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Walter Ulbricht

From Academic Kids

Walter Ulbricht on a  issue of
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Walter Ulbricht on a 1953 issue of TIME

Walter Ulbricht (June 30, 1893August 1, 1973) was a German communist politician. As First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971, he held the most influential role in the early existence of the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR).

Ulbricht was born in Leipzig as the son of a tailor. Both his parents worked actively for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD). He attended secondary school (Volksschule), and learned the trade of a joiner. Later, he served in World War I from 1915 to 1918 on the Polish, Serbian and Western Fronts.

In 1918, Ulbricht joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany. A founding member of the Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD) in 1919, Ulbricht attended the International Lenin School of the Komintern in Moscow in 1924/1925. The electors subsequently voted him into the regional parliament of Saxony (Sächsischer Landtag) in 1926. He became an Member of the German parliament (the Reichstag) from 1928 to 1933. After the Nazi Party formed a government in 1933, Ulbricht lived in exile in Paris and Prague from 1933 to 1938, then in Moscow from 1938 to 1945.

A leader of the East German communist Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, SED) from 1949 to 1971, he also served as Staatsratsvorsitzender (Chairman of the Council of State: head of state) of the German Democratic Republic from 1960, when President Wilhelm Pieck died, until his own death in 1973. Erich Honecker effectively ousted Ulbricht from power when he had to hand over the leadership of the SED in 1971, although he remained the head of state. He died at the Döllnsee near Berlin on August 1, 1973.

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Preceded by:
Wilhelm Pieck and Otto Grotewohl
General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
1950-1971
Succeeded by:
Erich Honecker
Preceded by:
Johannes Dieckmann
as State President
Chairman of the Council of State of the German Democratic Republic
1960-1973
Succeeded by:
Friedrich Ebert

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