Ulbricht, Walter

(1893-1973)
   politician; a KPD functionary who sur-vived to lead the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in the German Democratic Re-public. Born to a working-class home in Leipzig, he left school in 1907 to apprentice as a cabinetmaker; he soon joined the socialist youth movement. He entered the SPD in 1912 and began studies at Leipzig's Workers' Institute. By the outbreak of war he was associated with the SPD's left wing. He was drafted in 1915; his desertion in 1918 brought two months' imprisonment.
   After a second desertion Ulbricht escaped incarceration and arrived in Leipzig just as the November Revolution* was unfolding. Joining the Spartacus League,* he served with Leipzig's Workers' and Soldiers' Council*; in January 1919 he helped organize the city's KPD. A gifted organizer, if lacking in cha-risma, he was so productive that the Party appointed him Thuringia's* district secretary in April 1921. After proclaiming in 1922 that "the measure of the party's capacity for action" was a foothold in the factories, he was elected in 1923 to the Zentrale and given authority to organize factory cells. Engaged in Thuringia's botched 1923 uprising, he lost his Zentrale seat and, facing arrest, fled to Moscow to train as a Comintern agent. Briefly assigned to Vienna and Prague, he reappeared in Berlin* in September 1925. He reentered the Zentrale in 1927 and was elected in 1928 to the Reichstag* (he retained his seat until 1933). During a hiatus in 1928 when Ernst Thalmann* was relieved of his Party offices, Ulbricht served as KPD emissary to the Comintern. As Berlin-Brandenburg's district secretary in 1929-1933, Ulbricht organized strikes, parades, and street encounters. Steadily espousing Moscow's line, he dubbed the SPD "the moderate wing of fascism." After spending most of 1933 in the resistance, he fled to Prague in October and then went to Paris in 1936 to work with Wilhelm Pieck.* Summoned to Moscow in 1938, he avoided a charge of "deviationism" (fatal to numerous colleagues) and helped organize the National Committee for a Free Germany. He returned to Germany in April 1945 as head of the Communist working group. In 1949, upon Germany's di-vision, he became general secretary of the SED.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Stachura, Political Leaders; Carola Stern, Ulbricht; Hermann Weber, Kommunismus.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Ulbricht,Walter — Ul·bricht (o͝olʹbrĭkt, brĭKHt), Walter. 1893 1973. German politician who was general secretary of East Germany s Socialist Unity Party (1953 1971) and chairman of the council of state (1960 1973). He ordered the building of the Berlin Wall (1961) …   Universalium

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