Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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Bibliography

Andrew Christopher, and Gordievsky Oleg, KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev ( New York, 1990); Dennis Mike, German Democratic Republic: Politics, Economics, Society ( New York, 1988).

National Defense Council in East Germany. This institution was established in 1960 ostensibly by the East German parliament, but, in reality, by the Politburo of the East German Socialist Unity party. Its first chairman was Walter Ulbricht (see Ulbricht Walter), to be followed by Ulbricht's successor, Erich Honecker (see Honecker Erich). Twelve members of the Defense Council were officially appointed by the State Council; in reality, however, they were "recommended" by the first secretary of the Socialist Unity party and the State Council rubber-stamped the decision. The actual membership of the Defense Council was a state secret. It was known, however, that the chairman, Ulbricht and later Honecker, would become commander in chief of the armed forces in an emergency. The actual tasks of the Defense Council were never revealed to the public. Presumably, it included council of war and civil defense and the mobilization of the people in an emergency.


Bibliography

Larrabee F. Stephen, ed. The Two German States and European Security ( New York, 1989).

National People's Army of East Germany. In September 1947, the Soviet zone had only about 4,000 armed German security forces. Equipped mostly with outdated World War II arms, they were designated as "border police" in spite of the fact that there were no official borders as yet. By the end of 1950, almost 100,000 so-called East German policemen were under arms, constituting the kernel of the future East German armed forces. Many of the participants of these forces were former soldiers of Adolf Hitler's army. They were headed by former Wehrmacht generals Wincenz Muller and Arno von Lenski. But the commanders of the future were members of the German Communist party; these were Wilhelm Zaisser and Heinz Hoffmann, both veterans of the Spanish civil war and graduates of Soviet military academies.

On January 18, 1956, the East German parliament established the National People's Army. Its commander was the minister of defense. According to the law, the minister carried out the will of parliament. However, since the "leading force" of East Germany was designated to be the Socialist Unity party, final decisions concerning the disposition and composition of the armed forces were determined by the Politburo/Presidium of the party. There were direct communications between the People's Army and the Soviet general command in East Germany as well as the Soviet general staff in the Soviet Union. The latter provided the armaments used by the East German armed forces. A large number of Soviet military advisors were attached to the East German ministry of defense transmitting instructions on training and the use of arms. The East German minister of defense was also deputy commander in chief of the

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