Beate Klarsfeld, a Nazi hunter who spent decades fighting fascism and gained infamy after giving a German chancellor a slap in the face, is entering the race for the German presidency.
Die Linke (The Left), the smallest party in the German parliament, nominated the 73-year-old on Monday to run against former East German rights activist Joachim Gauck, considered the favorite to win the presidency, The New York Times reported.
Gauck has emerged as a consensus candidate to replace Christian Wulff, who stepped down earlier this month amid allegations that he accepted favors from businessmen while in office.
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Klarsfeld shot to fame in November 1968 when she rushed the stage at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party conference and slapped then-German Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, shouting “Nazi! Nazi! Nazi!” in reference to Kiesinger’s past role as a functionary in the propaganda ministry of Joseph Goebbels.
Following four months in prison, she and her husband, Serge Klarsfeld devoted their lives to hunting down Nazis. Their most celebrated success was the locating of former Gestapo officer and so-called “Butcher of Lyon” Klaus Barbie, who was living in Bolivia under an alias, according to Haaretz.
By standing against Gauck, Klarsfeld said the special parliamentary embassy that will choose Germany’s new president on March 18 was being given a clear choice between “two very moral candidates.”
The 72-year-old Protestant pastor is himself best known for hunting Stasi agents whilst commissioner of the Stasi files in Berlin following German reunification, and has the backing of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-left coalition and the main opposition parties, the Social Democrats and the Greens, according to The Guardian.
He is almost certain to win at next month’s elections, the Associated Press reports. Die Linke have a maximum of 125 votes at the ballot, while Merkel’s CDU has up to 489, the Social Democrats have 329 and the Greens up to 147.
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