FILE - The Feb. 6, 2009 file photo shows then faction leader of the German Social Democrats at the Federal Parliament, Peter Struck during a news conference in Berlin, Germany. The former German Defense Minister died Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:45AM
BERLIN — Former German Defense Minister Peter Struck, a vehement opponent of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, died Wednesday following a heart attack. He was 69.
His family said Mr. Struck, a plain-spoken politician who was a leading lawmaker for Germany’s center-left Social Democrats for almost three decades, died in a Berlin hospital.
Mr. Struck served as Germany’s defense minister from 2002 to 2005. While an opponent of the Iraq war, he oversaw the early years of Germany’s military engagement in Afghanistan, famously announcing that “German security is being defended in the Hindu Kush” mountains.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a statement that “Peter Struck’s death fills me with great sorrow.”
Merkel, who originally came to power in a so-called grand coalition with Mr. Struck’s party in 2005, called him “a great parliamentarian” who strongly defended his positions but was always a reliable partner.”
“With his death Germany is losing a steadfast and authentic personality, who embodied like almost no one else the country’s defense policy,” said Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere.