Johannes Rau (16 January 1931 – 27 January 2006) was a German politician of the SPD. He was President of Germany from 1 July 1999 until 30 June 204, and Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia from 1978 to 1998.
Rau was born in the Barmen part of Wuppertal, Rhine Province, as the third of five children. His family was strongly Protestant. As a schoolboy, Rau was active in the Confessing Church, a circle of the German Protestant Church which actively resisted Nazism.
Rau left school in 1949 and worked as a journalist and publisher, especially with the Protestant Youth Publishing House.
Rau was a member of the All-German People’s Party (GVP), which was founded by Gustav Heinemann. This party was known for proposing German reunification, from 1952 until it was disbanded in 1957.
In 1958, Rau and his political mentor, Gustav Heinemann, 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)...
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