Walter Ulbricht

former leader of East Germany, First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party

Walter Ernst Paul Ulbricht (30 June 1893 – 1 August 1973) was the leader of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). 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 East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). As the first secretary of the Socialist Unity Party 1950 to 1971, he was the chief decision maker in East Germany. From President Wilhelm Pieck's death in 1960, he was also the East German head of state until his own death in 1973.

Walter Ulbricht

Quotes edit

  • The West German revanchists and militarists are using the peace-loving position of the USSR and the member-states of the Warsaw Pact on the resolution of German question, so as to inflict harm on the German Democratic Republic through subversive activity and the illegal recruitment of citizens of the German Democratic Republic. For this, they primarily use the open border in Berlin. In the interests of the peaceful work and construction by the citizens of the German Democratic Republic and of the member-states of the Warsaw Pact, it is necessary to stop the illegal recruitment and other hostile measures. Therefore, we propose that the member-states of the Warsaw Pact agree, in the interests of the cessation of the subversive activity, to implement control along the borders of the German Democratic Republic, including the borders in Berlin, comparable to the control along the state borders of the Western powers.
  • With the creation of a separate West German state, with the conclusion of the Paris Agreements and with the inclusion of West Germany in NATO, the Western powers finally unilaterally broke the Potsdam Agreement, this sole valid document in international law for Germany in the postwar period. It is not coincidental that in connection with this a special occupation status of the three powers was established in West Berlin. By this three-sided occupation status, the Western powers themselves confirmed that they violated the international-legal basis of their occupation regime in West Berlin and that this regime was based only on undisguised military force.

Attributed edit

Quotes about Ulbricht edit

  • The scale of the movement was impressive, with over 120 committees established nationwide. [...] The fact that so many committees adopted similar names and policies poses the question of whether there was a centralised organisation at work. Communists were prominent in nearly every Antifa despite the opposition of Moscow. Walter Ulbricht, the KPD leader, criticised the 'spontaneous creation of KPD bureaus, people's committees, and Free Germany committees', but he could do little as the KPD central apparatus had no communication link with the rank and file. Once communications were restored he could report: 'We have shut these [Antifas] down and told the comrades that all activities must be channelled through the state apparatus.'
  • The authorities in the German Democratic Republic kept an even more rigid control over their people than was achieved by Hoxha in Albania, whose mountainous terrain and village traditions made things difficult for the central state authorities. Walter Ulbricht aimed to turn his state into a model of contemporary communism. It was his constant pestering that pushed the Soviet Presidium into sanctioning the building of the Berlin Wall. Competition was joined with West Germany to raise the quality of material and social life, and Ulbricht constantly claimed that the German Democratic Republic was winning. In 1963 he introduced a New Economic System which provided enterprises and their managers with somewhat wider powers outside central planning control. Output rose but never as quickly as in West Germany. Although people were better off than previously, Ulbricht’s unpopularity deepened. His ideological rigidity made even Brezhnev appear flexible. No one could forget that he bore responsibility for stopping people from meeting their relatives in the West. He was fired in May 1971, utterly convinced of the correctness of his policies to the very end. His successor Erich Honecker was only marginally less gloomy. Political presentation was made somewhat livelier but the basic policies remained the same. Far from being a workers’ paradise, the German Democratic Republic was eastern Europe’s most efficient police state.
    • Robert Service, Comrades: A History of World Communism (2009)

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