Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany, established in April 1946, was the governing Marxist–Leninist political party of the German Democratic Republic from the country's foundation in October 1949 until its dissolution after the Peaceful Revolution in 1989. The GDR was a one-party state but other institutional popular front parties were permitted to exist in alliance with the SED, these parties being the Christian Democratic Union, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Farmers' Party, the National Democratic Party; the SED made the Russian language compulsory in schools. In the 1980s, the SED rejected the liberalisation policies of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, such as perestroika and glasnost, which would lead to the GDR's isolation from the restructuring USSR and the party's downfall in the autumn of 1989; the party's dominant figure from 1950 to 1971, effective leader of East Germany was Walter Ulbricht. In 1953, an uprising against the Party was met with violent suppression by the Ministry of State Security and the Soviet Army.
In 1971, Ulbricht was succeeded by Erich Honecker who presided over a stable period in the development of the GDR until he was forced to step down during the 1989 revolution. The party's last leader, Egon Krenz, was unsuccessful in his attempt to retain the SED's hold on political governance of the GDR and was imprisoned after German reunification; the SED's long-suppressed reform wing took over the party in the fall of 1989. In hopes of changing its image, on 16 December it renamed itself the Party of Democratic Socialism, abandoning Marxism–Leninism and becoming a mainstream democratic socialist party, it received 16.4% of the vote in the 1990 parliamentary elections. In 2007, the PDS merged with Labour and Social Justice into The Left, the fifth largest party in the German parliament following the 2017 federal election; the SED was founded on 21 April 1946 by a merger of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the Communist Party of Germany, based in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany and the Soviet-occupied sector of Berlin.
Official East German and Soviet histories portrayed this merger as a voluntary pooling of efforts by the socialist parties. However, there is much evidence that the merger was more troubled than portrayed. By all accounts, the Soviet occupation authorities applied great pressure on the SPD's eastern branch to merge with the KPD; the newly merged party, with the help of the Soviet authorities, swept to victory in the 1946 elections for local and regional assemblies held in the Soviet zone. However, these elections were held under less-than-secret conditions, thus setting the tone for the next four decades. A truer picture of the SED's support came with the local elections in Berlin, which were the first honest elections held there since the Nazi era. In that contest, the SED received less than half the votes of the SPD; the bulk of the Berlin SPD remained aloof from the merger though Berlin was deep inside the Soviet zone. The Soviet Military Administration in Germany directly governed the eastern areas of Germany following World War II, their intelligence operations monitored all political activities.
An early intelligence report from SVAG Propaganda Administration director Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Ivanovich Tiulpanov indicates that the former KPD and SPD members created different factions within the SED and remained rather mutually antagonistic for some time after the formation of the new party. Reported was a great deal of difficulty in convincing the masses that the SED was a German political party and not a tool of the Soviet occupation force. According to Tiulpanov, many former members of the KPD expressed the sentiment that they had "forfeited revolutionary positions, that alone would have succeeded much better had there been no SED, that the Social Democrats are not to be trusted". Tiulpanov indicated that there was a marked "political passivity" among former SPD members, who felt they were being treated unfairly and as second-class party members by the new SED administration; as a result, the early SED party apparatus became immobilised as former KPD members began discussing any proposal, however small, at great length with former SPD members, so as to achieve consensus and avoid offending them.
Soviet intelligence claimed to have a list of names of an SPD group within the SED, covertly forging links with the SPD in the West and with the Western Allied occupation authorities. A problem for the Soviets that they identified with the early SED was its potential to develop into a nationalist party. At large party meetings, members applauded speakers who talked of nationalism much more than when they spoke of solving social problems and gender equality; some proposed the idea of establishing an independent German socialist state free of both Soviet and Western influence, of soon regaining the German land that the Yalta Conference, the Potsdam Conference, had allocated to Poland, the USSR, Czechoslovakia. Soviet negotiators reported that SED politicians pushed past the boundaries of the political statements, approved by the Soviet monitors, there was some initial difficulty making regional SED officials realize that they should think before opposing the political positions decided upon by the Central Committee in Berlin.
Although it was nominally a merger of equals, from the beginning the SED was dominated by Communists. By the late 1940s, the SED began to purge most recalcitrant Social Democrats from its ranks. By
Egon Rudi Ernst Krenz is a former East German politician, the last communist leader of East Germany during the final months of 1989. He succeeded Erich Honecker as the General Secretary of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany, but was forced to resign only months when the Berlin Wall fell. Throughout his career, Krenz held a number of prominent positions in the SED, he was Honecker's deputy from 1984 onward, until he succeeded him in 1989 amid protests against the regime. Krenz was unsuccessful in his attempt to retain the communist regime's grip on power, was forced to resign some weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was expelled from the SED party on 21 January 1990. After German reunification in 1990, he was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for manslaughter, for his role in the crimes of the communist regime, he retired to the small town of Dierhagen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern upon his release from prison in late 2003. Krenz was born in Kolberg in, now Poland, his family resettled in Damgarten in 1944.
Trained as a teacher and dabbling in journalism, Krenz joined the Free German Youth in 1953, as a teenager and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany in 1955. After serving in the Volksarmee from 1959 to 1961, he rejoined the FDJ, he studied at a prestigious Communist Party staff school in Moscow for three years, became a nomenclature member and obtained a social science degree by 1967. Throughout his career, Krenz held a number of posts in the communist government, he was leader of the Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organisation from 1971 to 1974, became a member of the central committee of the party in 1973. He was a member of the People's Chamber from 1971 to 1990, a member of its presidium from 1971 to 1981. Between 1974 and 1983, he was leader of the Free German Youth. From 1981 to 1984 he was a member of the Council of State. In 1983, he joined the Politburo and became a secretary of the central committee with responsibility for security, he rose to supreme prominence when he became Honecker's deputy on the Council of State in 1984.
Around the same time, he replaced Paul Verner as the unofficial number-two man in the SED leadership, thus making him the second-most powerful man in the country. Although he was the youngest member of the Politburo, speculation abounded that Honecker had tapped him as his heir apparent. Following popular protests against the GDR's Communist government, the SED Politburo voted to remove Honecker on 18 October 1989, Krenz was elected as the new General Secretary of the SED Central Committee. Krenz had been approached several months earlier about ousting Honecker, but was reluctant to move against a man he called "my foster father and political teacher", he was willing to wait until the ill Honecker died, but by October was convinced that the situation was too grave to wait for what he had called "a biological solution". Despite many protests, the People's Chamber elected Krenz to both of Honecker's major state posts—Chairman of the Council of State and Chairman of the National Defence Council.
The former post was equivalent to that of president, while the latter post made Krenz commander-in-chief of the National People's Army. For only the second time in the People's Chamber's forty-year history, the vote was not unanimous. In his first address as leader, Krenz promised to blunt some of the harsher edges of Honecker's regime and promised democratic reforms. Few East Germans believed him. For instance, they still remembered that after the Tiananmen Square massacre just months earlier, he had gone to China to thank Deng Xiaoping on behalf of the regime. For this and other reasons, Krenz was as detested as Honecker had been. Indeed as soon as he took power, thousands of East Germans took to the streets to demand his resignation. On the same day he took office, Krenz received a top secret report from planning chief Gerhard Schürer that showed the depths of East Germany's economic crisis, it showed that East Germany did not have enough money to make payments on the massive foreign loans that propped up the economy, it was now DM123 billion in debt.
Although Krenz had been the number-two man in the administration, Honecker had kept the true state of the economy a secret from him. Krenz was forced to send Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski to beg West Germany for a short-term loan to make interest payments. However, West Germany was unwilling to consider negotiations until the SED abandoned power and allowed free elections—something that Krenz was unwilling to concede; this was not the only evidence that Krenz did not intend to open up the regime. While publicly discussing such reforms as loosening travel restrictions, he personally ordered the rejection of the dissident group New Forum's application to become an approved organization. Ahead of the large Alexanderplatz demonstration on 4 November, he ordered the Stasi to prevent any unauthorized attempt to cross the border by "bodily violence". On 7 November, Krenz approved the resignation of Prime Minister Willi Stoph and his entire cabinet along with two-thirds of the Politburo. However, the Central Committee unanimously re-elected Krenz to the position of General Secretary.
In a speech, Krenz attempted a reckoning with history, which criticized his political mentor Honecker. Yet, by this st
The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe; the designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the used term Reichswehr, was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted. After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force, fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors; this required the reinstatement of conscription, massive investment and defense spending on the arms industry. The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg, its campaigns in France, the Soviet Union, North Africa are regarded as acts of boldness.
At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy and logistics apparent. Cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite denials and promotion of the myth of the Clean Wehrmacht; the majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Italy, as part of the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare. During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces had lost 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions.
The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes. The German term "Wehrmacht" stems from the compound word of German: wehren, "to defend" and Macht, "power, force", it has been used to describes any nation's armed forces. The Frankfurt Constitution of 1849 designated all German military forces as the "German Wehrmacht", consisting of the Seemacht and the Landmacht. In 1919, the term Wehrmacht appears in Article 47 of the Weimar Constitution, establishing that: "The Reich's President holds supreme command of all armed forces of the Reich". From 1919, Germany's national defense force was known as the Reichswehr, a name, dropped in favor of Wehrmacht on 21 May 1935. In January 1919, after World War I ended with the signing of the armistice of 11 November 1918, the armed forces were dubbed Friedensheer. In March 1919, the national assembly passed a law founding a 420,000-strong preliminary army, the Vorläufige Reichswehr; the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were announced in May, in June, Germany signed the treaty that, among other terms, imposed severe constraints on the size of Germany's armed forces.
The army was limited to one hundred thousand men with an additional fifteen thousand in the navy. The fleet was to consist of at most six battleships, six cruisers, twelve destroyers. Submarines and heavy artillery were forbidden and the air-force was dissolved. A new post-war military, the Reichswehr, was established on 23 March 1921. General conscription was abolished under another mandate of the Versailles treaty; the Reichswehr was limited to 115,000 men, thus the armed forces, under the leadership of Hans von Seeckt, retained only the most capable officers. The American historians Alan Millet and Williamson Murray wrote "In reducing the officers corps, Seeckt chose the new leadership from the best men of the general staff with ruthless disregard for other constituencies, such as war heroes and the nobility". Seeckt's determination that the Reichswehr be an elite cadre force that would serve as the nucleus of an expanded military when the chance for restoring conscription came led to the creation of a new army, based upon, but different from, the army that existed in World War I.
In the 1920s, Seeckt and his officers developed new doctrines that emphasized speed, combined arms and initiative on the part of lower officers to take advantage of momentary opportunities. Though Seeckt retired in 1926, the army that went to war in 1939 was his creation. Germany was forbidden to have an air force by the Versailles treaty; these officers saw the role of an air force as winning air superiority and strategic bombing and providing ground support. That the Luftwaffe did not develop a strategic bombing force in the 1930s was not due to a lack of interest, but because of economic limitations; the leadership of the Navy led by Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, a close protégé of Alfred von Tirpitz, was dedicated to the idea of reviving Tirpitz's High Seas Fleet. Officers who believed in submarine warfare led by Admiral Karl Dönitz were in a minority before 1939. By 1922
Wildau is a German municipality of the state of Brandenburg, located in the district of Dahme-Spreewald. It is located close to Berlin and reached by the S-Bahn; as of 2006 its population was of 9,649 inhabitants. The history of Wildau began with fisherman's families that settled by the Dahme River and came to deliver sand and bricks from the region by boat to Berlin. Mechanical engineering put Wildau on the map as a location for industry. In 1897, the company Schwartzkopff GmbH established a locomotive factory here, built housing for the factory workers, today is under cultural heritage management. During the Second World War, local factories were involved in armaments production. After the war, they became East Germany's state enterprise in heavy engineering. After German unification, the factories were shut down by the Treuhand. In the region around Wildau, numerous technology and business parks have been set up in recent years, with service industries, logistics centers, as well as energy and environmental technology companies.
An engineering school founded in 1949, was an integral part of mechanical engineering in the region before 1990. In 1991 the federal state of Brandenburg founded the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau. In 2013 Wildau acquired the title of city and now is one of 113 other such small cities in Brandenburg. Walter Lehweß-Litzmann, Luftwaffe and NVA officer director of flight operations of Interflug, died in Wildau Willi Stoph, longtime chairman of the Council of Ministers of the GDR, is buried in the forest cemetery Website of TFH Wildau Website of Wildau Institute of Technology
National People's Army
The National People's Army was the armed forces of the German Democratic Republic from 1956 to 1990. The NVA was organized into four branches: the Landstreitkräfte, the Volksmarine, the Luftstreitkräfte, the Grenztruppen; the NVA belonged to the Ministry of National Defence and commanded by the National Defense Council of East Germany, headquartered in Strausberg 30 kilometers east of East Berlin. From 1962, conscription was mandatory for all GDR males aged between 18 and 60 requiring an 18-month service, was the only Warsaw Pact military to offer non-combat roles to conscientious objectors, known as "construction soldiers"; the NVA reached 175,300 personnel at its peak in 1987. The NVA was formed on 1 March 1956 to succeed the Kasernierte Volkspolizei and influenced by the Soviet Army, becoming one of the Warsaw Pact militaries opposing NATO during the Cold War; the majority of NATO officers rated the NVA the best military in the Warsaw Pact based on discipline, thoroughness of training, the quality of officer leadership.
The NVA did not see significant combat but participated in the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, deployed military advisors to communist governments in other countries, manned the Berlin Wall where they were responsible for numerous deaths. The NVA was dissolved on 2 October 1990 with the GDR before German reunification; the German Democratic Republic established the National People's Army on 1 March 1956 from the Kasernierte Volkspolizei. This formation culminated years of preparation during which former Wehrmacht officers and communist veterans of the Spanish Civil War helped organize and train paramilitary units of the People's Police. Though the NVA featured a German appearance – including uniforms and ceremonies patterned after older German military traditions – its doctrine and structure showed the strong influence of the Soviet Armed Forces. During its first year, about 27 percent of the NVA's officer corps had served in the Wehrmacht. Of the 82 highest command positions, ex-Wehrmacht officers held 61.
The military knowledge and combat experience of these veterans were indispensable in the NVA's early years, although by the 1960s most of these World War II veterans had retired. In its first six years the NVA operated as an all-volunteer force; the GDR introduced conscription in 1962. According to the Parallel History Project on Cooperative Security: the NVA was incorporated in the Warsaw Pact and consisted of army, air force/air defense, the People’s Navy. At its peak in 1987, the three NVA services had about 156,000 men under arms altogether. Between 1956 and 1990, about 2.5 million male GDR citizens performed army duty. Like the ruling communist parties of other Soviet satellites, the East German Socialist Unity Party of Germany assured control by appointing loyal party members to top positions and by organizing intensive political education for all ranks; the proportion of SED members in the officer corps rose after the early 1960s reaching 95 percent. The NVA saw itself as the "instrument of power of the working class".
According to its doctrine, the NVA protected peace and secured the achievements of socialism by maintaining a convincing deterrent to imperialist aggression. The NVA's motto, inscribed on its flag, read: "For the Protection of the Workers and Farmers' Power"; the NVA never took part in full-scale combat, although it participated in a support role in the suppression of the Prague Spring of 1968, NVA officers served as combat advisers in Africa. Some of the first NVA advisors went to the Republic of the Congo in 1973. During the 1980s at various times the NVA had advisors in Algeria, Ethiopia, Iraq, Mozambique, South Yemen, Syria; when the Soviet Union prepared to occupy Czechoslovakia in 1968, the GDR government committed the 7th Panzer Division and the 11th Motorised Infantry Division to support the intervention, becoming the first deployment of German troops outside Germany for the first time since the Second World War. But the East German participation raised Czech ire, the two divisions were "kept out of sight in the Bohemian forests" and allowed to travel only at night.
In a few days they were withdrawn. In the early 1970s the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany high command assigned to the NVA the wartime mission of capturing West Berlin; the NVA plan for the operation, designated "Operation Centre", called for some 32,000 troops in two divisions, accompanied by the GSFG's Soviet 6th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade. The plan was updated until 1988, when a less ambitious plan that aimed at containing Berlin was substituted. In the autumn of 1981 the NVA stood ready to intervene in Poland in support of a possible Soviet invasion, but the declaration of martial law in Poland averted the crisis; the NVA went into a state of heightened combat readiness on several occasions, including the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, for the last time, in late 1989 as protests swept through the GDR. The NVA operated as a professional
The Volkskammer was the unicameral legislature of the German Democratic Republic. The Volkskammer was the lower house of a bicameral legislature; the upper house was the Chamber of States, or Länderkammer, but in 1952 the states of East Germany were dissolved, the Chamber was abolished in 1958. Constitutionally, the Volkskammer was the highest organ of state power in the GDR, both constitutions vested it with great lawmaking powers. All other branches of government, including the judiciary, were theoretically responsible to it. By 1960, the chamber appointed the Council of the State, the Council of Ministers, the National Defence Council. In practice, the People's Chamber was a rubber stamp that did little more than give legal sanction to decisions made by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and its Politburo; this was standard operating procedure in nearly all Communist legislatures. All parties were expected to respect the principles of democratic centralism and the leading role of the SED.
As a result, all but two measures put. From its founding in 1949 until the first competitive elections in March 1990, all members of the Volkskammer were elected via a single list from the National Front, a popular front/electoral alliance dominated by the SED. In addition, seats were allocated to various organizations affiliated with the SED, such as the Free German Youth; the members of the chamber were elected with four to eight seats. To be elected, a candidate needed to receive half of the valid votes cast in their constituency. If, within a constituency, an insufficient number of candidates got the majority needed to fill all the seats, a second round was held within 90 days. If the number of candidates getting this majority exceeds the number of seats in the respective constituency, the order of the candidates on the election list decided who got to sit in the Volkskammer. Candidates who lost out on a seat because of this would become successor candidates who would fill casual vacancies which might occur during a legislative period.
Only one list of candidates appeared on a ballot paper. Those who wanted to vote against the ruling party's list of candidates had to vote using a separate ballot box, without any secrecy. Seats were apportioned based on a set quota, not actual vote totals. By ensuring that its candidates dominated the list, the SED predetermined the composition of the Volkskammer; the table below shows an overview of the reported results of all parliamentary elections before 1990, with the resulting disposition of parliamentary seats. 1Eastern Bureau of the Social Democratic Party of Germany In 1976, the Volkskammer moved into a specially-constructed building on Marx-Engels-Platz, the Palast der Republik. Prior to the opening of the Palast der Republik the Volkskammer meet at Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus in the Mitte district of Berlin. Voters in East Berlin could not take part in elections to the Volkskammer, in which they were represented by indirectly-elected non-voting members, but in 1979 the electoral law was changed to provide for 66 directly elected deputies with full voting rights.
After the 1990 election, the disposition of the parties was as follows: The presidency of the People's Chamber was held by a non-Communist for most of that body's existence. This was to keep up the appearance; the president of the People's Chamber was the third-highest state post in the GDR and was ex-officio vice president of the country. The last president of the People's Chamber, Sabine Bergmann-Pohl, was interim head of state during the last six months of East Germany's existence due to the State Council having been abolished. Presidium of the People's Chamber Show election A Successful Policy Seared to the Needs of the People "Deliberations" of the Volkskammer on nuclear disarmament, 1981
Erich Honecker was a German politician who, as the General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party, led the German Democratic Republic from 1971 until the weeks preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. From 1976 onward he was the country's official head of state as chairman of the State Council following Willi Stoph's relinquishment of the post. Honecker's political career began in the 1930s when he became an official of the Communist Party of Germany, a position for which he was imprisoned during the Nazi era. Following World War II, he was freed and soon relaunched his political activities, founding the youth organisation the Free German Youth in 1946 and serving as the group's chairman until 1955; as the Security Secretary of the Party’s Central Committee in the new East Germany, he was the prime organiser of the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and, in this function, bore responsibility for the "order to fire" along the Inner German border. In 1970, he initiated a political power struggle that led, with Leonid Brezhnev's support, to his replacing Walter Ulbricht as First Secretary of the Central Committee and as chairman of the state's National Defense Council.
Under his command, the country adopted a programme of "consumer socialism" and moved toward the international community by normalising relations with West Germany and becoming a full member of the UN, in what is considered one of his greatest political successes. As Cold War tensions eased in the late 1980s under perestroika and glasnost, the liberal reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Honecker refused all but cosmetic changes to the East German political system, citing the continual hardliner attitudes of Kim Il-sung and Fidel Castro, whose respective regimes of North Korea and Cuba had been critical of reforms; as anticommunist protests grew, Honecker begged the USSR to intervene and suppress the protests to maintain communist rule in East Germany like the Prague Spring of 1968 and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Honecker was forced to resign by his party in October 1989 in a bid to improve the government's image before the public. Honecker's eighteen years at the helm of the soon-to-collapse German Democratic Republic came to an end.
Following German reunification, he sought asylum in the Chilean embassy in Moscow in 1991 but was extradited back to Germany a year to stand trial for his role in the human rights abuses committed by the East German government. However, the proceedings were abandoned due to illness and he was freed from custody to travel to join his family in exile in Chile, where he died in May 1994 from liver cancer. Honecker was born in Neunkirchen, in what is now Saarland, as the son of Wilhelm Honecker, a coal miner and political activist, who had married Caroline Catharina Weidenhof in 1905; the couple had six children together: Katharina, Frieda, Erich and Karl-Robert. Erich, their fourth child, was born on 25 August 1912 during the period in which the family resided on Max-Braun-Straße, before moving to Kuchenbergstraße 88 in the present-day Neunkirchen city district of Wiebelskirchen. After World War I, the Territory of the Saar Basin was occupied by France; this change from the strict rule of Baron von Stumm to French military occupation provided the backdrop for what Wilhelm Honecker understood as proletarian exploitation, introduced young Erich to communism.
After his tenth birthday in 1922, Erich Honecker became a member of the Spartacus League's children's group in Wiebelskirchen. Aged 14 he entered the KJVD, the Young Communist League of Germany, for whom he served the organisation's leader of Saarland from 1931. Honecker did not find an apprenticeship after leaving school, but instead worked for a farmer in Pomerania for two years. In 1928 he returned to Wiebelskirchen and began a traineeship as a roofer with his uncle, but quit to attend the International Lenin School in Moscow and Magnitogorsk after the KJVD hand-picked him for a course of study there. There, sharing a room with Anton Ackermann, he studied under the cover name "Fritz Malter". In 1930, aged 18, Honecker entered the Communist Party of Germany, his political mentor was Otto Niebergall, who represented the KPD in the Reichstag. After returning from Moscow in 1931 following his studies at the International Lenin School, he became the leader of the KJVD in the Saar region. After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Communist activities were only possible within Germany undercover.
Honecker was soon released. Following this he fled to the Netherlands and from there oversaw KJVD's activities in Pfalz and Baden-Württemberg, he returned to the Saar in 1934 and worked alongside Johannes Hoffmann on the campaign against the region’s re-incorporation into Germany. A referendum on the area’s future in January 1935 however saw 90.73% vote in favour of reunifying with Germany. Like 4,000 to 8,000 others, Honecker fled the region relocating to Paris. On 28 August 1935 he illegally travelled to Berlin under the alias "Marten Tjaden", with a printing press in his luggage. From there he worked together with then-KPD official Herbert Wehner in opposition/resistance to the Nazi state. On 4 December 1935 Honecker was detained by the Gestapo and until 1937 remanded in Berlin’s Moabit detention centre. On 3 July 1937 he was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for the "preparation of high treason alongside the severe falsification of documents". Honecker spent the majority of his incarceration in the Brandenburg-Gö