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Deutsche Geschichte
German History

Die Berliner Mauer - Die Wende
The Berlin Wall - German Reunification

Glossary


Walter Ulbricht and The Wall 1961

Die DDR - The GDR

In September 1960, Walter Ulbricht (1893-1973) became the head of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, die Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR), aka East Germany. The GDR had been established in the former Soviet Zone in 1949, about the same time that the western German Federal Republic (die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, BRD) came into being in the ashes of World War II.

It was in Berlin that the two Germanys lived closest to each other, side by side. As the economy of West Germany began to outstrip that of communist East Germany, Germans began "voting with their feet," an expression that reflected the fact that East Berlin and East Germany were losing population, as their citizens crossed into the western part of the country and West Berlin to live and work.

The government of the GDR faced the serious problem of a "brain drain" and a loss of people. In August 1961 Walter Ulbricht, in consultation with the Warsaw Pact (Warschauer Vertrag) countries of the East Block, decided to order the construction of a wall around East Berlin, dividing the former German capital into western and eastern sections, and cutting off families and friends from each other, simply because they lived in a particular part of the city. Carrying out Ulbricht's order was none other than Erich Honecker (1912-1994), who would later become Ulbricht's successor in 1971.

On June 15, 1961, only two months before the Berlin Wall went up, Walter Ulbricht made the now infamous remark: "Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten..." ("No one has any intention of building a wall...")

WEB > Walter Ulbricht (Wikipedia English)
WEB > Erich Honecker (Wikipedia, English)

WEB > Walter Ulbricht (DDR im WWW, German)
WEB > Erich Honecker (DDR im WWW, German)
WEB > Walter Ulbricht (DHM, German)

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