East Germany emerged as a communist state from the Soviet occupied zone of Germany after World War II. It was founded in 1949 and formally ceased to exist in 1990 when it was absorbed by West Germany.
East Germany, also known as the Democratic Republic of Germany (GDR), was a member of the Soviet-controlled Warsaw Pact countries of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. It had a centrally planned economy and did not experience the 'economic miracle' in the 1950s and 60s that helped catapult West Germany from the ruins of World War II.
Joachim Gauck's life has been intertwined with several important chapters in the country's history. Like Chancellor Merkel, the outgoing president hails from the east. Unlike her, Gauck is known for speaking his mind.
Many refugees have survived harrowing experiences. While not everyone is traumatized, some need psychological help when they get to safety in Europe and elsewhere. But in Germany, Arabic-speaking psychologists and social workers are still scarce. A new project is trying to change that - by training Arab-speaking refugees from the Middle East as counselors.