Erich Honecker

Aug 25, 1912 - May 29, 1994

Erich Ernst Paul Honecker was a German communist politician who led the German Democratic Republic from 1971 until shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989. He held the posts of General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and Chairman of the National Defence Council; in 1976, he replaced Willi Stoph as Chairman of the State Council, the official head of state. As the leader of East Germany, Honecker had close ties to the Soviet Union, which maintained a large army in the country.
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 by the Nazis. Following World War II, he was freed by the Soviet army and relaunched his political activities, founding the SED's youth organisation, the Free German Youth, in 1946 and serving as the group's chairman until 1955. As the Security Secretary of the SED Central Committee, 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 Wall and the larger inner German border.
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“Like the Soviet Union, which liberated us, like the People’s Republic of China, which recently celebrated the fortieth anniversary of its founding as well, like the People’s Republic of Poland and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, and like the other socialist countries, the GDR will cross the threshold to the year 2000 with the certainty that the future belongs to socialism.”

Erich Honecker
Aug 25, 1912 - May 29, 1994
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