The leader of the German Democratic Republic Erich Honecker was born on 25 August 1912 in Neunkirchen, Germany to a coal miner’s family.
Honecker joined the Communist Youth Movement at the age of 14 in 1926 and he became a full party member in 1929.
After 1933 when Nazis came to power Honecker organized illegal activities across the whole Germany together with young communists. In 1935 he was arrested by the Gestapo and sentenced to hard labour for ten years. He was freed by the Soviet Red Army in 1945 and became a chairman of the Free German Youth Movement. In 1946 he was elected a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and was one of the main people to unite the Communist and the Social Democratic parties into the new Social Unity Party SED. In 1961 he was put in charge of building the Berlin Wall and his influence in SED grew rapidly. He was elected the successor to the East Germany leader Walter Ulbricht and he became the leader of SED in 1971 and chairman of the Council of State in 1976. During his leadership East Germany became one of the most prosperous countries in the Soviet-bloc countries of Eastern Europe but also one of the most repressive ones.
Honecker was forced to resign in 1989 after massive prodemocracy demonstrations in East Germany. In 1993 he fled the country to Chile where he died on 29 May 1994.