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

Leadership of East Germany
Coat of arms of East Germany.svg
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1984-0622-026, Egon Krenz.jpg
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)

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

Contents

Leaders of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED)Edit

 
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
.Pieck, WilhelmWilhelm Pieck
(1876–1960)
22 April 194625 July 19504 years, 94 daysSED
.Grotewohl, OttoOtto 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
1Ulbricht, WalterWalter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
10 February 19603 May 197111 years, 82 daysSED
2Honecker, ErichErich Honecker
(1912–1994)
3 May 197118 October 198918 years, 168 daysSED
3Krenz, EgonEgon Krenz
(born 1937)
18 October 19896 December 198949 daysSED
(Honorary) Chairman of the Central Committee
Vorsitzender des Zentralkommitees
1Ulbricht, WalterWalter 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 stateEdit

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
President of the Republic
Präsident der Republik
  Johannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
Acting President
7 October 1949 11 October 1949 LDPD
1   Wilhelm Pieck
(1876–1960)
11 October 1949 7 September 1960 SED
  Johannes Dieckmann
(1893–1969)
Acting President
7 September 1960 12 September 1960 LDPD
Chairman of the State Council
Vorsitzender des Staatsrats
1   Walter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
12 September 1960 1 August 1973 SED
  Friedrich Ebert Jr.
(1894–1979)
Acting Chairman
1 August 1973 3 October 1973 SED
2   Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
3 October 1973 29 October 1976 SED
3   Erich Honecker
(1912–1994)
29 October 1976 18 October 1989 SED
4   Egon Krenz
(born 1937)
18 October 1989 6 December 1989 SED
5   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
(born 1946)
5 April 1990 2 October 1990 CDU

Heads of governmentEdit

No. Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Took office Left office Political Party
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
Vorsitzender des Ministerrats
1   Otto Grotewohl
(1894–1964)
12 October 1949 21 September 1964 SED
2   Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
21 September 1964 3 October 1973 SED
3   Horst Sindermann
(1915–1990)
3 October 1973 29 October 1976 SED
4   Willi Stoph
(1914–1999)
29 October 1976 13 November 1989 SED
5   Hans Modrow
(born 1928)
13 November 1989 12 April 1990 SED / PDS
6   Lothar de Maizière
(born 1940)
12 April 1990 2 October 1990 CDU

Heads of parliamentEdit

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

Heads of the militaryEdit

 
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
1Ulbricht, WalterWalter Ulbricht
(1893–1973)
10 February 19603 May 197111 years, 82 daysSED
2Honecker, ErichErich Honecker
(1912–1994)
3 May 197118 October 198918 years, 168 daysSED
3Krenz, EgonEgon Krenz
(born 1937)
18 October 19896 December 198949 daysSED

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit