Erich Honecker (1912-1994) was a political leader in East Germany
who led the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands
) after party found Walter Ulbricht
resigned. Honecker was later chosen as the state president of the DDR
Honecker was born into a radical communist family and joined the youth organization of the German Communist Party (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD) when he was 10. At the age of 17 he went to Moscow to study at the International Lenin School.
After joining the resistance in 1933, Honecker was imprisoned by the Nazis in 1935 and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. He was released at the end of World War II and in 1958 was chosen as secretariat for the SED, responsible for security. In 1961 he was put in charge of building the Berlin Wall.
In 1989 he was ousted by his party because of growing social resistance to his government. After German reunification he fled to Moscow. After the fall of the USSR he was returned to Germany to face trial for ordering the killings of East Germans trying to flee to the west. His trial was cancelled due to health problems, so in 1993 he fled to Chile, where he later died.