Leadership of East Germany

The political leadership of East Germany was in the hands of several offices.

Prior the proclamation of an East German state, the Soviets established in 1948 the German Economic Commission (DWK) as a de facto government in their occupation zone. Its chairman was Heinrich Rau.

On 7 October 1949 an East German state, called the German Democratic Republic (GDR), was proclaimed and took the governmental functions over from the DWK. (Largely with the same function owners.)

For most of its existence (until autumn of 1989), the most important position in the GDR was that of the General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) (titled as the First Secretary between 1953–1976). The Communist party and its leader held ultimate power and authority over state and government.

The formal head of state originally was the President of the German Democratic Republic. After the death of incumbent Wilhelm Pieck in 1960, the office was replaced by a collective head of state, the State Council. The position of chairman was commonly held by the party leader.

Government was headed by the Council of Ministers and its chairman, sometimes colloquially called Prime Minister.

Other important institutions included the People's Chamber, whose sessions were chaired by a President of the People's Chamber, and, since 1960, the National Defense Council, which held supreme command of the GDR's armed forces and had unlimited authority over the State in time of war. The Council was composed exclusively of members of the SED's Central Committee and Politburo, with the party leader serving as Chairman of the National Defense Council.

The political landscape was completely changed by the Peaceful Revolution late in 1989, which saw the SED having to relinquish its monopoly on political power and the National Defense Council and the State Council being abolished. The remaining institutions were the People's Chamber, whose President by default became head of state for the remainder of the GDR's existence, and the Council of Ministers, both now based on the country's first and only democratic elections in March 1990. The GDR joined the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990

Leadership of East Germany
Coat of arms of East Germany
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1984-0622-026, Egon Krenz
Last General Secretary
Egon Krenz
18 October 1989 – 6 December 1989
ResidenceSchönhausen Palace
Majakowskiring
Waldsiedlung
Formation7 October 1949
First holder
Final holder
Abolished
  • 6 December 1989 /
  • 18 March 1990
    (Communist rule ended)
  • 3 October 1990
    (German reunification)

Leaders of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED)

Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands Logo
Logo of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Name Took office Left office Time in office Party
Joint Chairmen of the Socialist Unity Party
Vorsitzende der Sozialistischen Einheitspartei Deutschlands
.
Wilhelm Pieck
Wilhelm Pieck
(1876–1960)
22 April 194625 July 19504 years, 94 daysSED
.
Otto Grotewohl
Otto Grotewohl
(1894–1964)
22 April 194625 July 19504 years, 94 daysSED
General Secretary of the Central Committee
(First Secretary of the Central Committee 1953–1976)
Generalsekretär/Erster Sekretär des Zentralkommitees
1
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
10 February 19603 May 197111 years, 82 daysSED
2
Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker
(1912–1994)
3 May 197118 October 198918 years, 168 daysSED
3
Egon Krenz
Egon Krenz
(born 1937)
18 October 19896 December 198949 daysSED
(Honorary) Chairmen of the Central Committee
Vorsitzender des Zentralkommitees
1
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
3 May 19711 August 1973 †2 years, 90 daysSED

On 1 December 1989, the People's Chamber removed the section of the East German Constitution granting the SED a monopoly of power—thus ending Communist rule in East Germany. Before the month was out, the SED transformed from a Leninist cadre party into a democratic socialist party, renaming itself first to Socialist Unity Party — Party of Democratic Socialism and later in the same year, to Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). Hence, the party's subsequent leaders were no more leaders of East Germany than the leaders of other parties.

Heads of state

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
President of the Republic
Präsident der Republik
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0711-0037-001, Johannes Dieckmann Johannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
Acting President
7 October 1949 11 October 1949 LDPD
1 Fotothek df roe-neg 0002793 004 Portrait Wilhelm Piecks im Publikum der Bachfeier Wilhelm Pieck
(1876–1960)
11 October 1949 7 September 1960 SED
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0711-0037-001, Johannes Dieckmann Johannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
Acting President
7 September 1960 12 September 1960 LDPD
Chairman of the State Council
Vorsitzender des Staatsrats
1 Fotothek df pk 0000079 077 Walter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
12 September 1960 1 August 1973 SED
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-83285-0029, Friedrich Ebert Friedrich Ebert Jr.
(1894–1979)
Acting Chairman
1 August 1973 3 October 1973 SED
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R0430-0305A, Willi Stoph Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
3 October 1973 29 October 1976 SED
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R0518-182, Erich Honecker Erich Honecker
(1912–1994)
29 October 1976 18 October 1989 SED
4 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1984-0622-026, Egon Krenz Egon Krenz
(born 1937)
18 October 1989 6 December 1989 SED
5 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-83285-0015, Manfred Gerlach Manfred Gerlach
(1928–2011)
6 December 1989 5 April 1990 LDPD
President of the People's Chamber of the GDR
Präsident der Volkskammer
1 Sabine Bergmann-Pohl Sabine Bergmann-Pohl
(born 1946)
5 April 1990 2 October 1990 CDU

Heads of government

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
Vorsitzender des Ministerrats
1 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-19204-3150, Otto Grotewohl Otto Grotewohl
(1894–1964)
12 October 1949 21 September 1964 SED
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R0430-0305A, Willi Stoph Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
21 September 1964 3 October 1973 SED
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-M1030-0315, Horst Sindermann Horst Sindermann
(1915–1990)
3 October 1973 29 October 1976 SED
4 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R0430-0305A, Willi Stoph Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
29 October 1976 13 November 1989 SED
5 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-1117-019, Hans Modrow Hans Modrow
(born 1928)
13 November 1989 12 April 1990 SED / PDS
6 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1990-0318-046, Berlin, Volkskammerwahl, Lothar de Maizière Lothar de Maizière
(born 1940)
12 April 1990 2 October 1990 CDU

Heads of parliament

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
President of the People's Chamber
Präsident der Volkskammer
1 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0711-0037-001, Johannes Dieckmann Johannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
7 October 1949 22 February 1969 LDPD
2 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1986-0617-033, Gerald Götting Gerald Götting
(1923–2015)
12 May 1969 29 October 1976 CDU
3 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-M1030-0315, Horst Sindermann Horst Sindermann
(1915–1990)
29 October 1976 13 November 1989 SED
4 Manfred Gerlach Günther Maleuda
(1931–2012)
13 November 1989 5 April 1990 DBD
5 Sabine Bergmann-Pohl Sabine Bergmann-Pohl
(born 1946)
5 April 1990 2 October 1990 CDU

Heads of the military

Coat of arms of NVA (East Germany)
Coat of arms of the National People's Army
Chairman of the National Defense Council
Vorsitzender des Nationalen Verteidigungsrates
Took office Left office Time in office Party
1
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
10 February 19603 May 197111 years, 82 daysSED
2
Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker
(1912–1994)
3 May 197118 October 198918 years, 168 daysSED
3
Egon Krenz
Egon Krenz
(born 1937)
18 October 19896 December 198949 daysSED

See also

External links

Battle of Frankenhausen

The Battle of Frankenhausen was fought on 14 and 15 May 1525. It was an important battle in the German Peasants' War and the final act of the war in Thuringia: joint troops of Landgrave Philip I of Hesse and Duke George of Saxony defeated the peasants under their spiritual leader Thomas Müntzer near Frankenhausen in the County of Schwarzburg.

East Berlin District Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany

The East Berlin District Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, was the position of highest authority in the district of East Berlin, having more power than the Mayor of East Berlin. The position was created on April 21, 1946 and abolished in 1989, following the fall of the Berlin Wall. The First Secretary was a de facto appointed position usually by the Politburo or the General Secretary himself.

East German mark

The East German mark (German: Mark der DDR ), commonly called the eastern mark (Ostmark in West Germany and after the reunification), in East Germany only Mark, was the currency of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Its ISO 4217 currency code was DDM. The currency was known officially as the Deutsche Mark from 1948 to 1964, Mark der Deutschen Notenbank from 1964 to 1967, and from 1968 to 1990 as the Mark der DDR (Mark of the GDR). It was divided into 100 Pfennig (Pf).

Erich Honecker

Erich Honecker (German: [ˈeːʁɪç ˈhɔnɛkɐ]; 25 August 1912 – 29 May 1994) was a German politician who, as the General Secretary of the Communist Unity Party, led the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1971 until the weeks preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. From 1976 onward he as also the country's official head of state as chairman of the State Council following Willi Stoph's relinquishment of the post.

Honecker's political career began in the 1930s when he became an official of the Communist Party of Germany, a position for which he was imprisoned during the Nazi era. Following World War II, he was freed and soon relaunched his political activities, founding the youth organisation the Free German Youth in 1946 and serving as the group's chairman until 1955. As the Security Secretary of the Party’s Central Committee in the new East Germany, he was the prime organiser of the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and, in this function, bore responsibility for the "order to fire" along the Inner German border.

In 1970, he initiated a political power struggle that led, with Leonid Brezhnev's support, to his replacing Walter Ulbricht as First Secretary of the Central Committee and as chairman of the state's National Defense Council. Under his command, the country adopted a programme of "consumer socialism" and moved toward the international community by normalising relations with West Germany and also becoming a full member of the UN, in what is considered one of his greatest political successes.

As Cold War tensions eased in the late 1980s under perestroika and glasnost, the liberal reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Honecker refused all but cosmetic changes to the East German political system, citing the continual hardliner attitudes of Kim Il-sung and Fidel Castro, whose respective regimes of North Korea and Cuba had been critical of reforms. As anticommunist protests grew, Honecker begged the USSR to intervene and suppress the protests to maintain communist rule in East Germany like the Prague Spring of 1968 and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956; Gorbachev refused. Honecker was forced to resign by his party in October 1989 in a bid to improve the government's image before the public. Honecker's eighteen years at the helm of the soon-to-collapse German Democratic Republic came to an end.

Following German reunification, he sought asylum in the Chilean embassy in Moscow in 1991 but was extradited back to Germany a year later to stand trial for his role in the human rights abuses committed by the East German government. However, the proceedings were abandoned due to illness and he was freed from custody to travel to join his family in exile in Chile, where he died in May 1994 from liver cancer.

Imre Kozma

Imre Kozma (born 4 June 1940) is a Hungarian Roman Catholic priest, the founder of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta, patron of East German refugees arriving to Hungary in 1988-89.

List of Chancellors of Germany

The Chancellor of Germany is the political leader of Germany and the head of the Federal Government. The office holder is responsible for selecting all other members of the government and chairing cabinet meetings.The office was created in the North German Confederation in 1867, when Otto von Bismarck became the first Chancellor. With the unification of Germany and establishment of the German Empire in 1871, the Confederation evolved into a German nation-state and the office became known as the Chancellor of Germany.Originally, the Chancellor was only responsible to the Emperor. This changed with the constitutional reform in 1918, when the Parliament was given the right to dismiss the Chancellor. Under the 1919 Weimar Constitution the Chancellors were appointed by the directly elected President, but were responsible to Parliament. The constitution was set aside during the 1933–1945 Nazi dictatorship. During Allied occupation, no independent German government and no Chancellor existed; and the office was not reconstituted in East Germany. The 1949 Basic Law made the Chancellor the most important office in West Germany, while diminishing the role of the President.

List of Chancellors of Germany by time in office

This is a list of Chancellors of Germany by time in office from 1867 to the present including the Federal Republic of Germany and its predecessors. This is based on the difference between dates; if counted by number of calendar days all the figures would be one greater. (Note that the shortest-reigning and longest-reigning pope lists use numbers of calendar days.) Bismarck's successive tenure as Chancellor of the North German Confederation (1867-1871) and of the German Empire (1871-1890) is counted as one continuous term; Müller and Marx's double terms are treated as single, continuous tenures.

List of Presidents of Germany

A number of presidential offices have existed in Germany since the collapse of the German Empire in 1918.

The Weimar Constitution of August 1919 created the office of President of Germany (German: Reichspräsident). Upon the death of Paul von Hindenburg in August 1934 the office was left vacant, with Adolf Hitler becoming head of state as Führer und Reichskanzler. In April–May 1945, Karl Dönitz briefly became President upon the suicide of Hitler (in accordance with last will and testament of Hitler).

The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany of May 1949 created the office of President of the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundespräsident). From German reunification in 1990, the President has been the head of state for all of Germany.

The East German constitution of October 1949 created the office of President of the German Democratic Republic (German: Präsident der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, DDR). Upon the death of Wilhelm Pieck in 1960, the office of Präsident der DDR was abolished and replaced by a collective head of state, the Staatsrat ("State Council"). The Staatsrat was abolished by a constitutional amendment of the Volkskammer ("People's Chamber") on 5 April 1990. From then until the GDR joined the Federal Republic on 3 October 1990, the president of the Volkskammer also served as the GDR head of state.

Lists of rulers of Germany

This is a list of rulers and office-holders of Germany.

Lotte Ulbricht

Lotte Ulbricht (19 April 1903 – 27 March 2002, born Charlotte Kühn) was a Socialist Unity Party of Germany official and the second wife of the East German leader Walter Ulbricht.

She was born the younger of two children in Rixdorf in 1903. Her father was an unskilled labourer and her mother a homeworker in Berlin. After attending primary and middle school, she worked as an office worker and a shorthand typist. In 1919, she joined the Free Socialist Youth movement, and in 1921, the Communist Party of Germany. She worked for the Party's central committee and in 1922-23, was a shorthand typist with the Communist Youth International (KJI) in Moscow. Kühn was thereafter a member of the central committee of the KPD and the KPD Reichstag group. In 1926-27 she was archivist with the KJI and then until 1931, secretary and shorthand typist at the Soviet Union's bureau of commerce in Berlin. In 1931, she emigrated to Moscow with her first husband, Erich Wendt. She became an instructor with the Comintern and completed a distance learning study at the Academy of Marxism-Leninism and an evening course at Moscow State University. Following the arrest of her husband in 1936 during the Stalinist purges, she divorced him the same year and was herself investigated. She remained under an official Party reprimand until 1938. From 1939 to 1941, she worked as a compositor at a foreign language printer, and later for the Comintern until 1945.

Kühn's older brother, Bruno, was discovered by the Gestapo in Amsterdam in 1943, working as a radio operator for the NKVD. He was executed in 1944, probably in Brussels.

Until 1947, she was a member of the central committee of the Communist Party. After 1947, she was a personal assistant to Walter Ulbricht, whom she knew from their time in Moscow, where they lived at the Hotel Lux, along with numerous other German exiles. After her 1953 marriage to Ulbricht, she resigned her job working for him and began studying at the Institute for Social Sciences, which awarded her a Social Sciences Diploma in 1959. During 1959-73, she was employed by the Institute for Marxism-Leninism, where, among other things, she was responsible for editing Walter Ulbricht's speeches and writings published by the Institute.

In addition, she was a member of the Women's Commission of the Secretariat of the Central Committee and of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. She retired in July 1973, a few weeks before the death of her husband. Lotte Ulbricht was much feted by the state and party leadership of East Germany, including in 1959, 1963, and 1978 the Fatherland Order of Merit, in 1969 and 1983 the Order of Karl Marx, and in 1988 the Grand Star of Friendship of Nations.

In a rare interview, after German reunification, in 1990, she complained that "Honecker wasted my husband's inheritance".On March 27, 2002, she struggled out of her wheelchair and shuffled to a ladder propped against a bookcase. She climbed to look for a book on an upper shelf, crashed to the floor, and died that night. She lived at 12 Majakowskiring Street, Pankow, Berlin. She and Walter adopted a Russian girl, Beate Ulbricht (1944-1991).

Thomas Muentzer (film)

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Uruguayan Ambassador to East Germany

The Uruguayan ambassador in East Berlin was the official representative of the Government in Montevideo to the Government of East Germany.

Walter Ulbricht

Walter Ernst Paul Ulbricht (German: [ˈvaltɐ ˈʊlbʁɪçt]; 30 June 1893 – 1 August 1973) was a German communist politician. Ulbricht played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and later (after spending the years of Nazi rule in exile in France and the Soviet Union) in the early development and establishment of the German Democratic Republic in East Germany. As the First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971, he was the chief decision maker in East Germany. From President Wilhelm Pieck's death in 1960 on, he was also the East German head of state until his own death in 1973.

Ulbricht began his political life during the German Empire, when he joined first the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1912, the anti-World War I Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) in 1917 and deserted the Imperial German Army in 1918. He joined the Communist Party of Germany in 1920 and became a leading party functionary, serving in its Central Committee from 1923 onward. After the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933, Ulbricht lived in Paris and Prague from 1933 to 1937 and in the Soviet Union from 1937 to 1945.

After the end of World War II, Ulbricht re-organized the German Communist Party in the Soviet occupation zone along Stalinist lines. He played a key role in the forcible merger of the KPD and SPD into the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) in 1946. He became the First Secretary of the SED and effective leader of the recently-established East Germany in 1950. The Soviet Army occupation force violently suppressed the uprising of 1953 in East Germany on 17 June 1953, while Ulbricht hid in the Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst. East Germany joined the Soviet-controlled Warsaw Pact upon its founding in 1955. Ulbricht presided over the total suppression of civil and political rights in the East German state, which functioned as a one-party communist dictatorship from its founding in 1949 onward.

The nationalization of East German industry under Ulbricht failed to raise the standard of living to a level comparable to that of West Germany. The result was massive emigration, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the country to the west every year in the 1950s. When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave permission for a wall to stop the outflow in Berlin, Ulbricht had the Berlin Wall built in 1961, which triggered a diplomatic crisis and succeeded in curtailing emigration. The failures of Ulbricht's New Economic System and Economic System of Socialism from 1963 to 1970 led to his forcible retirement for "health reasons" and replacement as First Secretary in 1971 by Erich Honecker with Soviet approval. Ulbricht suffered a stroke and died in 1973.

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