New Bundesprasident Joachim Gauck

Why did she fight tooth & nail to keep him out?

Late night, the German media reported the proposal of Joachim Gauck as the new German President by the CDU/FDP, Greens and SPD. The imputation of the coverage is that this is a cross-Party agreement about a largely decorative role. But The Slog has learned that it was anything but.

A more recent German source – codename Zeitung – has kindly filled me in. And in addition, the Bankfurt Maulwurf had a few comments to add.

Chancellor Angela Merkel did not want Gauck at any price – this despite the fact that opinion polls show he is a popular choice. Frau Merkel has a track record of trying to keep Glauck out of office. In 2010, Gauck had been the Opposition’s candidate: but the now disgraced Christian Wulff took three ballots back then (and a lot of Merkelite arm-twisting) to get the Presidency from which he was forced to resign last week.

The weekend meetings to choose a successor to Wulff were fraught to say the least. Merkel proposed a number of coalition loyalists. Anybody but Gauck, it seems. Merkel’s resistance to Gauck was so pronounced, in the end it took threats by the Free Democrats to withdraw from Merkel’s Coalation before she agreed – under extreme duress.

The FPD is a party in a similar position to the UK’s LibDems: if it forced a General Election, it would be almost entirely wiped out. Yet its leadership still went right to the wire to get their man.

What is it that worries Merkel so much about Herr Gauck? And why are the Opposition Parties so determined that he shall have the Presidency?

Like so many things in the Chancellor’s life ‘history’, despite the air-brushing employed by those around her, former Osti Merkel appears to have been a very active supporter of Erich Hoeneker’s Communist DDR….as The Slog reported some weeks ago.

The problem for Geli is that the 72-year old Gauck was a leading (and very influential) dissident pastor in the DDR. Angela Merkel’s father the late Horst Kasner was also a DDR pastor….however, he was anything but dissident. He chose to join the DDR in the 1950s (although living at the time in the West). Several former Ostis have openly accused him of being a Stasi agent.

Here’s the additional tricky bit for the German Chancellor: post-unification, Joachim Gauck was put in charge of investigating the Stasi archives during the 1990s. There is probably no-one better placed – both pre and post unification – to know about Merkel’s activities under the Communist regime. He would certainly, through his role in the protestant church, have known all about Pastor Kasner and his daughter Angela. And what he didn’t know from that would anyway have been available to him as the man in charge of the Stasi archives.

Merkel has always maintained that her role in the DDR’s Youth Movement was a minor one involving the organisation of social engagements. But people who were there say the good Frau Doktor is being modest: she was actually the Movement’s head of Propaganda…..and a hardline Stalinist disciplinarian.


What makes the story particularly interesting is that the other Parties were as keen to have Joachim Gauck as the Chancellor was desperate not to. A point I put to the Bankfurt Maulwurf this morning – in passing.

“There is of course a lot of rubbish printed about the Chancellor’s past,” he conceded, “but there is no doubt that Mrs Merkel is sensitive about the subject of her years in the DDR. There are some journalists and, when they have questioned her about it, afterwards they suddenly stop being granted any more interviews. I think Joachim Gauck probably represents another such case. She prefers Presidents in her pocket, not the other way round. I know that one or two mavericks in the FPD think she is out of control. So it could well be that, unofficially, Gauck will fulfil that role.

As it happens, I was giving the Maulwurf a hard time about his denial of the Schaubling default plan story….which now turns out to be true. But more on that anon.

To fully understand this piece, you really need to look at….

Related: Will the real Angela Merkel ever stand up?


  1. @Gemz
    I don’t know much about Ms Merkel or her father apart from what I’ve read on here but it all looks a bit like the plot of a spy novel. This scenario would have the late Mr Merkel as a CIA agent and his daughter positioned with the right credentials to do well in DDR, the helpful twist coming with the fall of the Berlin wall. Wouldn’t be surprised if Sarkosy and Cameron were too. Isn’t that how empire’s work, manipulating the leadership of their client states to ensure the voters think they are getting what they want?


  2. This is increasingly fascinating John. The more you dig up on our dear Merkel, the more it seems she has a Murky DDR past that she wants to keep hidden. Some of her actions in the EZ crises reveal a woman who’s happy to lie and to apply fascist policies.

    Some of her actions can be explained away by her having been brought up in the DDR and she doesn’t understand Western democracy. Others reveal her true character.

    As I said a week or two back, it looks to me that the German CDU is either not a real conservative party or it’s been fooled by her. Which is it?


  3. Here’s a clue: It seems this protection of unwitting party leaders by helpful spies can even take place inside parliament, according to the Federal Administrative Court judges. Even these representatives of the German people, the court’s ruling suggests, require surveillance just in case they don’t know what they’re doing.


  4. The Virgin Mary’s father’s name, as is believed. I called one of my son’s by that name – I wanted a little Joey – BUT when the midwife brought him into the ward and called out for YAKIM’s mother, in the maternity home where I had given birth, I decided against the name, much to my son’s relief. I still like the name, pronounced as I would have it pronounced.


  5. Hey John, congrats for having your tweet quoted in today’s DT’s debt crisis live. :)


    09.40 Independent blogger John Ward tweets that the the “intention of most people of influence” is for Greece to default and there will be enough “poison pills” in any debt deal today to “kill an elephant”.

    Opinion “The EU is, unbelievably…about to throw a staggering 130bn of our tax euros at a horse killed weeks ago by the very austerity programme it and the IMF demanded.


  6. No doubt Faustiesblog and I aren’t the only ones to have made this point however do you consider this as the ‘kiss of death’ or does it mean you’ve really ‘arrived’

    Whatever, I enjoy what you write, agree with a lot of it, disagree with some, (but even that makes you think.)

    You efforts are appreciated sir!


  7. @SITC
    sure, but in that case, what is the problem with this Soviet angle? If that was the case Merkel would have gotten nowhere near the Bundestag, let alone the Chancellorship: that it has happened raises questions.


  8. @Phil E

    but that does not answer the question: if Merkel had nasty Soviet style skeletons in her cupboard – how did they get past GSG9, MI6 and the CIA?


  9. @BT
    as mentioned above: how is it that when left wing politicians are thoroughly vetted against this sort of thing, that Merkel got as far as the Bundestag. This should be far from murky for the various intelligence agencies involved.

    It doesn’t stack up: either it is a ruse, or the US/UK/Russian (??!) axis of powers that control Berlin and the German media (etc) want something from her?

    If John is right, it opens more questions about US (etc) interference in German politics than it does about Frau Merkel herself.


  10. Merkel must not have any skeletons in the cupboard or they would have surfaced by now surely?
    Do they think that they can infuence Merkel by using Joachim Gauck’s knowledge of her past as a lever?
    Surely as Gemz has said, the various agencies would know all about her past, how could Gauck know something they don’t?
    Think must be a more simple explanation personally.


  11. SITC
    Slog scoops Reuters, and gets Daily Telegraph plug.
    Am I joining the MSM?
    Quick…stop me before I blog again…..


  12. Gemz
    The US is committed to Merkel.The US has bet the farm on Merkel.
    Now listen up:
    I am NOT saying Angela is a KGB agent….I am saying that she is 100% for Angela Merkel and her glorification.


  13. @Gemz:
    …how is it that when left wing politicians are thoroughly vetted against this sort of thing, that Merkel got as far as the Bundestag.

    I dunno. She joined the CDU didn’t she? That’s supposed to be a conservative party isn’t it? Or is it another Left party? ;-)

    Whatever, much of the stuff John’s dug up is provable, like her support for Erich Hoeneker’s Communist DDR and her father’s chosen allegiance.

    She’s apparently had her job in the DDR airbrushed and minimised.
    I imagine it’s not very easy to get hold of material evidence of such things and also how committed she was to that regime. This is where Gauck may come in, because of his job after the DDR collapsed to check out the Stasi files. He may have dirt on her and she may know it.

    Whatever, some of her actions on the Greek crises definitely tell me that she is either unaware of the supreme importance and protocols of western democracy or she knows them very well but chooses to steamroller over them. Take your pick.

    FYI: Here’s some details about a past PM posted on The Slog some while back:

    Ugly Rumours
    While researching Blair’s early Parliamentary career,
    The Slog (or Not Born Yesterday as it then was)
    received the following email content:

    ‘In the autumn of 1983, a young well-dressed man
    presented himself to Bow St Magistrates’ Court on a
    morals charge. He was given a conditional discharge and
    bound over to keep the peace. The young man gave his
    name as Charles Lynton. He is now among the highest in
    the land.’

    Blair’s middle names are Charles and Lynton. I have
    asked for the records of the period (the Court no longer
    exists) but failed to trace any mention there of the
    ‘case’ – if indeed it ever existed. Although I found the
    general attitude of information suppliers to be
    obstructive, there wasn’t any strong feeling of hiding
    stuff; frankly, I’d be amazed anyway if something
    incriminating about Tony Blair hadn’t been removed by
    now. Another source wrote to us as follows:
    ‘He was caught importuning in a Westminster toilet. It
    was all covered up.’
    Two things are, however, relevant. Gossip did abound
    about Blair’s sexuality during his time in the rock band
    Ugly Rumours at Oxford. And while nobody has ever
    stood them up, it is widely accepted that Derry Irvine
    (Blair’s boss in Chambers) regularly referred to him as
    “the star closest to Uranus”.
    Would an indiscretion relating to bisexuality have
    worried Blair enough to do anything to cover it up?
    Perhaps it would in 1983….but probably not by 2006. A
    great many people have teen-and-twenties doubts about
    the side for which they bat. Thankfully, in the
    Twenty-first century such things are rarely if ever a
    matter for blackmail.

    You can see that the history and peccadillos of someone in high places is not always easy to expose and the Establishment become involved in airbrushing history.


  14. It’s all conjecture, at the end of the day we don’t know what we don’t know. But in principle having knowledge of a persons skeletons is a very good reason for wanting someone in power. You hit the nail when you used the word leverage. Those agencies will know plenty we don’t, does not mean they care about her past, or even mean they will use that info. As for gauck well he might know plenty. I would bet that since taking power there is plenty that Cameron knows about Blair, he keeps his mouth shut though.


  15. Merkel’s murky past would come as no surprise to me. The incompetence of the British and American “intelligence” services are probably as misinformed as the British Foreign Office which gave a knighthood to Cseaucesu and a CBE to Quisling. Given the fascist background of some of the founders of the European Union (see my youtube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nf5KeC4dAs
    it would not be surprising if the communists had not an equal interest in the democratic nation destroying totalitarian honeypot which is today’s EU and who better to have in place than the Chancellor of Germany?


  16. Merkel is just a dozy conformist careerist. When the DDR was commie she was a conforming commie; since the Bunderepublik is extreme in its moderation, she’s now a card carrying middle of the road moderate. The Duchess of Plaza Toro.

    GSG9 is a German Army unit that is broadly equivalent to the SAS in the UK or Delta Force in the USA. It isn’t an intelligence agency.


  17. All is not as it seems! Some bits and pieces from DMN contributors in their comments to the story there –

    “Gauck is no more an “East German civil rights” activist than Merkel was. Civil rights activists were held in the Stasi prisons instead of being one of the privileged few who were constantly traveling to the West.”

    “To designate Gauck as an East German civil rights activist is not only ridiculous, it is even falsifying history.”

    Here, extracts from a longer article:

    “‘IM Larve’: Are there stains on Gauck’s white smock?

    Here we want to pick up on the TERPE-PAPER, which sheds further light on Joachim Gauck and which has been almost completely blended out in the current debate. Should the allegations be correct, Gauck would be unacceptable as President and his assigned laurels also need to once again be put back the test-stand. (…)

    “Both the former Minister of Home Affairs of the GDR, Peter-Michael Diestel and also Lafontaine said to Die Zeit that Gauck had been a Stasi beneficiary.” (…)

    “Here are some of the things listed, that are at least worth noting. So, for example:

    He at that time praised the Stasi and was rewarded with a VW bus for his cooperation, which was unprocurable to normal GDR citizens.

    Naturally, he made it into the West travel squad and his close ties to the East German system is shown impressively in the Stasi-Terpe paper.

    Thereby Gauck already had to worry a bit on 21.04.2000, because on that day the explosive TERPE PAPER was published. The “Welt” had already published the paper on 23 April 1991. But Western readers didn’t grasp the core issue. They did not have intimate knowledge of the GDR. [1]” (…)

    “The meeting with the Stasi was held in Gauck’s apartment, it did not take place in a office of the church.

    Pastor Gauck told Captain Terpe that he was unwilling to “conduct talks with not competent employees of the Stasi”, from the start he would proscribe “speaking with a little lieutenant from the Stasi.” – That is the language of a system conformer, not that of a resistance fighter. With “little people” one cannot discuss “big things”. He wanted to negotiate directly with decision makers of the Stasi and revealed that he had contacts with many Stasi members. [1]” (…)

    “It is astonishing that the TERPE PAPER is untraceable, as also is the article about it from the “Welt” dated 23 April 1991. Unfortunately archive.org first began cataloguing in 1996, and so there is nothing to find there. Perhaps an enterprising reader here could remedy this.” (…)

    A thought that has occurred to me – funny coincidence department or what? In his “Bernard Sampson” series of books (Hook, Line & Sinker – Game, Set & Match – Winter – Faíth, Hope & Charity), the author Len Deighton has Bernards wife, Fiona, defecting to the GDR and working for the Stasi. Her responsibility in the Stasi is keeping an eye on the activities of the church! Did Len know something that we don’t – particularly when now both the German President and Chancellor come from church-type backgrounds?

    As for the real reason for the dismissal of Wulff, try this one:

    “He had already said a few months ago that he would not interfere in politics, i.e. that he will never make use of his veto. That, in my eyes, is the main reason for the choice of him. The ESM must get through, and with Wulff that would not have happened.”

    It all sort of makes you wonder who the puppet-master(s) might be!


  18. I don’t think the US are all that fussy, Hussein, Mubarak & countless others including the alleged use of Al Qaida in Libya – Realpolitik. ” Someone we can do business with “, is all that matters. Political labels, the war on terror & drugs just handy tools for creating fear & monsters, all the better to control the little people.


  19. I would agree with on the whole but, the issue I find stange is, for me, I keep my enemies close to me, my friends are free to roam, if you take my point.
    If Gauck has some leverage wouldn’t Merkel want to appease him not try ostracise him? It’s the wrong was round for me.


  20. @Gemz: The point, which is purely a flight of fancy is that “M” would have been positioned to create such a stalinist history by whatever puppetmasters were pulling her strings from her student days, to advance her position in DDR. When the wall came down as JW has demonstrated she rapidly adapted to the new situation and made herself an even more valuable asset.


  21. @Viking Jack: All newspapers, everywhere have microfilmed their archives since at least 1945. Most will have deposited duplicates in the event of catastrophe. I speak from personal experience.


  22. Thanks Rodney for an excellent video presentation.
    Highly recommended viewing.

    Many details and names you cite are new to me but FWIW, back in 1995 during a political debate I wrote this: “Fascism is again on the rise in Europe, only this time round they won’t be wearing military fatigues and goosestepping, it’ll be Armani suits and PR skills.” I see nothing in more recent years to change my mind. Quite the opposite in fact.


  23. @Phil

    you don’t get my point: how is it that when Bundestag members are thoroughly vetted – that is to say, their sock drawers are checked for remains of DNA left by the previous occupant – that someone with a Stalinist background would be allowed to hold such a position?

    It does not add up. Either the US wanted this sort of person, or the US wanted Merkel because she was that sort of person. Perhaps it is something that could be let out of the bag at a later date if things went wrong and she needed dumping quickly? (A little like the DSK moments … they knew what he was like … simples).


  24. Some interesting stuff here: «(…) Angela Merkel relies on the advice of Jeffrey Gedmin, specially dispatched to Berlin to assist her by the Bush clan. This lobbyist first worked at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) [2] under Richard Perle and Mrs. Dick Cheney. He enthusiastically encouraged the creation of a Euro with Dollar parity exchange rate. Within the AEI, he led the New Atlantic Initiative (NAI), which brought together all the America-friendly generals and politicians in Europe. (…)

    «As of 1 January 2007, Angela Merkel is the president of the European Union. She has never made any secret of her intention to force France and the Netherlands to accept the equivalent of the Constitutional Treaty project that they both rejected in referendums, nor of her intention to relaunch the proposed merger of the North American Free Trade Area and the European Free Trade Area, thereby creating a “great transatlantic market” to use the words once pronounced by Sir Leon Brittan.»


  25. @JW

    I agree with you. That was not the drift of my argument, my point was more that the US would have known about her background (see above). Believe me, there are plenty of women who desperately want to achieve things – and hit that glass ceiling. What most of them will have is the sort of power lust that is wholly (un)acceptable in men (your 100% glorification of Merkel – just look at Blair, Cameron, to mention a few … Sarkozy? DSK?) I think it is as valid here to ask which politicians are NOT out for themselves! (Perhaps this guy? http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2012/02/labour_leader_job_cohen_stands_1.php)

    It would seem that men like that are as rare as women who have a power lust? I do speak as one who looks at this from the other side …

    I did not suggest that Merkel was a KGB agent – in any case, the CIA would have known about that these days; they certainly knew the things you are speaking about. KGB agents have to be squeaky clean – which means they all come from Christchurch College or somesuch and have impeccable backgrounds.


    Her qualities of steam rollering would be the German equivalent of a Thatcher handbagging … or the sharp end of one of my poison-tipped pencils? It is funny how a man doing that is seen as normal.

    The CDU: – anyone getting near the top is scrutinized (hence the allusion to sock drawers and the dust therein).

    This CL gentleman, was the judge sitting a certain QC called Booth ;-)

    I imagine it’s not very easy to get hold of material evidence of such things and also how committed she was to that regime.” I expect it is very hard indeed, unless you are a high-up member of the CIA/MI6/GSG9 and then only in the right circles … these guys read our emails, note our comments – and know how to mash metrics in a way that would frighten even a hardened marketer like JW. (They would know from the way I write, and a bundle of other parameters that I am harmless, whilst others less forthright would be dangerous given the opportunity. These people do not mess around; they shoot to kill).

    You can see that the history and peccadillos of someone in high places is not always easy to expose and the Establishment become involved in airbrushing history.” well, of course this can all be hushed up by the powerful, until such times as they are no longer necessary, or would like to take a step in the wrong direction (DSK??)(JFK???)


  26. Never mind the Americans and others in the EU twisting Frau Merkels arm, as a dedicated former member of the communist party, there is one other leader who shares a similar background, that nice Mr Putin…

    As you can be sure, that the KGB would have taken a close interest in the activities of the STASI, which if there are any skelton’s to rattle in Fuhrerines cupboards, would be a better bet from my point of view.

    Especially as since going green for their energy supplies, the Germans are now totally dependent on the Russians to keep the lights on….


  27. @Sebastian
    the GSG9 – to give it its proper name, the Grenzschutzgruppe Neun – were a branch of the army detailed to border control, in this case, the “Inner border” BRD/DDR. They were the dirty squad, and as such were very dirty. Whilst they were not an intelligence agency as such, like the SAS, they had a lot of information that was decidedly sensitive. Their actions are not those usually broadcast at tea time, or at any time. So my suppositions are as valid as any you might make in assuming they are similar to the SAS.

    They were also implicated in funding the RAF – Rote Armee Faction (Baader Meinhof gang) in the late 80s. VJ should have the dirt on that one.


  28. @Stevie

    you are right about the US – Realpolitik indeed. But when said nice guys want to take a walk on the wild side, then there will be a tap on the shoulder, or a gentle nudge. Perhaps a stray bullet from some madman?

    If they behave, like Mubarak, they retire to a comfortable island in the Med (or spend a few years in the most comfortable cell available before the other more pleasant eventuality).


  29. @Gemz: Sorry for not making this clearer, in this scenario its likely that CIA has either infiltrated the security apparatus or has close links with them and they would be able to smooth the path of their girl, so getting into the Bundestag wouldn’t be a problem. As JW points out below, the US and Merkel are right in it together.


  30. @Gemz… “””””but that does not answer the question: if Merkel had nasty Soviet style skeletons in her cupboard – how did they get past GSG9, MI6 and the CIA?””””””

    Gemz, it wouldn’t be the first occasion when the intelligence agencies knew all about the misdeeds of a major post-holder. It’s a great opportunity for them to hold the threat of “disclosure” over their target to ensure his/her compliance.
    eg.. Kurt Waldheim…. Sec Gen of the United Nations. Jan 1972-Dec 1981.


  31. VJ
    If there are doubts about Glauk’s credentials as an anti-DDR activist, then maybe even more of a reason for Merkel to be worried about what he knows: dirt on her and her Dad would be even more credible coming from a Stasi.
    But the ESM point hadn’t occurred me me: I wonder what Glauk’s use of veto might be like?


  32. Stuart
    As you probably know, Putin was stationed in the DDR for much of his KGB career. I’m told he “speaks German without a trace of an accent”.



  34. @Gemz. As so often you are simply wrong. GSG9 was set up in 1973, in the aftermath of the Munich Olympics murders to give Germany a paramilitary counter-terror capability, which hitherto they simply did not possess. They were originally trained by the SAS. Your “implicated” is simply left-wing conspiracy bollocks. GSG-9 had a guy killed by the Red Army Faction during an arrest operation, so ask yourself if a supposed right-wing paramilitary organisation would really be ladling cash out to the same people. Crank German leftists have at various times accused them of all sorts of misdeeds.

    Your idea that they are alongside ‘MI6’ (properly known as SIS) and the CIA and busily vetting lefty Germans is just wrong. The German equivalent is the Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschutz (BfV), or Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. GSG-9 simply isn’t an intelligence operation in the sense that you believe.


  35. @Phil E

    “CIA has either infiltrated the security apparatus or has close links with them and they would be able to smooth the path of their girl, so getting into the Bundestag wouldn’t be a problem” – – – which brings me to my point: the CIA know about this, and will use it if necessary. They could have done it with anyone, but this was their choice.


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  39. Your article provides details of Merkel’s Communist past in East Germany and her seemingly hostile behavior towards Joachim Gauck, deducing that Merkel is scared of her Red past being exposed by Joachim Gauck, if he should become President. Your analysis is faulty for the following reasons:

    (i) Joachim Gauck doesn’t have to be President of Germany to reveal Merkel’s Red past (so why hasn’t he?); and

    (ii) because your article has entirely overlooked KGB defector Major
    Anatoliy Golitsyn’s predictions that Communist-manufactured dissident groups would arise not only in the USSR but also in the East Bloc nations, you fail to comprehend that Joachim Gauck was a part of a fake dissident group in East Germany called the New Forum. In fact, Joachim Gauck co-founded the group!

    Now remember that this is the same Joachim Gauck who on October 2, 1990, the day before the dissolution of the GDR, the People’s Chamber elected him Special Representative for the Stasi Archives. Now, since West Germany wasn’t going to announce to its public that the collapse of the GDR was a part of the Communists’ ‘Long-Range Deception Strategy’, as revealed by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn, West Germany took its cue from the GDR and assigned Gauck as Federal Commissioner of the Stasi Archives, 1990-2000; with the GDR imprimatur attached to Gauck to oversee the Stasi Archives, West Germany was assured that Gauck could be trusted not to open his mouth about what the ‘collapse’ of the GDR was really all about.

    Conclusion: Any bad feelings between Merkel and Gauck are purely theater.


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