|Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany|
|Preceded by||Rainer Ortleb|
|Chairman of the Council of State of the German Democratic Republic|
|Preceded by||Egon Krenz|
|Born||8 May 1928|
|Died||17 October 2011 (aged 83)|
|Political party||Liberal Democratic Party of Germany|
Born in Leipzig in 1928, Gerlach was arrested at school in 1944 for starting an anti-fascist youth group. After World War Two he joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). This was one of the small political parties that the communist government allowed to exist. He studied law at the Walter Ulbricht German Academy of State Sciences and Law. During the 1950's he became General Secretary of the LDP and the mayor of Leipzig. From 1967 to 1990 he was on the Council of State, and its vice-chairman. He became chairman of the LDP in 1967 until it merged with two other parties in 1990, to take part in the first free elections in East Germany.
When Egon Krenz resigned as chaiman of the Council of State on 6 December, 1989, Gerlach became acting chairman ( as head of state he was effectively the President. After the 1990 elections, the new government reorganized, and removed the Council of State, and Gerlach resigned on 5 April 1990. He died in Berlin in 2011 after a long illness.