Gregor Gysi

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Gregor Gysi
2018-06-09 Bundesparteitag Die Linke 2018 in Leipzig by Sandro Halank-120.jpg
President of the Party of the European Left
Assumed office
17 December 2016
Preceded by Pierre Laurent
Leader of The Left in the
In office
18 October 2005 12 October 2015
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Sahra Wagenknecht
Dietmar Bartsch
Deputy Governing Mayor of Berlin
In office
17 January 2002 29 August 2002
Mayor Klaus Wowereit
Preceded byKlaus Böger
Succeeded by Harald Wolf
Senator for Labour, Economics and Women of Berlin
Mayor Klaus Wowereit
Preceded byJuliane von Friesen
Succeeded by Harald Wolf
Leader of the Party of Democratic Socialism in the Bundestag
In office
3 October 1990 2 October 2000
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Lothar Bisky
Leader of the Party of Democratic Socialism
In office
18 December 1989 31 January 1993
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Lothar Bisky
Leader of Socialist Unity Party of Germany
In office
9 December 1989 17 December 1989
Preceded by Egon Krenz
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the Bundestag
for Berlin Treptow – Köpenick
Assumed office
18 September 2005
Preceded bySiegfried Scheffler
Member of the Berlin House of Representatives
In office
21 October 2001 18 September 2005
Member of the Bundestag
In office
3 October 1990 1 February 2002
Member of the Volkskammer
In office
18 March 1990 3 October 1990
Personal details
Born (1948-01-16) 16 January 1948 (age 71)
East Berlin, Soviet Zone of Germany
Political party Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Party of Democratic Socialism
The Left
Alma mater Humboldt University of Berlin

Gregor Gysi (German pronunciation: [ˈgʁeːgoɐ ˈɡiːzi] ; born 16 January 1948) is a German attorney and key politician of the political party The Left (Die Linke). [1]

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

The Left (Germany) political party in Germany

The Left, also commonly referred to as the Left Party, is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. It is considered to be left-wing populist by some researchers. The party was founded in 2007 as the result of the merger of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (WASG). Through the PDS, the party is the direct descendant of the ruling party of the former East Germany (GDR), the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).


He belonged to the SED's reformist camp at the time of the pro-democracy transition inspired by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He has strongly denied allegations that he used to help the Stasi – the East German secret police. He was the last leader of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and led the effort that transformed it into the post-Communist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), forerunner of The Left.

Mikhail Gorbachev 20th-century General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian and formerly Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of its governing Communist Party from 1985 until 1991. He was the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, he initially adhered to Marxism-Leninism although by the early 1990s had moved toward social democracy.

Stasi East German Ministry for State Security

The Ministry for State Security or State Security Service, commonly known as the Stasi, was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic. It has been described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies ever to have existed. The Stasi was headquartered in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. The Stasi motto was Schild und Schwert der Partei, referring to the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany and also echoing a theme of the KGB, the Soviet counterpart and close partner, with respect to its own ruling party, the CPSU. Erich Mielke was the Stasi's longest-serving chief, in power for thirty-two of the GDR's forty years of existence.

Party of Democratic Socialism (Germany) political party

The Party of Democratic Socialism was a democratic socialist political party in Germany active between 1989 and 2007. It was the legal successor to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which ruled the German Democratic Republic as a one-party state until 1990. From 1990 through to 2005, the PDS had been seen as the left-wing "party of the East". While it achieved minimal support in western Germany, it regularly won 15% to 25% of the vote in the eastern new states of Germany, entering coalition governments in the federal states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Berlin.

Family background

Gysi was born in East Berlin, Soviet Zone of Germany. His father, Klaus Gysi, was a high-ranking official in East Germany, and was Minister of Culture from 1966-73. His mother, Irene, was the sister of political activist Gottfried Lessing, who was married to British writer and Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing, during his exile in Southern Rhodesia. The surname "Gysi" is of Swiss-German origin. [2] He is of partial Jewish ancestry; his paternal grandmother was Jewish, as was one of his maternal great-grandfathers. [2] [3] One of his maternal great-grandmothers was Russian. [2] His sister, Gabriele, is an actress, who escaped from East Germany in 1985. Today, she is chief dramaturge at the Volksbühne in Berlin.

East Berlin Soviet sector of Berlin between 1949 and 1990

East Berlin was the capital city of the German Democratic Republic from 1949 to 1990. Formally, it was the Soviet sector of Berlin, established in 1945. The American, British, and French sectors were known as West Berlin. From 13 August 1961 until 9 November 1989, East Berlin was separated from West Berlin by the Berlin Wall. The Western Allied powers did not recognise East Berlin as the GDR's capital, nor the GDR's authority to govern East Berlin. On 3 October 1990, the day Germany was officially reunified, East and West Berlin formally reunited as the city of Berlin.

Klaus Gysi German Resistance fighter against the Nazis, East German politician, East German Minister of Culture

Klaus Gysi was a journalist and publisher and a member of the French Resistance against the Nazis. After World War II, he became a politician in the German Democratic Republic, serving in the government as Minister of Culture from 1966 to 1973, and from 1979 to 1988, as the State Secretary for Church Affairs. He was a member of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and after German Reunification, the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). His son is the German politician Gregor Gysi.

Gottfried Anton Nicolai Lessing was a German lawyer, political activist, and diplomat.



Gysi's political career started in the then-ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) of East Germany, to which he was admitted in 1967. In 1971 he became a licensed attorney, and during the 1970s and 1980s defended several prominent dissidents, including Rudolf Bahro, Robert Havemann, Ulrike Poppe, and Bärbel Bohley.

Socialist Unity Party of Germany Marxist-Leninist political party and ruling state party of the GDR

The Socialist Unity Party of Germany, established in April 1946, was the governing Marxist–Leninist political party of the German Democratic Republic from the country's foundation in October 1949 until its dissolution after the Peaceful Revolution in 1989.

Dissident person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution

A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. In a religious context, the word has been used since 18th century, and in the political sense since 1940, coinciding with the rise of totalitarian systems, especially the Soviet Union.

Rudolf Bahro German politician and writer

Rudolf Bahro was a dissident from East Germany who, since his death, has been recognised as a philosopher, political figure and author. Bahro was a leader of the West German party The Greens, but became disenchanted with its political organization, left the party and explored spiritual approaches to sustainability.

In addition to his legal work, Gysi emerged as one of East Germany's leading Gorbachev-inspired political reformists within the SED, especially towards the end of the 1980s. In 1989, he and a group of lawyers presented a counter-draft to the government's Travel Bill, which authorised mass public demonstrations. This led to a mass rally on East-Berlin's Alexanderplatz on 4 November in which he spoke and called for various reforms, including free elections. In December 1989, he became a member of a special SED party session investigating official corruption and abuse of power.

Fall of Communism

Gregor Gysi at the Alexanderplatz demonstration in November 1989 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-1104-042, Berlin, Demonstration, Rede Gregor Gysi.jpg
Gregor Gysi at the Alexanderplatz demonstration in November 1989

In December 1989, Egon Krenz, the last Communist leader of East Germany, resigned all of his posts. Gysi was elected as the party's chairman. He did not, however, become the leader of East Germany; the SED had abandoned its monopoly of power on 1 December. In his first speech, Gysi admitted that the SED had brought the country to ruin, repudiating everything it had done since 1949. He declared that the party needed to adopt a new form of socialism. [4]

Egon Krenz former General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of East Germany

Egon Rudi Ernst Krenz is a former East German politician who was the last communist leader of East Germany during the final months of 1989. He succeeded Erich Honecker as the General Secretary of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), but was forced to resign only months later when the Berlin Wall fell.

To that end, he immediately set about transforming the SED into a democratic socialist party. Before the year was out, the last hardliners in the SED leadership had either resigned or been pushed out. On 16 December, the SED was renamed the Socialist Unity Party – Party of Democratic Socialism (SED-PDS), it later became simply the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). Gysi remained as party chairman, and in March 1990 was elected to the Volkskammer in the first free election of that body, serving there until it was dissolved upon German reunification on 3 October 1990.


In the first post-reunification all-German elections, he was elected to the Bundestag from Berlin's Hellersdorf–Marzahn constituency, and served there until 2000. He remained chairman of the PDS through 1998, and then from 1998 to 2000 served as chairman of the party's parliamentary group.

In 1992 allegations were brought against him of having been an "unofficial collaborator" ( Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter , IM) or informant of East Germany's Ministry for State Security (the Stasi). He denied these allegations, and the matter was largely dropped due to his parliamentary immunity. In 1995 the Hamburg regional court ruled in Gysi's favour in a complaint against Bärbel Bohley, Gysi's former client, who had accused him of Stasi collaboration. However, the allegations were raised again in 1996, and this time the Bundestag voted to revoke his immunity and proceed with an investigation.

In 1998 the Bundestag's immunity committee concluded that Gysi had been a collaborator with the Stasi from 1978 to 1989 under the name IM Notar, and fined him 8,000 Deutsche Marks. However, both the Free Democratic Party and his own PDS disputed the verdict, and Gysi appealed against the finding. Despite the affair, he retained his seat in the Bundestag in the 1998 elections.[ citation needed ]

In 2000 he resigned as chairman of the PDS's parliamentary group, but continued as an active member of the party. Following the victory in Berlin's 2001 municipal elections of a coalition of the PDS and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), he was elected Senator for Economics, Labour, and Women's Issues and Deputy Mayor. He emphasised practical issues and advocated the reinstitution of some of what he sees as the better aspects of East Germany's system, such as extended child-care hours and a longer school day. After a scandal involving his use of airline "bonus miles" he had acquired on trips as a Bundestag member, he resigned on 31 July 2002 from the Berlin city government. The resignation was a blow to his public "can-do" image, but he has recovered from that to some extent in the wake of increasing public opposition to a number of new policies of the federal government, like the Hartz reforms lowering unemployment benefits to the levels of mere subsistence welfare, which he strongly opposes.

Oskar Lafontaine (left) and Gregor Gysi, election poster, Alexanderplatz, Berlin, 2005 Oskar Lafontaine and Gregor Gysi election poster.jpg
Oskar Lafontaine (left) and Gregor Gysi, election poster, Alexanderplatz, Berlin, 2005

In late 2004 he survived brain surgery and a heart attack. Formerly a heavy smoker, Gysi quit smoking after the crisis on his doctors' advice.

Gysi remained the PDS undisputed front man in many people's minds and continued to appear in public. In May 2005, when Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced plans to call an early election in September, many prominent PDS leaders including chair Lothar Bisky called on Gysi to front their campaign. He was a lead candidate of the PDS, and returned to the Bundestag as the member for Berlin Treptow – Köpenick. The PDS fought the election in an alliance with the new western-based Labour and Social Justice – The Electoral Alternative (WASG), under the new name The Left Party.PDS, with Gysi at times sharing a platform with WASG leader Oskar Lafontaine, former finance minister and formerly party leader of the SPD. In June 2007, the PDS and WASG formally merged to form a united party called The Left.

In 2014, Gysi wrote his analysis on the contemporary Ukraine crisis in the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, where he describes similarities between the United States and Russia in their transgressions of international law. Gysi calls for "a new Ostpolitik" to prevent war and promote "democracy and freedom in Russia". [5] In 2015, Gysi was one of the leading supporters of Greece during the Greek government-debt crisis. He described the current German government as "blackmailers".

Gysi is an outspoken supporter of the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which campaigns for democratic reformation of the United Nations. This is due to his belief in the need for "functioning and democratically legitimate global politics" [6]



Gysi continues to deny allegations, which first surfaced in 1992, that he was the important Stasi informant ("inoffizieller Mitarbeiter") identified in Stasi files as "IM Notar". Invited in 2017 to spell out who, other than himself, "IM Notar" could possibly be, he replied that he had a strong suspicion, backed by a huge amount of information, adding pointedly that whenever the allegations that he himself was "IM Notar" have come before a court, he has "always won". But in the absence of certain proof he is not prepared to disclose the identity of the true "IM Notar". [7]

German Parliament

In November 2014, after being invited by Inge Höger and Annette Groth, members of the Parliamentary left to talk with them in the German parliament, the Bundestag, journalists Max Blumenthal and David Sheen learned that Gysi, although himself critical of Israel regarding the Gaza Strip and the West Bank after 1967, tried to cancel the meetings on the grounds that Blumenthal and Sheen held extremist views on Israeli settlements, [8] [9] from which he wished to dissociate the German Left. [9] An incident, later dubbed "Toiletgate", occurred later. Blumenthal and Sheen waited for Gysi to "confront him about Israel's crimes in Gaza and the smears that Gysi and his acolytes had disseminated against them". [10]

Gysi fled, followed by the two and other parliamentary members down a parliament corridor and into a bathroom. After this event, Blumenthal and Sheen were banned from ever setting foot in the Bundestag again. [11] [12] [13] [14]

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  2. 1 2 3 Whitney, Craig R. (15 December 1989). "Upheaval In The East; East German Asks Help of U.S. In Keeping His Country Separate". New York Times . Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  3. Kamp, Konstantin. "Frage zum Thema Familie". Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  4. Thompson, Wayne C. (2008). The World Today Series: Nordic, Central and Southeastern Europe 2008. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: Stryker-Post Publications. ISBN   978-1-887985-95-6.
  5. Gregor Gysi. (2014). Europe and the Crisis in Ukraine: Is the International Community facing a new East-West Conflict? Archived 17 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine , Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, VIII (3), 75-87.
  6. Assembly, Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. "Statements". Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  7. Stefan Berg; Susanne Beyer; René Pfister (7 October 2017). ""Feigheit, meinetwegen"". Spiegel-Gespräch: Der Linkenpolitiker Gegor Gysi, 69, über sein Aufwachsen in der DDR-Elite, Die Gründe für die Wut vieler Ostdeutsche und seine notorische Neigung zur Pointe. Der Spiegel. 41/2017: 48. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  8. Delfs, Arne (12 November 2014), "Israel Critics Chase Left Leader in German Parliament", Bloomberg News
  9. 1 2 "Gysis ungebetene Gäste" Archived 23 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine , Die Zeit , 11 November 2014. ‹See Tfd› (in German)
  10. "Video: German politician hides in toilet from truth about Israel". 11 December 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  11. Mikcis, David (10 March 2015). "Wild Thing: Max Blumenthal's Creepy Anti-Zionist Odyssey". Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  12. Weinthal, Benjamin (15 November 2014), "German politicians, media outraged over leftists' anti-Israel 'toiletgate'", The Jerusalem Post , retrieved 21 May 2015
  13. "Israel critics chase Gysi into bathroom stall", The Local, 12 November 2014, retrieved 21 May 2015
  14. "Why I Was Censored From Talking About Israel In Germany". 1 December 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
Preceded by
Egon Krenz (as General Secretary)
Chairman of the SED
Succeeded by
Himself as chairman of the PDS
Preceded by
Himself as chairman of the SED
Chairman of the PDS
Succeeded by
Lothar Bisky
Preceded by
Post created
Chairman of the PDS Parliamentary Group
Succeeded by
Roland Claus
Preceded by
Juliane Freifrau von Friesen (Alliance '90/The Greens)
Minister for Economy, Labour and Women in Berlin
Succeeded by
Harald Wolf (PDS)
Preceded by
Roland Claus
Chairman of the Left Party Parliamentary Group
Succeeded by
Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch