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Johannes Rau

Johannes Rau (born January 16, 1931) is the President of Germany since July 1, 1999.

Table of contents
1 Education and Work
2 Political Biography
3 Motto and Maxim
4 Prizes and Medals
5 Private Life
6 See also
7 External links

Education and Work

He was born in Wuppertal-Barmen as the third of five children. His family was strongly Protestant. As schoolboy Rau was active in the Confessing Church, a circle of the German Protestant Church actively resisting national socialism.

Rau left school in 1949 and worked as journalist and publisher, especially with the Protestant Youth Publishing House.

Political Biography

From 1952 to 1957 (disbanding of the Party) Rau was member of the All-German People's Party, a party known for proposing German re-union. Together with Gustav Heinemann, his political mentor, in 1958 Rau joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), where he was active in the Wuppertal chapter. He served as deputy chairman of the SPD party of Wuppertal, and was elected later on to the City Council (1964-1978), where he served as chairman of the SPD Group (1964-1967) and later as Mayor (1969-1970).

In 1958 Rau was elected for the first time as member of the Landtag (state parliament) of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). In 1967 he beamce chairman of the SPD Faction in the Landtag, and in 1970 Minister of Science and Education in the cabinet of Minister President Heinz Kühn. He soon gained a reputation as a reformer. As part of the mass-education campaign of the 1970s, he founded five universities at five different sites in North Rhine-Westphalia and initated Germany's first Distance Learning University ("open university") at Hagen.

In 1977 Rau became Chairman of the North Rhine-Westphalia SPD, in 1978 Minister President of the state. Rau stayed Minister President until 1998, with four successful elections for the SPD, which became strongest party in the Landtag each time and gained an absolute majority three times, in 1980, 1985, 1990 and finally 1995. From 1995 onwards, Rau lead a SPD-Greens coalition in NRW.

In 1986 Rau tried to become chancellor of Germany for the SPD, but couldn't win the elections against Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats (CDU). In 1994 Rau tried to become Federal President the first time but lost to Roman Herzog.

In 1998 Rau stepped down from his positions as SPD Chairman and Minister President to become finally elected by the Federal Assembly of Germany as Federal President on May 23, 1999, as successor of Roman Herzog (CDU).

Motto and Maxim

The maxim of Johannes Rau is "to reconcile, not divide", especially in regard to reconciliation with the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

As his personal motto he adopted the Confessing Church dictum "teneo, quia teneor" (I hold because I am held).

Prizes and Medals

Rau has been given nine honorary doctorates.

Private Life

Johannes Rau is known as a practising Christian (and sometimes titled "Bruder Johannes" to ridicule his intense Christian position). He has held lay positions in the Protestant Church, and was member of the Synod of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland.

He is married to Christina, born Delius (*1956), a political scientist, since 9 August 1982. Christina Rau is a granddaughter of her husband's mentor, Gustav Heinemann, former President of Germany. The couple have three children: Anna Christina, born 1983, Philip Immanuel, born 1985 and Laura Helene, born 1986.

Today Rau lives with his family in the federal capital Berlin, but they have kept a house in Wuppertal.

See also

External links

Preceded by:
Roman Herzog
Presidents of Germany