .

On August 8, 2012, Gauck became an honorary citizen of the Hanseatic city ​​by being awarded the letter of honor from the city of Rostock in the St. Mary's Church .

Federal Presidency (2012 to 2017)

The election of the Federal President and its history

Joachim Gauck (2012)

After the resignation of Federal President Christian Wulff on February 17, 2012 as a result of the Wulff affair , Chancellor Merkel announced a proposal for his successor, which should also be approved by the opposition parties SPD and Greens; She ruled out talks with the Die Linke party . Joachim Gauck was first brought up again as a candidate by the SPD and Bündnis 90 / Greens. On February 19, Gauck initially received the support of the FDP, and later, under pressure, also that of the Union . In the evening, the party leaders of the CDU / CSU, FDP, SPD and the Greens met in the Chancellery and presented Joachim Gauck as a joint candidate. On February 20, 2012, a survey of 1,122 respondents showed an approval of 69% for Gauck as Federal President (16% rejection, remainder: no opinion).

Gauck's comments on Sarrazin , Occupy Wall Street , Stuttgart 21 , Hartz IV, and data retention sparked a brief controversy over his suitability for the office. This debate was carried out in particular on social networks on the Internet. Individual politicians in the Greens then announced that they would reserve the right to reject Gauck. The thesis was expressed in some media that the criticism tore Gauck's statements out of context and gave him positions that he did not represent.

On March 18, 2012, Gauck was elected 11th Federal President of Germany by the 15th Federal Assembly . He received 991 of 1228 valid votes. His term began in accordance with § 10 BPräsWahlG , in the Federal Assembly when he said after the announcement of the election results President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert declared the acceptance of the election.

In July 2012 it was announced that the journalist and author Ferdos Forudastan , an expert on migration and integration issues, would be the new spokesperson for Federal President Gauck.

On September 8, 2015, Gauck, the oldest incumbent Federal President, overtook his predecessor Theodor Heuss , the first Federal President.

On June 6, 2016, Gauck announced that he would not be available for a second term as Federal President. On March 17, 2017, one day before the end of his term in office, Gauck was bid farewell as part of a major tattoo . For the Zapfenstreich he had chosen the songs Over seven bridges you have to go by the GDR rock band Karat , the folk song Freedom, which I mean, and the hymn A solid castle is our God chosen by Martin Luther .

Visits abroad as Federal President


date place Main reason
March 26th and 27th Warsaw ( Poland )PolandPoland  Meeting with President Bronisław Komorowski , Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Parliament President Ewa Kopacz
April 16th and 17th Brussels ( Belgium )BelgiumBelgium  Meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen , the Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo , the president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
Strasbourg ( France )FranceFrance  Meeting with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz
May 4th Stockholm ( Sweden )SwedenSweden  Meeting with King Carl XVI. Gustaf and with Queen Silvia of Sweden
May 5th and 6th Breda and Amsterdam ( Netherlands )NetherlandsNetherlands  During his visit, he was the first foreign head of state to give the keynote speech on May 5, on the occasion of the celebrations for the anniversary of the liberation from German occupation in Breda . Under the title “Celebrating Liberation - Living Responsibility”, he emphasized the awareness of German guilt and remembered the more than 100,000 Dutch Jews killed. Gauck also commented on the Dutch war criminal Klaas Carel Faber (who died shortly afterwards) , who had lived in Germany since 1952 and, as a German citizen, could not be extradited without his consent: "We have no interest in protecting criminals." He said but also, the legal system must of course be respected: "I am not a king."
May 11th and 12th Yalta and Crimea ( Ukraine )UkraineUkraine  On April 25, 2012 it was announced that Gauck had canceled the planned trip to Ukraine. Central European presidents were supposed to meet there - in Yalta in the Crimea . When the presidents of Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia boycotted the meeting, it was canceled. The background to this was deep concern about the fate of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko .
May 28th to 30th Tel Aviv , Jerusalem and Rehovot ( Israel ), Ramallah and Burin ( Palestine )IsraelIsrael Palastina autonomous areasPalestine  In Israel, Gauck spoke out in favor of a two-state solution and a change in Israeli settlement policy . The “legitimate concerns of the Palestinian people” must be taken into account, as must Israel's right to live in peace and within secure borders. “The advocacy of Israel's security and right to exist” is “decisive for German politics”. Gauck said the Iranian nuclear program was "a threat not only to Israel, but also a potential threat to Europe," but warned against a military solution to the conflict. In Ramallah , Gauck met the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas .
June 11th Chur ( Switzerland )SwitzerlandSwitzerland  Talks with the Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer , the Hereditary Prince Alois von Liechtenstein and the Swiss Federal President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf at the meeting of the German-speaking heads of state
15th June Rome ( Italy )ItalyItaly  Meeting with the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti
2nd July Paris ( France )FranceFrance  Meeting with the French President François Hollande
July 27th and 28th London ( United Kingdom )United KingdomUnited Kingdom  Attended the 2012 Summer Olympics
August 2nd Küstrin ( Poland )PolandPoland  Meeting with the Polish President Bronisław Komorowski , joint opening of the Przystanek Woodstock Music Festival
August 16 Vienna ( Austria )AustriaAustria  Meeting with the Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer and the Austrian Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann
August 29th and 30th London ( United Kingdom )United KingdomUnited Kingdom  Attended the 2012 Summer Paralympics
September 11 Copenhagen ( Denmark )DenmarkDenmark  Meeting with Queen Margrethe of Denmark
October 10th Prague ( Czech Republic )Czech RepublicCzech Republic  Meeting with the Czech President Václav Klaus and the Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas
November 13th London ( United Kingdom )United KingdomUnited Kingdom  Meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
November 19th and 20th Naples ( Italy )ItalyItaly  Trilateral meeting with the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and the Polish President Bronisław Komorowski
December 5th and 6th Vatican City ( Vatican City ) and Rome ( Italy )Vatican cityVatican ItalyItaly  including private audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
December 7th and 8th Zagreb ( Croatia )CroatiaCroatia  including meeting with the Croatian President Ivo Josipović
December 17th to 19th Mazar-e Sharif and Kabul ( Afghanistan )AfghanistanAfghanistan  Visit of German Bundeswehr troops and meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai


date place Main reason
February 25 Geneva ( Switzerland )SwitzerlandSwitzerland  Gauck gave a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council , toured the Museum of the International Red Cross and visited the German School in Geneva to discuss human rights with students .
March 17th to 20th Addis Ababa and Lalibela ( Ethiopia )EthiopiaEthiopia  i.a. Meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn , the Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis and the chairman of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
March 24th Sant'Anna di Stazzema ( Italy )ItalyItaly  Meeting with the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano
April 22 Strasbourg ( France )FranceFrance  Speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, visit to the European Court of Human Rights
May 8th to 12th Bogotá and Medellín ( Colombia )ColombiaColombia 
  • Visit to the San Francisco Church
  • Wreath-laying at the monument to Simon Bolivar
  • Meeting with President Santos Caldéron
  • Ride with the city cable car
  • Visit to the botanical garden
May 13-16 São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro ( Brazil )BrazilBrazil 
  • Meeting with President Dilma Rousseff
  • Participation in the German-Brazilian Business Days
  • Visit to the Volkswagen plant
  • Meeting with the Governor of Rio de Janeiro Sergio Cabral
  • Ride with the rack railway through the national park "Floresta da Tijuca"
  • Visit to the statue of Christ
30th May The Hague ( Netherlands )NetherlandsNetherlands  Visit of the International Criminal Court , the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice
July 5th and 6th Savonlinna and Turku ( Finland )FinlandFinland 
  • Meeting with President Sauli Niinistö
  • Participation in the opening performance of the Savonlinna Opera Festival at Olavinlinna Castle
July 6th to 8th Riga ( Latvia )LatviaLatvia 
July 8th and 10th Valmiera and Tallinn ( Estonia )EstoniaEstonia 
July 10-13 Vilnius , Palanga , Klaipėda and Nida ( Lithuania )LithuaniaLithuania 
July 19th Salzburg ( Austria )AustriaAustria 
September 3rd to 5th Paris , Oradour-sur-Glane and Marseille ( France )FranceFrance  5th state visit: France There Gauck visited Oradour-sur-Glane , where soldiers of the Waffen-SS murdered 642 of 648 villagers on June 10, 1944 . Before that, Gauck was in Sant'Anna di Stazzema (Tuscany), Lidice (Czech Republic) and Breda (Netherlands). FranceFrance 
September 9th Innsbruck ( Austria )AustriaAustria  Participation in the meeting of German-speaking heads of state
October 7th and 8th Krakow ( Poland )PolandPoland  Among other things, participation in a trilateral meeting with the heads of state of Poland and Italy
October 18 Słubice ( Poland )PolandPoland 
10th of December Johannesburg ( South Africa )South AfricaSouth Africa  Participation in the memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela


On December 8, 2013, Der Spiegel reported that Gauck had informed the Russian government last week that he would not be traveling to the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February 2014 . According to Spiegel information, the cancellation should be understood as a criticism of the human rights violations and harassment of the opposition in Russia. In contrast, a spokeswoman for Gaucks stated that his decision not to attend the games should not be understood as a boycott. In 2010, the then Federal President Horst Köhler decided not to travel to the Winter Games in Vancouver .

date place Main reason
February 4th to 8th New Delhi and Bengaluru ( India )IndiaIndia  state visit
  • Meeting with the President of India Pranab Mukherjee
  • Wreath-laying at the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi
  • Meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
  • Visit to Infosys
  • Visit to Bosch India
  • Visit to the COIR coconut fiber project
February 9-12 Yangon and Naypyidaw ( Myanmar )MyanmarMyanmar  state visit
  • Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Meeting with the President of Myanmar Thein Sein
  • Welcome and participation in the opening of the Goethe-Institut Rangun
March 5-7 Athens and Ioannina ( Greece )GreeceGreece  state visit
  • Meeting with the President of Greece Karolos Papoulias and his wife May Papoulia
  • Laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • Wreath-laying ceremony at the Lingiades Memorial
April 1st to 2nd Bern and Geneva ( Switzerland )SwitzerlandSwitzerland  Meeting with the Swiss Federal President Didier Burkhalter and tour of CERN
April 26-29 Kahramanmaraş , Ankara and Istanbul ( Turkey )TurkeyTurkey 
May 5th to 7th Prague and Mladá Boleslav ( Czech Republic )Czech RepublicCzech Republic 
May 13th Uddel ( Netherlands )NetherlandsNetherlands  Visit to the I. German-Dutch Corps
June 4th Warsaw ( Poland )PolandPoland  Participation in the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the first semi-free elections in Poland
June 7th Kiev ( Ukraine )UkraineUkraine  Participation in the inauguration of Petro Poroshenko
June 10-13 Oslo and Trondheim ( Norway )NorwayNorway  state visit
  • Meeting with King Harald V and Queen Sonja
  • Meeting with Prime Minister Erna Solberg
  • Opening of the Youngwood Festival in Oslo
  • Visit to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and talk to students
June 16 Budapest ( Hungary )HungaryHungary  Meeting with the heads of state of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to commemorate the peaceful revolution of 1989
June 23-25 Lisbon and Sintra ( Portugal )PortugalPortugal  state visit
  • Visit to the Jeronimos Monastery and laying a wreath at the tomb of the national poet Luís Vaz Camões
  • Meeting with the President of Portugal Aníbal Cavaco Silva
  • Tour through the assembly hall of the Volkswagen assembly plant "Autoeuropa"
July 13th Rio de Janeiro ( Brazil )BrazilBrazil  Attending the final of the soccer World Cup between Germany and Argentina
3rd August Hartmannswiller ( France )FranceFrance  Visit to the Hartmannswillerkopf ; Participation in a commemorative event for the outbreak of the First World War 100 years ago, together with the French President François Hollande
4th of August Liège , Leuven and Mons ( Belgium )BelgiumBelgium  Participation in commemorative events for the outbreak of the First World War 100 years ago, together with other heads of state
August 30th Maastricht ( Netherlands )NetherlandsNetherlands  Participation in the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
September 1 Gdansk ( Poland )PolandPoland  Participation in the commemoration of the German invasion of Poland in 1939
September 24-27 Ottawa , Toronto and Québec ( Canada )CanadaCanada 
September 29th to 30th Braga ( Portugal )PortugalPortugal  Meeting of the Arraiolos group
November 3rd to 5th Luxembourg , Vianden , Schengen and Esch an der Alzette ( Luxembourg )LuxembourgLuxembourg 
  • Meeting with Grand Duke Henri , Prime Minister Xavier Bettel , Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn and Parliament President Mars Di Bartolomeo
  • Participation in the ceremony for the expansion of the Vianden pumped storage power plant
  • Visit to the M2000 monument in Schengen
November 16 and 17 Bratislava ( Slovakia )SlovakiaSlovakia 

Participation in the official celebrations with the presidents of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary (Visegrád states) and Germany on the occasion of "25 years of the Velvet Revolution"

Prague ( Czech Republic )Czech RepublicCzech Republic 
  • Joint wreath-laying ceremony with the President of Slovakia and the President of Poland
  • Meeting of the Presidents of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Germany with the President of the Czech Republic
  • Opening of the exhibition “17. November 1939 and 1989 "
  • Unveiling of a memorial plaque on the occasion of "25 years of the Velvet Revolution"
November 25th and 26th Ljubljana and Nova Gorica ( Slovenia )SloveniaSlovenia 

Meeting with President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Miro Cerar

11th December Turin ( Italy )ItalyItaly  Address at the opening of the first Italian-German dialogue forum


date place Main reason
January 27th Oświęcim ( Poland )PolandPoland  Participation in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau
February 3rd to 6th Dar es Salaam , Zanzibar , Arusha and Seronera ( Tanzania )TanzaniaTanzania 
February 22 Kiev ( Ukraine )UkraineUkraine  Participation in the memorial march for the victims of the protests on the Maidan
March 20th to 24th Lima , Ayacucho , Cusco , Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu ( Peru )PeruPeru 
  • Meeting with the Peruvian President Ollanta Humala
  • Visit to the region around Ayacucho, a priority region of German development cooperation
  • Visit the ruined city of Machu Picchu
March 24-26 Montevideo ( Uruguay )UruguayUruguay 

The state visit to Uruguay - a meeting with the Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez was planned - was canceled. Federal President Gauck broke off his trip to South America due to the Germanwings plane crash in southern France and flew back to Germany from Peru.

April 27 Vienna ( Austria )AustriaAustria 
  • Meeting with the Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer
  • Participation in the state ceremony on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the 2nd republic
April 27-29 Tunis and Siliana ( Tunisia )TunisiaTunisia 
  • Meeting with the Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi
  • Meeting with the Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid
  • Meeting with the governor of Siliana and visiting a German company
April 29th and 30th Valletta , Marsa and Attard ( Malta )MaltaMalta 
  • Meeting with the Maltese President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca
  • Meeting with the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
  • Visit to a refugee center in Marsa
  • Talks with other political representatives of Malta
May 4th Warsaw ( Poland )PolandPoland  Participation in the funeral service for Władysław Bartoszewski
July 13th to 15th Dublin , Galway and Cliffs of Moher ( Ireland )IrelandIreland 
September 16 and 17 Vaduz and Triesenberg ( Liechtenstein )LiechtensteinLiechtenstein 
October 6th to 8th Philadelphia and Washington, DC ( United States )United StatesUnited States 
October 10-14 Seoul and Paju ( South Korea )Korea SouthSouth Korea 
October 15-16 Ulaanbaatar and Karakoram ( Mongolia )MongoliaMongolia 
  • State visit to Mongolia
  • Conversation with the Mongolian President Tsachiagiin Elbegdorsch
  • Interview with the President of Parliament
  • Conversation with Mongolian soldiers and their German trainers
  • Visit to the German-Mongolian University for Raw Materials and Technology
  • Visit the ruins of the Karakoram
December 5th and 6th Tel Aviv and Jerusalem ( Israel )IsraelIsrael 
December 7th and 8th Amman and Azraq ( Jordan )JordanJordan 
  • Meeting with the King of Jordan, Abdullah II bin al-Hussein
  • Talks with civil society
  • Visit to a refugee camp for Syrian refugees


date place Main reason
January 20th Davos ( Switzerland )SwitzerlandSwitzerland  Participation in the World Economic Forum
February 8-11 Abuja and Lagos  ( Nigeria )NigeriaNigeria 
February 12th Bamako and Koulikoro ( Mali )MaliMali 
March 8-10 Brussels , Antwerp , Mechelen , Liège and Eupen ( Belgium )BelgiumBelgium 

state visit

March 20th to March 25th Beijing , Shanghai and Xi'an ( People's Republic of China )China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China 

state visit

  • Conversation with President Xi Jinping
  • Talks with intellectuals, artists, students and representatives of religious communities
April 13th Turin ( Italy )ItalyItaly  Participation in the Italian-German dialogue forum and meeting with President Sergio Mattarella
May 31st and June 1st Orkney and London ( United Kingdom )United KingdomUnited Kingdom 
17th of June Warsaw ( Poland )PolandPoland  Meeting with President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydło
June 20-22 Bucharest and Sibiu ( Romania )RomaniaRomania 
  • Meeting with President Klaus Johannis , Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș and the chairmen of the two chambers of parliament
  • Discussion with representatives of the Romanian and German economy
  • Interview with representatives of civil society
June 22nd to 24th Sofia and Pirdop ( Bulgaria )BulgariaBulgaria 
  • Meeting with President Rossen Plevnelev and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov as well as the President of the People's Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria, Zezka Zacheva
  • Participation in the opening of the German-Bulgarian economic forum
June 24th Ljubljana ( Slovenia )SloveniaSlovenia  Meeting with President Borut Pahor and taking part in the celebrations for the founding of the state and the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Slovenia
July 11-13 Santiago de Chile ( Chile )ChileChile 

state visit

  • Talks with representatives of the constitutional organs, including President Michelle Bachelet
July 14-16 Montevideo ( Uruguay )UruguayUruguay 

state visit

  • Talks with representatives of the constitutional organs, including President Tabaré Vázquez
  • Participation in the presentation of two special postage stamps for the Uruguayan Post on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Uruguay
  • Visit to a Bader production facility
September 7th and 8th Brussels and Eupen ( Belgium )BelgiumBelgium  Participation in the meeting of German-speaking heads of state
September 14th and 15th Sofia and Plovdiv ( Bulgaria )BulgariaBulgaria  Participation in the meeting of the Arraiolos group
September 29th Kiev ( Ukraine )UkraineUkraine  Participation in the commemorative events for the 75th anniversary of the mass executions of Babyn Yar
30. September Jerusalem ( Israel )IsraelIsrael  Participation in the funeral services for the former Israeli President Shimon Peres
November 10th Gdansk ( Poland )PolandPoland  Visit to the European Solidarity Center
November 13th to 18th, 2016 Tokyo , Kyoto and Nagasaki ( Japan )JapanJapan 
November 28th Szczecin ( Poland )PolandPoland  Visit of the Multinational North-East Corps of NATO accompanied by the Polish President Andrzej Duda


date place Main reason
January 25th and 26th Paris ( France )FranceFrance  Meeting with French President François Hollande and receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Paris-Sorbonne
February 1st Madrid ( Spain )SpainSpain  Lunch with the Spanish King Felipe VI. and Queen Letizia as well as a visit to the Museo del Prado
February 6th and 7th The Hague and Maastricht ( Netherlands )NetherlandsNetherlands 
February 9 Riga ( Latvia )LatviaLatvia  Meeting with the Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis , the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and the Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid

Reception and controversy

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Walter Eucken Institute , Joachim Gauck gave a speech on January 16, 2014 in Freiburg im Breisgau and paid tribute to the neoliberal economist Walter Eucken . The chairman of the Left Party , Bernd Riexinger , then criticized Gauck's plea for more free market freedom as “very partisan interference”. According to Riexinger, neoliberalism is not a reason of state in Germany . "The Basic Law protects the welfare state and not all-against-all capitalism."

On June 27, 2014, the Federal President criticized Russia on the occasion of an exhibition opening on the centenary of the Sarajevo assassination attempt : “Russia's resistance to Ukraine rapprochement with the European Union has confronted us with patterns of thought and behavior that we have long had on our continent overcame. What we are experiencing today is old thinking in spheres of power and influence - up to the destabilization of foreign states and the annexation of foreign territories. "

On September 1, 2014, on the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, Gauck gave a speech in Gdansk. In it he criticized that Russia had de facto terminated the partnership with the West that had existed since the end of the East-West conflict , and alluded to the Russian annexation of Crimea and Moscow's support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine : "History teaches us that territorial concessions often only increase the appetite of aggressors, ”warned the Federal President. A number of renowned historians commented on Gauck's political statements and the historical references in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, some approvingly and some critically.

On April 23, 2015, Gauck described the genocide of the Armenians as “genocide” in a speech. The Turkish Foreign Ministry then criticized the Federal President's choice of words. Gauck has “no right to accuse the Turkish nation of a crime that it has not committed”. The Turkish people will “neither forget nor forgive” Gauck's statements.

Farewell speech as Federal President

On January 18, 2017, at the end of his term in office, Gauck gave a speech on the question “How should it look, our country?” In the FAZ it was stated in summary that the “republican defense readiness” called for by Gauck would be “in the future” the German democrats stronger than before ”,“ inside and out ”.

Political positions

Joachim Gauck 2009

Gauck calls himself a “left, liberal conservative”, describes himself as an “enlightened patriot” and a “lover of freedom ”. His concept of freedom is based, among other things, on the poet and politician Václav Havel and on the work The Fear of Freedom by the social psychologist Erich Fromm . Gauck explains the special role of the freedom motif in one's own political thinking with the experience in the GDR. The common oppression led to intense experiences and to a counterculture in faith, in music and in poems that contained hidden messages and strengthened awareness: “We claim a free space against them . […] There is also something disenchanting about understanding that life in freedom provides easy access to the essential things. Freedom, which has become normal, then seems quite banal. "

When the red-red coalition in Berlin wanted to introduce " Lebenskunde, Ethik, Religion " (LER) as a compulsory subject in addition to the optional religious instruction in Berlin schools in 2005 , Gauck signed a list in which religious instruction was requested as an alternative to LER as an elective. In an interview published in 2010 in the Süddeutsche Zeitung , Gauck commented on the issues of patriotism and capitalism , integration policy and the role of the media in democracy.

Advocate of parliamentary-democratic structures

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Volkskammer election on March 18, 1990 , Gauck, as Federal President, affirmed his advocacy of parliamentarism and party democracy in an article in Die Zeit . Although the turnout was owed by that time 93.4 percent of eligible participants in this first free and secret elections in the GDR unique circumstances, but the fact general conclusions could be derived: "pressure for change" would lead to increased voter turnout, as well as the general election in 1972 with 91.1 percent participation of the electorate showed when it came to the new Ostpolitik .

Meanwhile, voter turnout in eastern Germany is often lower than in the west, perhaps due to disillusionment and disappointment with the economic and social consequences of reunification . This means a practical test for representative democracy, in which communication between the rulers and the ruled must be strengthened. "Just as you use staff and other resources to research factual issues and turn them into political projects, politics must use more resources to explain in an understandable way what it is doing for the benefit of the population in the general interest."

Gauck explains that 25 years ago he expected more from plebiscitary elements than he does today. The partial interests of a regional, numerically limited population group could easily gain disproportionate political influence through a referendum and would by no means automatically have more legitimacy than the decisions of elected bodies. The parties are required "to relate individual phenomena to the big picture and to translate conflicting interests into politics." Every democratic election is great. “Because it confers a double dignity: it makes those who vote sovereign; and it gives the elected the dignity of legitimacy. "

Citizen participation and protests

Looking back on the political developments in 2010, Gauck emphasized in a conversation with the Tagesspiegel the need for greater political commitment on the part of citizens. He advocated debates on more plebiscitary elements at the federal level and on the direct election of the Federal President. In a speech to scholarship holders of the German Academic Exchange Service , he complained about the "lack of culture of frustration" prevailing in Germany. He initially rated the citizens' protests against the Stuttgart 21 rail project as positive: "Regardless of how you rate the protests about Stuttgart 21 in terms of content, you have to be happy that citizens are getting up from their sofas and taking part in the democratic decision-making process." however, he also faces a culture of protest that only “flares up when it comes to one's own front yard”.

To the totalitarianism debate

Gauck at the Historikertag in Göttingen, September 2014

When assessing the systems of rule of the 20th century, Gauck takes a totalitarian theory point of view. In 1998 he wrote in the Black Book of Communism :

“A sober consideration of the political situation will nevertheless come to a judgment that classifies communism as totalitarian as well as national socialism . [...] The diversity of ideologies is immediately noticeable. The comparison of the forms of government, the organs of the state and the written law also reveals greater differences than correspondences. However, anyone who compares the specific technique of rule, the subservient role of law and the permanent use of terrorism, will find similarities just as much as when examining the consequences of state terrorist rule on citizens. "

Gauck's views have met with criticism. The educational scientist Micha Brumlik affirmed that National Socialism and Stalinism were to be morally equated. However, Gauck's political judgment was "understandably impaired by personal concern" when he declared all regimes of the Eastern bloc before 1989 to be cases of totalitarianism. Brumlik pointed out that the political theorist Hannah Arendt , to whom Gauck had also referred, only described Stalinism in the Soviet Union and its satellite states after 1945, but not the post- Stalin era after 1953, as totalitarian.

In an interview with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit , Gauck emphasizes his general suspicion as an adolescent regarding the Nazi past of his parents' generation, his piercing interest in the role of his father in the Nazi era and his anger, which can only be explained psychologically, about "that he did so little was entangled. "The anti-fascist orientation of the early GDR Gauck denied the consequence and judged:" It was Stalinist terror with only selective anti-fascism. "

Attitude to individual parties

Gauck was critical of the union of Bündnis 90 , of which he was an active member, with the Greens in 1993 in Tagesspiegel 2003.

A speech given by Gauck in the Saxon Landtag in 2007 on the Day of German Unity was boycotted by the parliamentary group of the Left Party . In the course of his candidacy as Federal President in 2010, Gauck spoke out in favor of the surveillance of the party by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and emphasized that he could “still see no link between the Left Party and the European democracy project”. Gauck welcomed the distancing of the SPD from the left following his presidential candidacy in 2010; he recognizes that among the radicals of the Die Linke party - Gauck mentioned Ulla Jelpke and Sahra Wagenknecht - “many references to old, Bolshevik ideas. These are partly not only Marxist , but also Leninist echoes ”.

Gauck viewed the pirates' successes in the German party system up to 2012 as a "very interesting phenomenon": a state of mind turns into politically relevant action there. People wanted to participate by being elected to parliaments. That makes him happy. "We'll see when they bring which answers into the political discourse."

In 2013, Gauck described supporters of the NPD as a “nut”. After a lawsuit by the NPD, the Federal Constitutional Court found that the word could be defamatory when viewed in isolation, but in the specific case it had been used as a collective term for people “who did not understand history and were unimpressed by the devastating consequences of National Socialism , represent right-wing extremist beliefs ”. Therefore the complaint of the NPD against Gauck's statement was unsuccessful.

In early November 2014, in an interview with ARD, Gauck criticized the possible formation of a red-red-green coalition in Thuringia under the leadership of Bodo Ramelow . "People who have experienced the GDR and are my age have to work hard to accept this," he said in the report from Berlin . Politicians from the left and the SPD accused him of interfering in the formation of a government in Thuringia, while he was defended by politicians from the CDU, the Greens and the FDP.

Social policy, Agenda 2010

Joachim Gauck on November 29, 2010 in Munich

In 1990 Gauck outlined the majority desire in the New Forum for a socially structured market economy based on the basic statement: "We want social security and the market should apply, but it should not determine everything."

In 2010 he said with reference to social policy : “We do not like to ask ourselves whether solidarity and caring do not also contribute to letting us slacken.” “The dream is still dreamed of the authorities who mean well to us and in whose care we can safely place ourselves ”. Gauck is considered a supporter of Gerhard Schröder's reform policy ( Agenda 2010 ), which he praised in an interview with Die Welt : “When Chancellor Schröder once raised the question of how much care the country could still afford, he took a risk. […] We need such attempts with courage again today. ”In the Berliner Zeitung he called the term Monday demonstration under the sign of social protests against Hartz IV“ foolish and forgotten about history ”. He expressly supported the exercise of the right to demonstrate; but whoever demonstrates with good reason does not need a false label. In June 2010, Gauck said about retirement at 67 : "If the population is getting older, we have to think about the participation of the generations." There are many good reasons for retiring at 67.

After his election as Federal President, Gauck said that he did not want “the welfare state to be damaged”. He appreciated a social policy that trains those who are socially deprived to get back into work processes, and that “not just sedatives”. For solidarity pact for the new federal states he said that money should be strengthened distributed to needy regions and not only by geographical criteria. During his travels to North Rhine-Westphalia , for example , he “saw conditions that I no longer know from East Germany”.

Data retention, Wikileaks, whistleblowers

With regard to data retention , Gauck said in December 2010 at the Burgtheater in Vienna that he shared the concerns about the unprovoked storage of electronic communication data for all citizens, but did not see the Federal Republic in danger of becoming a spy state. While Gauck's remarks on data retention worried the data retention working group in particular , support came from other sources. For example, the security researcher Sandro Gaycken from the Free University of Berlin praised him for his "very calm and sensible attitude".

The publication of “stolen material” on the online whistleblower platform Wikileaks was criticized by Gauck: “I cannot accept that this is celebrated, that is an elementary loss of rights.” In 2007 Wikileaks had a confidential report on, among other things Stasi employees published in the authority of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi files.


After the US surveillance program PRISM became known in mid-2013, Gauck said in the 2013 ZDF summer interview : “We don't want a society in which we have what has been so laboriously achieved, namely our civil liberties, in which these are undermined. And that's why I'm wide awake when it comes to organizing security measures. I don't want my family, anyone in the country, to be left open to danger. I want defense - but it has to be proportionate. "When comparing the National Security Agency with the Ministry for State Security , Gauck explained:" We know, for example, that it is not like the Stasi and the KGB , that there are thick volumes of files, in which the contents of our conversation are all written down and nicely filed [...] for the time being we tolerate - this is also possible under our law - that certain search terms can then also be checked - the traffic via mobile phones. If certain terms appear that indicate dangers, then it is also possible in Germany to intervene here and secure information. ”When asked whether he had any understanding or even sympathy for the Prism revelator Edward Snowden , he replied that he needed it even more information. For Snowden he would then have sympathy and respect "when a government is about to bend the law, and those who feel called to make this bend of the law public [...] are also prepared to take responsibility for it", whereas he has no understanding for “pure betrayal” or for exceeding commitments made by himself.

Bundeswehr and German mission in Afghanistan

During his inaugural visit as Federal President in June 2012, Gauck also spoke in general about German soldiers' missions abroad in front of the Bundeswehr leadership academy . His words met with criticism in the media and the political public. Bearing in mind the various past experiences with the organization of the military in Germany, he said:

“What luck that, after all the crimes of the National Socialist dictatorship and after the horrors of war, it was possible to create such an army in this country: an army of the people, in the best, true sense, no state within a state, none Party army, but a 'parliamentary army', tied to democratic values, to the Basic Law and the Soldiers' Law; an army under the authority of a civilian, recruited from self-reliant citizens and today also women who are formed into critical spirits in institutions like this one; an army whose operations are subject to the approval of our representatives and - if not enough - are discussed publicly. [...] We do not want to be bothered with the thought that in the long term it could affect us too if states collapse or terror spreads elsewhere if human rights are systematically disregarded. We do not like to think that there are war invalids in our midst again today. People who have paid for their commitment to Germany with their physical or mental health. And the fact that there are German dead again is difficult for society to endure. [...] Many see freedom and well-being as the responsibility of the state and democracy. Some confuse freedom with thoughtlessness, indifference and hedonism. Others are very good at exercising their rights or, if necessary, vehemently demanding them. And we tend to forget that a functioning democracy also requires commitment, attention, courage, and sometimes the utmost that a person can give: life, one's own life. […] Here, in the Bundeswehr, I meet people who are willing to stand up for something - to a certain extent, 'courageous citizens in uniform'! "

2010 Gauck took the view that the German soldiers deployed in Afghanistan fought there on behalf of the United Nations against terrorists and also contributed well for the Afghan population. In response to criticism from the party Die Linke, he made it clear that he found the deployment “not good, but tolerable and justified” and accused opponents of the Afghanistan deployment for earlier support for liberation struggles on the part of the political left , a tactical one, but none cultivate ethical pacifism .

Energy policy

In October 2011, Gauck criticized the amendment to the Atomic Energy Act , which in response to the Fukushima reactor disaster resolved to shut down all power plants by 2022 at the latest - and withdrew the extension of the term of operation that the Christian-liberal governing coalition had previously planned in 2010 : one could not make such important political decisions depend on the sentiments of the nation. But this is exactly what the government under Angela Merkel did because the fear of the next election defeat guided political action.

On June 5, 2012, Gauck warned that the energy transition would not succeed with “planned economy regulations” alone, nor with “excessive subsidies”; instead he called for “convincing innovations” within the framework of fair competition. This referred to the planned cut in solar subsidies in view of the sharp fall in module prices, which the Federal Council had initially stopped and referred to the mediation committee.

At the same time, in view of global warming and other environmental damage, he clearly spoke out in favor of the energy transition, for which a reliable political framework is needed in order to avoid what is harmful and to be able to achieve what is desired. For him, a market-based, growth-friendly environmental policy means charging the costs of environmental pollution and environmental risks to the polluters, not to the taxpayers. In contrast, environmentally friendly production should pay off for companies in competition. Gauck warned against burdening future generations with the costs of environmental policy, since such an attitude would be “simply irresponsible”. Every life on earth can only develop “in harmony with nature”; therefore, in the long term, only what is ecologically sensible makes economic sense. On the occasion of Peter Altmaier's appointment as the new Federal Environment Minister, Gauck called for a binding, global climate agreement .

Debate on Capitalism, Occupy Wall Street

In the GDR, Gauck said he was at times benevolent towards socialism , where he identified a closeness to Christian ideas and an attempt to develop an emancipatory society. During the time of reunification, however, he complained that the GDR adhered to “Marxist dogmas” and that there was no “further development of an effective economy”. On behalf of a majority of the New Forum, Gauck assumed “that there is no such thing as a socialist and a capitalist economy, but that there are economic laws that apply”.

Since then, Gauck has been an advocate of the market economy : Anyone who wants “everyone to be fine, that there is a diversification of property, wealth creation in the hands of employees” and “a social network that deserves this name”, must, according to Gauck, “unite wish very well functioning capitalism ”. "Those who love freedom will have to be comfortable with wanting freedom in economic processes too," he demands. The neoliberals and others had sensed “that in addition to this freedom in the economy, creative will and creative elements from the political arena can be added without destroying this principle.” Gauck rejects a “dull, unenlightened anti-capitalism ” because its concepts are not effective. Nevertheless, capitalist economic systems should be judged just as critically as the various political directions: “It should and must be debated whether conservative, liberal or leftist ideas of a social market economy are more fair or offer better solutions for future crises.” The system is capable of learning and has Exemplary character, even the East Germans and the left professors "realized that we could not come up with a new, third way ."

He was skeptical about the Occupy Wall Street movement . He went so far as to call the anti-capitalism debate “unspeakably silly”, a dreamy romantic notion in which one wanted to get rid of the ties to markets in the mistake that one's own alienation would then be over. He added: "I lived in a country where the banks were occupied." Scientists like Hubertus Buchstein and Dieter Rucht contradicted Gauck's assessment, because there are serious questions and real problems such as the regulation of banks.

Islam in Germany

In an interview with ZEIT in May 2012, Gauck distanced himself from the statement made by his predecessor Wulff that Islam belongs to Germany. He couldn't take over this sentence like that,

“But I accept his intention. The intention was to say: folks, please take a deep breath and open yourself to reality. And the reality is that there are many Muslims in this country.

ZEIT: How would you have formulated the sentence, did you ask yourself that?

Gauck: I would have simply said that the Muslims who live here belong to Germany. In my inaugural address, I spoke of the commonality of the different. Behind this is an idea of ​​home not through birth, but the affirmation of the place and the norms that apply in this place. Anyone who has come here and not only pays taxes, but also likes to be here, also because he has rights and freedoms here that he does not have where he comes from, belongs to us as long as he does not negate these principles. That is why one-sentence formulations about belonging are always problematic, especially when it comes to delicate things like religion. "

Wulff's remarks sparked a long debate in Germany in 2010. Gauck's position met with much approval in the media and the public.

Sarrazin debate

Gauck expressed himself in the context of a controversial debate about the book Germany gets rid of the former Berlin Finance Senator Thilo Sarrazin . He attested Sarrazin “courage” and commented on his statements: “There he [Sarrazin] points out a problem that has not been adequately solved. The other is his biological derivations. ”He judged Sarrazin:“ He spoke more openly than politics about a problem that exists in society. ”The political class can learn from Sarrazin’s book success that“ their language of political correctness Makes people feel that the real problems should be covered up ”. In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung , he stated, referring to the book, that the problem of integration does not consist in “the fact that there are foreigners or Muslims - but it concerns those who are left behind in this society. That is why it seems necessary, and this is my criticism of Sarrazin, to differentiate more precisely and not want to explain everything with a single biological key. And suddenly the hype turns into a sober debate. ”“ Such debates ”include“ populist exaggeration ”.


Gauck promotes responsible capitalism (speech from November 15, 2012). One shouldn't deprive the economy of its freedom just out of fear. In the financial sector in particular, Gauck continues to see the need for changes. This not only requires new rules - people have to rethink their attitudes. In the current economy, two things have been separated that belong together: "The freedom to do something and the responsibility to take responsibility for it." However, responsibility in particular should not be a business to the detriment of third parties. Gauck said that for a long time he was one of those who, when it came to regulation , believed that less was more. But now he says: “Free entrepreneurship needs limits.” Because he recognized that without limits, freedom and responsibility would not be considered equally everywhere. Acting responsibly would mean for him "to be a friend of borders out of freedom", because the few who take the liberty of not being responsible for anything "destroy the prerequisites of freedom". It is true that boundlessness can create “unheard of heights”. "But for many others, boundlessness does not create a living space, but a desert."

"New Power - New Responsibility"

On January 31, 2014, Gauck opened the 51st Munich Security Conference (MSC) with a keynote address on Germany's role in the world ; it was the first time that a German head of state performed this task. The MSC is considered to be the central place for the transatlantic exchange of views. Gauck formulated a plea for a fundamental realignment of German foreign and security policy, that Germany should become more involved internationally - including with military means. The Federal Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier followed suit . This paradigm shift from a “culture of military restraint” in the Federal Republic up to 1990 to a “culture of the ability to go into war” was prepared for over a year. At the end of 2012, two think tanks , the Science and Politics Foundation (SWP) and the German Marshall Fund (GMF), gathered a group of over 50 politicians, professors, representatives of the Foreign Office and other ministries as well as the Chancellery , as well as two editors from Die Zeit and der FAZ to think about foreign policy. The project was financed by the Foreign Office's planning staff. “New power, new responsibility” was the title of the project report in autumn 2013 ( list of those involved in the project New Power - New Responsibility ). The project manager Constanze Stelzenmüller stated: "We deliberately did not publish this during the election campaign, but rather at the coalition negotiations". The Gauck speech of January 2014 presented the essential elements of the project report to a broader public, which in fact served as a blueprint, in part even word for word core statements from "New Power - New Responsibility" were adopted.

A survey carried out specifically for the "Munich Security Report 2015" (commissioned by the Hamburg Körber Foundation ) showed that German citizens increasingly rejected a "more active role" for German foreign policy in international crises - in 2014 60% (2015: 62%) ) the German citizen plays a “more active role”. Only 34% (2014: 37%) are in favor of greater involvement.

Refugee influx in 2015

In a speech at the 40th Intercultural Week on September 27, 2015, Gauck was deeply impressed by the helpfulness and commitment of the "many thousands of voluntary and full-time helpers" in dealing with the current influx of refugees in Germany on a humanitarian basis. At the same time, he addressed widespread concerns about possible excessive demands in the future: “We want to help. Our heart is wide. But our possibilities are finite. "

In addition to the prescribed order, flexibility and imagination are currently needed, a creative attitude “that does not say why something is impossible, but asks how it becomes possible.” Quick action is required in order to avoid tensions between newcomers and the local population. The gyms, swimming pools and green areas used for other uses would not be considered for the establishment of emergency shelters in the long term. The integration of those entitled to stay must be accelerated, especially in the linguistic area, in working life and in associations.

Under the impression of historical experience, Germany was a country that had to offer refuge from war and persecution. In order to be able to do this while maintaining the internal order, it is also necessary that "states and an association of states like the European Union protect their external borders." Gauck appealed to those admitted to get involved in the German language, with neighbors and new ones Environment, on a land of justice and freedom, human rights and gender equality. He urged fellow citizens: “When we name problems and list difficulties, it should not weaken our compassion - our heart. Rather, it should activate our intellect, our political reasoning [...] So we will remain what we have become: a land of confidence. "

In his speech on the 25th anniversary of German unity on October 3, 2015, Gauck emphasized that the task of internal unity in Germany was being reassigned in view of the large number of refugees, "those in the face of wars, authoritarian regimes and crumbling states to Europe, to Germany be driven. ”This is a challenge that will occupy generations. Compared to 1990, it is about a more complicated growing together with people of different countries of origin, religions, skin colors and cultures. Gauck addressed the different attitudes in individual member states of the European Union towards the influx of refugees and asked for understanding: Even in reunified Germany, the attitude towards refugees was partly due to historical peculiarities that can be attributed to the fact that West Germans had been around for decades can get used to becoming a country of immigration, while East Germans hardly came into contact with immigrants until 1990.

Activities and statements after the Federal Presidency

After the end of his term of office in January 2017, Gauck was invited by Rector Anja Steinbeck to the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf , where he accepted the Heine visiting professorship for 2018 . In the winter (January 31) and summer (April 18, 2018) semester, he gives a lecture on the topic of his own choice, "Thinking about what is one's own and what is foreign". On February 1, he also took part in an in-depth panel discussion, moderated by the Journalist Ulrich Wickert , who before Gauck held the Heine visiting professorship for 2016 with three events on the subject of “Journalism, Power and Responsibility”.

In August 2017, Der Spiegel reported on the costs that Gauck caused as former Federal President. The annual personnel costs for office manager, speakers, secretary and chauffeur alone amount to 385,000 euros. The office manager is classified as a ministerial director in salary group B 6, which otherwise only senior officials are entitled to. As Gauck's office manager in the presidential office, he received at least 1500 euros less per month. The state also grants all other former federal presidents five employees, including a company car and office. At Gauck, however, the cost range is surprising. Gauck received nine offices on the first floor of the Bundestag building with a total of 197 square meters. Gauck's office area was converted for 52,000 euros. The furnishing of Gauck's personal office space cost 35,000 euros.

Occasionally Gauck expresses himself on political and social issues. In an interview in June 2018, he complained to Bild that some migrants were not willing to integrate: “I find it unacceptable if people who have lived in Germany for decades cannot speak in German, do not attend or attend parenting evenings for their children even keep away from classes or sports. ”Gauck opposed“ false consideration ”for fear of being seen as a xenophobia. In 2019 Gauck said that many East Germans lacked the "absolute will to assert themselves". They couldn't have developed a competitive mentality like their compatriots in the west naturally.

On June 15, 2019, in an interview with the news magazine Der Spiegel , Gauck called for an "expanded tolerance towards the right ". Gauck explained that tolerance demands "not everyone who is heavily conservative is seen as a danger to democracy and would prefer to push them out of the democratic game." A distinction must be made “between right-wing - in the sense of conservative - and right-wing extremist or right-wing radical.” A line should be drawn there “when people are discriminated against or disregard the law”. However, one has to argue about where this limit is reached. If the Basic Law is not questioned, but only unpleasant theses are uttered, this is an expression of an open society . In the Frankfurter Rundschau , Katja Thorwart criticized the fact that Gauck had named the former chairman of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group Alfred Dregger , who did not classify the Nazi war of aggression against the Soviet Union as fundamentally wrong, as an example of his formulation "heavily conservative" I used the release of imprisoned German war criminals or marked the term “ liberation ” by the Allies as “one-sided” during World War II. Gauck certainly wants to know "only differentiated right from right-wing radicals ", but is putting himself "on very thin ice" because, as the example of Dregger makes clear - "the boundaries here are fluid". For the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung these statements damage “Joachim Gauck's term of office in retrospect”. With reference to the murder of Walter Lübcke that happened at the same time and the "mockery of dissidents" that preceded such an act, she wrote: " Walter Lübcke would possibly still be alive if this society weren't so terribly tolerant of intolerance."

In a Tagesspiegel interview at the end of May 2021, on the question of the wounds that the corona pandemic would leave behind , Gauck said that isolation in Western societies and the demarcation between different groups was increasing. It is important to strengthen the sense of togetherness again. In order to get away from the polarizing thinking, it is necessary to open up seriously also to the arguments of the other side. In addition to the open debate, to be carried out with civility, without exclusion and contempt, compromise is also needed. Tolerance towards controversial, unpleasant positions must be part of an enlightened democracy. For him, tolerance towards the AfD goes hand in hand with combating their views. Hatred and agitation must be countered with all legal means. However, the criterion for bans is the actual risk to democracy. This also applies to lateral thinkers and opponents of vaccinations: “Yes, the extent of crazy people, the lateral front from the left outside to the right outside and the esoteric, all of this is a deterrent. But not everyone who goes there is a threat to democracy. We cannot exclude everyone who is dissatisfied with the Corona policy. "


Publications (selection)

  • 1991: The Stasi files. The uncanny legacy of the GDR . (rororo 13016). Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1991, ISBN 3-499-13016-5 .
  • 1992: On the dignity of the oppressed . 1992 (article).
  • 1993: loss and exuberance. A chapter about the subject as an inhabitant of the modern age . 1993 (article).
  • 1994: The legacy of the Stasi files . In: German Studies Review 17 . Totalitarian rule - totalitarian inheritance . 1994, p. 187-198 , JSTOR : 40575005 .
  • 1995: “I have a choice!” Remembrance of dictatorship in democracy . In: Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk , Ulrike Poppe & Rainer Eckert (eds.): Between self-assertion and adaptation. Forms of resistance and opposition in the GDR. Ch. Links, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-86153-097-X .
  • 1997: Constitutional Understanding in East Germany . In: Stephan Detjen (Ed.): In the best possible condition ?! 50 years of the Basic Law . Accompanying volume for the traveling exhibition of the Federal Agency for Civic Education and the Federal Bar Association. O. Schmidt, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-504-10003-6 , pp. 213-217 .
  • 1998: With Ehrhart Neubert : The coming to terms with socialism in the GDR . In: The Black Book of Communism - Oppression, Crime and Terror . Piper Verlag (German language edition), Munich 2004, ISBN 3-492-04053-5 .
  • 2002: Mentality and mentality change in post-totalitarian societies. The situation of the Germans after 1945 and 1989 . In: Ibrahim Özkan, Annette Streeck-Fischer, Ulrich Sachsse (eds.): Trauma and Society. Past in the present . 1st edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht ,, Göttingen 2002, ISBN 978-3-525-45893-8 , pp. 12-33 .
  • 2007: Germans' experiences of dictatorship in the 20th century and what we can learn from them . In: Series of publications on the fundamentals, goals and results of the parliamentary work of the CDU parliamentary group in the Saxon state parliament . tape 42 . Dresden 2007.
  • 2009: Winter in Summer - Spring in Fall: Memories . Siedler Verlag, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-88680-935-6 .
  • 2009: The escape of the inmates. Freedom as a risk . In: Setting the course for the future . Konrad Adenauer Foundation , Sankt Augustin / Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-941904-20-0 .
  • 2010: Justice, Reconciliation and Punishment as Social and Political Challenges . In: Michael Bongardt (ed.): Reconciliation, punishment and justice: the heavy legacy of injustice states . Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-7675-7132-7 , p. 17-28 (contexts; 40).
  • 2012: freedom. A plea . Kösel, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-466-37032-0 .
  • 2014: Dare to be more civil society. About representative democracy, citizenship and the need to remember . Federal President Theodor Heuss House Foundation , Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-942302-06-7 .
  • 2019: with Helga Hirsch : Tolerance: simply difficult . Herder, Freiburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-451-38324-3 .

Lectures (selection)

Awards (selection)

State medals

GER Federal Cross of Merit 3 BVK 1Kl.svg
Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany received in 1995
GER Federal Cross of Merit 5 GrVK Stern.svg
Large Cross of Merit with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, received in 2000
EST Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana - 4th Class BAR.png
Order of the Marienland Cross, IV class, received in 2005
GER Federal Cross of Merit 9 Sond des Grosskreuz.svg
Special level of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, created as official insignia in Bellevue Palace when taking office as Federal President
MCO Order of Saint-Charles - Grand Cross BAR.png
Grand Cross of the Order of St. Charles , obtained in 2012
Order of the Supreme Sun (Kingdom of Afghanistan) .gif
Order of the Sun - the highest award of the Afghan state for Germany's commitment in Afghanistan, received in 2012
ITA OMRI 2001 GC-GCord BAR.svg
Grand Cross with Grand Chain of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic , received in 2013
EST Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana - 1st Class BAR.png
Collane of the Order of the Marienland Cross , received in 2013
ISL Icelandic Order of the Falcon - Grand Cross BAR.png
Collane of the Order of the Falcons , obtained in 2013
Order of Vytautas Commanders Grand Cross Ribbon.jpg
Collane of the Order of Vytautas the Great , obtained in 2013 (Decree: 1K-1511)
Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor , received in 2013
St Olavs Orden storkors stripe.svg
Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Olav , received in 2014
CZE Rad Bileho Lva 1 tridy BAR.svg
Collane of the Order of the White Lion , obtained in 2014
PER Order of the Sun of Peru - Grand Cross BAR.png
Collane of the Order of El Sol del Perú , obtained in 2015
Order of the Bath UK ribbon.svg
Grand Cross (honorary) of the Order of the Bath , received in 2015
Order Stara planina ribbon.png
Order of Stara Planina , received in 2016
Grand Crest Ordre de Leopold.png
Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold , received in 2016
Order of the Seraphim - Ribbon bar.svg
Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphines , received in 2016
Ord Neth Lion.GC.jpg
Grand Cross of the Order of the Dutch Lion , received in 2017

Awards and honors

Gauck at the presentation of the Geschwister-Scholl-Prize (2010)
Gauck at the presentation of the Reinhard Mohn Prize (2018)

He received honorary doctorates from the Theological Faculty of the University of Rostock in 1999 , from the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Jena in 2001 , from the Philosophical and Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Augsburg in 2005 , from the National University of Ireland in Galway and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2015 In 2017 from the Paris Sorbonne , the Académie française , the University of Maastricht , the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster and in 2018 from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel .


Web links

Commons : Joachim Gauck  - Collection of Images
Commons : Joachim Gauck  - album with pictures

Individual evidence

  1. Full text of the inaugural speech ( .
  2. Federal President: Gauck waives a second term. June 6, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2016 .
  3. March 18, 2017, midnight; see .
  4. ^ After five years in office: Joachim Gauck resigns as Federal President , Berliner Zeitung , March 17, 2017.
  5. Stefan Karner : Die MGB -Akte Joachim Gauck senior , FAZ from March 12, 2012, p. 7.
  6. Gauck writes in his book Winter im Sommer - Frühling im Herbst : “My father attended the seafaring school in Wustrow and initially completed it with the helmsman's license, and in 1940 with the captain's license A 6: Captain on a long voyage. As a captain, however, he no longer drove during the war. ”(P. 10).
  7. The secret of the uncle. Focus Online , June 28, 2010, accessed March 6, 2012 .
  8. Origin of Joachim Gauck , on: Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  9. Norbert Robers: Joachim Gauck - From pastor to president. The biography , Leipzig 2012, p. 15.
  10. Gauck 2009a , p. 27.
  11. Robers 2000, p. 23.
  12. Gauck 2009a, p. 35.
  13. Gauck 2009a, p. 41.
  14. “First of all, school was canceled for one day. Then the subject of contemporary studies - later civic studies - was temporarily deleted. Teachers, who until then had been particularly ideological, made an intimidated and uptight impression, and some allowed themselves to be carried away with self-critical comments. And older pupils who had been kicked out of school because they had not separated from the Young Congregation as Christians came back and were allowed to catch up on their Abitur ”(Gauck 2009a, p. 47).
  15. ^ Frank: Gauck. A biography. 2013, p. 68.
  16. Gauck 2009a, p. 36.
  17. Gauck 2009a, p. 37.
  18. Eckhard Jesse: A revolution and its consequences: 14 civil rights activists take stock . Ch.links Verlag, 2000, p. 253.
  19. "Freedom is not a matter of course." (PDF; 14.5 MB) SPECTARIS - Association of the High-Tech Industry, November 7, 2011, accessed on March 6, 2012 .
  20. Gauck 2009a, p. 60.
  21. See the entry of Joachim Gauck's matriculation in the Rostock matriculation portal .
  22. Gauck 2009a, p. 104 f.
  23. Robers 2000, p. 37 ff.
  24. Gauck 2009a, p. 117.
  25. Robers 2000, p. 43.
  26. Quoted in Robers 2000, p. 10 f.
  27. Quoted in Robers 2000, p. 12.
  28. Robers 2000, p. 74.
  29. Gauck 2009a, pp. 134-137.
  30. Jana Hensel , Jakob Augstein : Pastor of the bondage. Friday, March 8th, 2012, accessed on January 1st, 2013 .
  31. Mario Frank : Gauck: Eine Biographie , Suhrkamp Verlag, 2013 ISBN 978-3-518-73412-4 , section “Der Kirchentag 1988”.
  32. File shows Gauck's distance to the Stasi. ( Facsimile ( Memento from December 15, 2013 in the Internet Archive )) Die Welt , No. 94, April 23, 1991, accessed on March 6, 2012 .
  33. Quotation from Robers 2000, p. 56. Note: this can be perceived as an internal MfS justification phrase for why the OV was discontinued.
  34. Quoted in Robers 2000, p. 68.
  35. Joachim Gauck: Freedom - Responsibility - Public Sense. We in our state . Speech on June 22, 2010 at the Deutsches Theater Berlin.
  36. Stafan Berg: Stasi. Pack and rabble , in: Der Spiegel 36 (2000) .
  37. quoted from Klaus Blessing / Manfred Manteuffel, Joachim Gauck, The right man ?, edition berolina, Berlin, 2014, 7th edition, p. 172 f.
  38. quoted from Klaus Blessing / Manfred Manteuffel, Joachim Gauck, Derreal Mann ?, edition berolina, Berlin, 2014, 7th edition, p. 53. Facsimile of the judgment p. 50ff - hearing of September 22, 2000 (AZ 3 O 245/00). "The plaintiff (Gauck) has no claim against the defendant (Diestel) to omit the statement that he is a 'beneficiary' within the meaning of the Stasi Documentation Act."
  39. Gauck and Diestel want to settle the legal dispute amicably. Welt Online , March 1, 2001, accessed March 6, 2012 .
  40. ^ Dispute settled. Berliner Kurier, April 5, 2001, accessed on March 6, 2012 .
  41. A slipped plea. Friday May 5, 2000, archived from the original on June 19, 2006 ; accessed on January 1, 2013 .
  42. Hans-Jochen Tschiche: "Gauck is the wrong person" , Friday , February 22, 2012.
  43. Joachim, the engine driver? Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 27, 2012, accessed on March 20, 2012 .
  44. ^ Controversy about Joachim Gauck - In search of the lost friend. Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 28, 2012, accessed on March 20, 2012 .
  45. ^ Former pastor criticizes Joachim Gauck. (No longer available online.) Die Welt, March 7, 2012, archived from the original on November 30, 2016 ; accessed on January 1, 2013 .
  46. ^ The civil rights activist as a denunciator , of February 27, 2011.
  47. ^ The future Federal President: Was Joachim Gauck a civil rights activist? , Der Tagesspiegel , February 25, 2012.
  48. to German: Gauck as "a former East German dissident and pastor who is seen by many as a moral authority." The Times, June 17, 2010.
  49. Quoted in Robers 2000, p. 79 f.
  50. ^ The dissolution of the Ministry for State Security. German Broadcasting Archive, accessed on February 25, 2012 .
  51. Robers 2000, p. 123.
  52. Quoted in Robers 2000, p. 126.
  53. See the law (PDF; 331 kB) and the minutes of the Volkskammer meeting (PDF; 2.1 MB). In place of the People's Chamber Act , the Stasi Records Act passed by the German Bundestag came after reunification . See also description of BArch DA 1/16631 - digitization and online placement of the DA 1 Volkskammer of the GDR, part 10th electoral period ( memento of February 8, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) ( Federal Archives ).
  54. Press release Regional Bishop Dr. von Maltzahn on the nomination of Joachim Gauck , press office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg, February 20, 2012.
  55. With a head start in confidence., February 20, 2012, accessed January 1, 2013 .
  56. Gauck 2009a, p. 252 f.
  57. Gauck 2009a, p. 253.
  58. This short form - hereafter also "Birthler Authority" - became popular because of the cumbersome official title.
  59. Gauck 2009a, p. 270 f.
  60. ARD Tagesschau on June 3, 1993, 20:00 .
  61. Chronology of the BStU for the year 2000 ( Memento from June 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive ).
  62. a b Stasi still manages Stasi files ( memento from June 5, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), WikiLeaks , October 4, 2007.
  63. Benedict Maria Mülder: A figure of light with a shadowy side , Der Tagesspiegel of December 27, 2011.
  64. Joachim Gauck visiting professor at the MUL: Lecture series "1989 - From Subject to Citizen" , press release, accessed on February 25, 2012.
  65. “Against forgetting” - Gauck gives up the chairmanship. Die Welt, March 19, 2012, accessed January 1, 2013 .
  66. People by our side. ( Memento of May 16, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  67. ^ Prague Declaration - Declaration Text. June 3, 2008, accessed January 28, 2010 .
  68. ^ Declaration on Crimes of Communism. (No longer available online.) February 25, 2010, archived from the original on May 21, 2010 ; Retrieved June 3, 2010 .
  69. ^ A Message to the People of the United States of America. Atlantik-Brücke, February 16, 2003, archived from the original on June 13, 2010 ; accessed on January 1, 2013 .
  70. ↑ Committee members of the German National Foundation . Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  71. ^ Activities of the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia. Annual report 2003 , p. 43 (PDF; 313 kB).
  72. DOSB homepage Retrieved on May 1, 2012.
  73. ^ PR of the DOSB of April 25, 2012 ( Memento of May 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  74. ^ Federal President Freestyle: Opposition candidate Gauck splits black and yellow , Spiegel Online, June 5, 2010. Retrieved on February 21, 2012.
  75. ^ Anna Lehmann: Gauck splits the former GDR opposition , from June 28, 2010.
  76. ^ IFM-Archiv eV: Initiative for the election of Joachim Gauck as Federal President on June 17, 2010 (originally on Markus Meckel's website ).
  77. Newsticker . In: Berliner Zeitung , June 26, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  78. Gauck's candidacy divides the coalition. Handelsblatt, June 5, 2010, accessed March 30, 2012 .
  79. Joachim Gauck. Dieter Wunderlich Book Tips & Film Tips, accessed on March 30, 2012 .
  80. ^ Christian Gauck. Accessed December 3, 2019 (German).
  81. When father says “Gesine, get up!” Welt Online, February 25, 2012, accessed on March 12, 2012 .
  82. Hansi Gauck doesn't want to know anything about the divorce. Welt Online, February 22, 2012, accessed June 11, 2012 .
  83. From Baltic Sea Child to Federal President. NDR, January 23, 2020, accessed on July 16, 2020 .
  84. ^ Frank: Gauck. A biography. 2013, p. 259.
  85. Federal President Gauck moves into Wulff's old home. Die Welt, July 23, 2012, accessed June 26, 2013 .
  86. ^ Rostock: 900 guests when Gauck was awarded honorary citizenship. Hamburger Abendblatt , August 8, 2012, accessed on August 8, 2012 .
  87. Merkel: We will look for common candidates. Handelsblatt, February 17, 2012, accessed on March 12, 2012 .
  88. Heribert Prantl : Five-Party Federal President - A miracle called Gauck. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. February 19, 2012, accessed on February 19, 2012 : "Five parties are now wearing the man: CDU, CSU, FDP, SPD, Greens."
  89. ^ Union accepts Gauck as a candidate for president. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , February 19, 2012, accessed on March 12, 2012 .
  90. .
  91. Reactions on the Internet: Gauck's opponents gather on the net. Spiegel Online, February 20, 2012, accessed March 13, 2012 .
  92. Green politicians reserve the right to reject Gauck. , February 21, 2012, archived from the original on February 23, 2012 ; Retrieved March 13, 2012 .
  93. a b c Controversial Statements about Occupy and Sarrazin - What Gauck Really Said. Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 20, 2012, accessed on March 9, 2012 .
  94. The internet fairy tale of the evil Joachim Gauck. Welt Online, February 21, 2012, accessed March 13, 2012 .
  95. Distorted quotations: Gauck and the silent post on the net. Spiegel Online, February 21, 2012, accessed March 13, 2012 .
  96. ^ German-Iranian becomes Gauck's spokesperson , RP Online, July 6, 2012.
  97. Federal President: Gauck will not take up his second term at Spiegel Online, June 6, 2016 (accessed on June 6, 2016).
  98. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Emotional farewell for Joachim Gauck .
  99. ^ Speech on the National Liberation Day of the Netherlands. The Federal President, May 5, 2012, accessed on June 5, 2012 .
  100. Gauck praises the Germans' awareness of history. Welt Online, May 5, 2012, accessed June 4, 2012 .
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