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.