World

German president honors peaceful protesters who challenged communist dictatorship 25 years ago

  • German President Joachim Gauck, right, waves besides his Hungarian counterpart Janos Ader,  left, before the beginning of the ceremonial act at the 25th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in Leipzig, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. The city commemorates the autumn of 1989 when the so-called Monday demonstrations ushered in the Fall of the Berlin Wall. On Oct. 9, 1989, the major decisive demonstrations took place against the former regime of the GDR – 70,000 people paved the way for changes. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

    German President Joachim Gauck, right, waves besides his Hungarian counterpart Janos Ader, left, before the beginning of the ceremonial act at the 25th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in Leipzig, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. The city commemorates the autumn of 1989 when the so-called Monday demonstrations ushered in the Fall of the Berlin Wall. On Oct. 9, 1989, the major decisive demonstrations took place against the former regime of the GDR – 70,000 people paved the way for changes. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)  (The Associated Press)

  • German President Joachim Gauck sits besides his partner Daniela Schadt prior to a memorial service in the St Nikolai Church (Nikolaikirche) marking the 25th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in Leipzig, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. The city commemorates the autumn of 1989 when the so-called Monday demonstrations ushered in the Fall of the Berlin Wall.  (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

    German President Joachim Gauck sits besides his partner Daniela Schadt prior to a memorial service in the St Nikolai Church (Nikolaikirche) marking the 25th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in Leipzig, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. The city commemorates the autumn of 1989 when the so-called Monday demonstrations ushered in the Fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, talks to Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former Foreign minister of Germany, right, prior to a memorial service in the St Nikolai Church (Nikolaikirche) marking the 25th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in Leipzig, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. The city commemorates the autumn of 1989 when the so-called Monday demonstrations ushered in the Fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, talks to Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former Foreign minister of Germany, right, prior to a memorial service in the St Nikolai Church (Nikolaikirche) marking the 25th anniversary of the peaceful revolution in Leipzig, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. The city commemorates the autumn of 1989 when the so-called Monday demonstrations ushered in the Fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)  (The Associated Press)

Germany's president has honored the bravery of peaceful protesters who stood up to the communist dictatorship in East Germany 25 years ago.

Joachim Gauck spoke Thursday at an event commemorating one of the biggest demonstrations, on Oct. 9, 1989, when tens of thousands took to the streets of Leipzig to call for freedom and democracy.

He says none of those taking part could have known for sure whether authorities would opt for a "Chinese solution" and violently crush dissent like on Beijing's Tiananmen Square months earlier.

Gauck says the example of so many ordinary people overcoming their fears encouraged others and heralded the peaceful revolution that culminated in the Berlin Wall's fall one month later.

Gauck, a one-time Protestant pastor, himself was involved in the protest movement.