German ex-President Richard von Weizsaecker has died at the age of 94, the president’s office has announced.
Richard von Weizsaecker’s 10 years in office, from 1984 to 1994, spanned the period of German reunification.
A soldier in the German army in World War Two, Richard von Weizsaecker won widespread praise for his efforts to persuade Germans to confront their Nazi past.
A member of the Christian Democratic Union, he also served as the governing mayor of West Berlin in the 1980s.
Announcing Richard von Weizsaecker’s death, current President Joachim Gauck said: “Richard von Weizsaecker stood worldwide for a Germany that had found its way to centre of the democratic family of peoples.
“He stood for a federal republic that faces up to its past.”
Richard von Weizsaecker was first elected president in 1984 and his speech a year later on the 40th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany won him widespread respect.
He told the West German parliament: “All of us, whether guilty or not, whether young or old, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it. Anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present.
“The 8th of May was a day of liberation. It freed us all from the system of National Socialist tyranny.”
The same year he became the first West German head of state to visit Israel.
Richard von Weizsaecker was elected unopposed to a second term in 1989, overseeing in the largely ceremonial role the initial years of a reunited Germany.
Google has been ordered by a German federal court to clean up the auto-complete results its search engine suggests.
The court said Google must ensure terms generated by auto-complete are not offensive or defamatory.
The court case was started by an unnamed German businessman who found that Google.de linked him with “scientology” and “fraud”.
Google must now remove defamatory word combinations when told about them, said the court.
A person’s privacy would be violated if the associations conjured up by auto-complete were untrue, the federal court said in a statement about the ruling.
However, it added, this did not mean that Google had to sanitize its entire index.
Bettina Wulff, wife of former German president Christian Wulff, sued Google because auto-complete suggested words linking her to escort services
“The operator is, as a basic principle, only responsible when it gets notice of the unlawful violation of personal rights,” it said.
The ruling on auto-complete overturns two earlier decisions by lower German courts.
In the past, Google has defended itself by arguing that it has no control over the combinations of words that auto-complete suggests. Instead, it said, these were automatically generated by the frequency with which other people were looking for such keywords.
A Google spokesman said he was “disappointed and surprised” by the court’s decision, in an interview with Bloomberg. He said it was “incomprehensible” that Google was going to be held liable for the searches carried out by users.
The ruling could also have a bearing on another case involving auto-complete. Bettina Wulff, wife of former German president Christian Wulff, sued Google because auto-complete suggested words linking her to escort services.
Bettina Wulff denies ever working as a prostitute and has fought several legal cases over the accusation. The case against Google is due to be heard soon in a Hamburg court.
Christian Wulff, Germany’s president, has announced his resignation, after prosecutors called for his immunity to be lifted.
Christian Wulff, an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel is embroiled in a scandal over a home loan that he accepted when he was premier of Lower Saxony.
Chancellor Angela Merkel cancelled a visit to Italy on Friday to deal with the crisis, and she will give a statement shortly.
Christian Wulff, Germany’s president, has announced his resignation, after prosecutors called for his immunity to be lifted
According to German media, the crisis is unprecedented in post-war Germany.
The affair will be no more than a headache for Chancellor Merkel, whose approval rating is high among the German people.
However, it comes at a time when Angela Merkel does not need any new headaches, as Germany wrestles with the Eurozone debt crisis.