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Erich Honecker A Presentation by Alexandra Foulkes.

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1 Erich Honecker A Presentation by Alexandra Foulkes

2 Overview Honecker was a German politician, who held Communist views and led the German Democratic Republic, (or DDR), from 1971- 1989. He was born on the 25 th of August 1912, and died of terminal illness on the 29 th of May 1994. He was the fourth of six children born to parents Wilhelm and Caroline.

3 His first venture into politics was in 1926, (14/15 years old), when he joined the Young Communist League of Germany, (part of the Communist Party of Germany, which he joined three years later). In 1937, he was sentences to 10 years imprisonment due to his Communist activities, and remained a prisoner until the end of WWII. Political Career

4 At the end of the war, he was released. Following the successful election of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, (or SED), which he was part of, he contributed to the leadership of the post-war East German parliament. The DDR was proclaimed on the 7 th of October 1949, and its political system bore many similarities to that of the Soviet Union.

5 Honecker and East Germany In 1961, Honecker was put in charge of managing the building of the Berlin Wall, due to his position as the General Committee secretary for matters of security. By 1971, he had taken over from Walter Ulbricht as the First Secretary of the SED Central Committee.

6 Five years later, he also became the Chairman of the Council of State; thus becoming the de facto head of state. He pushed a programme of ‘consumer socialism’ in the DDR, improving living standards. However, in spite of this, there was no tolerance towards those who were against the separation; many East Germans were killed trying to illegally cross into West Germany or West Berlin.

7 Photo taken during a National Peoples’ Army exercise in East Germany. Honecker

8 He was forced to resign on the 18 th of October 1989, replaced by Egon Krenz. At this point, Honecker was elderly and ill, and facing mass opposition due to the fact that he would not adopt the reforms (glasnost, or ‘publicity’, and perestroika, ‘restructuring’) introduced by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to help liberalise communism, (relaxing previous laws/making amendments).

9 Post-Resignation The DDR was dissolved in October 1990. Honecker fled to Moscow following accusations about his involvement in the deaths of numerous East Germans who illegally attempted to leave. The dissolution of the Soviet Union finally happened in December 1991.

10 Following his forced return to Germany in early 1993, Honecker’s trial was formally reopened, however, he was released due to his poor state of health. He moved to Chile with his daughter Sonja and her family on the 13 th of January, that same year. He died of liver cancer in Santiago on the 29 th of May 1994.

11 „Die Zukunft gehört dem Sozialismus.“ “The future belongs to socialism“ - Erich Honecker, early 1980s.

12 Ende :)

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