Ulbricht, Walter

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Ulbricht, Walter

Walter Ulbricht (väl´tər ŏŏl´brĬkht), 1893–1973, Communist leader in the German Democratic Republic. A founder of the German Communist party, he fled Germany in 1933 and went to Moscow, where he was a member of the politburo of the exiled German Communist party. Ulbricht entered Germany with the Russian troops in 1945. In 1949 he became deputy premier of the German Democratic Republic and in 1950 was named secretary-general of the Socialist Unity party, successor to the Communist party. Leader of East Germany from that time, he became chairman of the council of state in 1960. A hard-line Communist who was opposed to normalizing relations with West Germany, Ulbricht was responsible for the building (1961) of the Berlin Wall. He strongly supported close ties with the USSR and sent troops to join the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. In 1971 he was replaced as secretary-general by Erich Honecker.

See biography by C. Stern (tr. 1965).

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