Hans Modrow, last communist president of extinct East Germany, dies

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Hans Modrow, East Germany's reformist communist prime minister after the fall of the Berlin Wall, died on Saturday at the age of 95, the Die Linke party announced.

Modrow, it's European history. As a teenager he participated in World War II. He was imprisoned in the USSR and later joined the Socialist Unity Party of the GDR, where he became the last president of East Germany. After the fall of the wall he was a deputy in the reunification Bundestag and later he was in the European Parliament.

Born on January 27, 1928 in Jasenitz, in Pomerania (present-day Poland), Modrow died on the night of Friday to Saturday, a spokesman for Germany's radical left-wing Die Linke party told AFP.

Never breaking with communist ideology, Modrow will go down in the history of the former GDR as a reforming figure, inspired by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Hans Modrow

Arne Dedert/LaPresse

Incorporated into the Volksturm, civil militias in charge of defending the Third Reich at the end of World War II, Mr. Modrow had been sent at the end of the conflict in captivity in the USSR until 1949.

He then adhered to communist ideology and returned after his release to the GDR, where he gradually climbed the rungs of the East German political apparatus.

A member since the 1960s of the central committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), the main authoritative party in the GDR, he became a reformist there in the 1980s.

He was even nicknamed in the 80s the "German Gorbachev" for his closeness to the Soviet leader who then defended Perestroika.


Hans Modrow

Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Modrow arrives at the head of a transitional East German government on November 13, 1989, four days after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Minister-President of the German Democratic Republic, he strove to manage in this position the first steps towards the German unification of a disintegrating GDR. Mr. Modrow is trying in particular to open a dialogue with the democratic opposition in order to preserve the GDR.


Hans Modrow with Chancellor Helmut Kohl


In February 1990, he brought representatives of new opposition groups into the government as ministers without portfolio.

After the elections of March 18, 1990, the first organized free vote in the GDR, gave way to Lothar de Maizière, a member of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) of the GDR.

Mr. Modrow was sentenced in 1994 to ten months' suspended prison sentence for perjury before a commission of inquiry into abuse of power in the former GDR.

Between 1999 and 2004 he was a member of the European Parliament for the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), a formation that succeeded the SED.

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