Walter Ulbricht – Germany’s After WWII Leader

Walter Ulbricht was often described as one of the blandest human beings that ever held a significant political office. While this may or may not be true, Ulbricht was certainly deprived of all personal charisma.

Born in 1893 in Leipzig, young Ulbricht didn’t show much interest in school. He barely finished eight years of elementary education and went into cabinet making. During the World War I, he served in Balkans and the Eastern Front. Towards the end of the war, he deserted the army but was captured and imprisoned in Charleroi in Belgium. In the final days of the German Empire, he was released with the rest of his fellow deserters.

In 1920, Ulbricht joined German Communist Party. He became active in politics and became a member of party’s Central Committee in 1923. Next year, Ulbricht was sent to Moscow, where he attended International Lenin School, a Comintern’s school teaching international students on how to export revolution in their own countries.


He eventually became a member of the German Reichstag, but his political career was abruptly ended with Adolph Hitler’s rise to power and his purge of communists. Ulbricht fled Germany, first to Paris and Prague and later to Spain, where he joined the Republicans. He didn’t saw any real frontline action, chasing instead German communists not loyal enough to Joseph Stalin and liquidating them. In 1937 he went to Moscow, where he stayed until April 1945.

Once back in Berlin, Ulbricht was quick to seize power and establish Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands or SED). In 1950 he became General Secretary of the party, which equated to the head of state. He kept the position until 1971 and it was during his term that notorious Berlin Wall was built.

Ulbricht was always trying to emulate Soviet leaders Lenin and Stalin. His beard was a clear copy of famous Lenin beard, and he always tried to rule with the iron fist like Stalin, never giving him a reason to doubt Ulbricht’s loyalty to Moscow and Stalin personally.


Once Stalin died in 1953, Ulbricht was forced to deal with Khrushchev, who was a different animal. Still, the German leader managed to stay in power until 1971, when his rigidness and orthodoxy became a liability in light of Moscow trying to improve the relationship with West Germany and its leader Willy Brandt. Ulbricht was forced to resign almost all of his functions, citing poor health as a reason. He remained an honorary Chairman of the SED. He died in 1973 from a stroke.

Source: historyinanhour.com

Nikolai Bukharin – Another Stalin’s Victim

Once lauded as the most promising young star in the communist hierarchy and a “Favourite of the whole party,” Nikolai Bukharin met his end like just another of Stalin’s victims.

Born in a family of teachers, young Bukharin became enamored with communistic ideas early on. At the age of 17, he took part in the Russian revolution of 1905. Like so many of his Bolshevik friends, constant arrests forced him to flee Russia and live in exile until 1917 and the news of the deposition of the Tsar.


Upon his return, he was elected to the central committee. Bukharin didn’t always saw eye to eye with Lenin and he wasn’t afraid to show his dissent, like in the case of the truce with Germany. Bukharin believed that the war should be continued and used as a catalyst for the Pan European revolution.

When Lenin died and Stalin took power, Bukharin found himself agreeing with the new leader at the start, especially about agricultural issues, which were vital for the starving Soviet Union. Both Stalin and Bukharin held the position that kulaks (rich peasants) are the key to increasing the productivity of Soviet agriculture and that collectivization is a wrong path. However, Bukharin soon discovered that the only reason Stalin held that position was to lure his opponents out in the open and deal with them. Bukharin’s friends Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev were among Stalin’s first targets, together with Trotsky, who refused to yield and fled Russia, only to be killed by Stalin’s agents in 1940.


Once Stalin had no need of Bukharin anymore, he quickly removed him from power, taking away his seat at the Politburo. The writing was on the wall, and Bukharin was sure Stalin would arrest him soon, which he did in 1937. In a show trial, he was accused of collaborating with Trotsky and planning an assassination of Stalin. At first, Bukharin denied these charges, but once his wife was threatened, he relented and admitted to all of them, saying: “Everybody perceives the wise leadership of the country that is ensured by Stalin.”

Knowing all too well that people seldom survived communist prisons, Bukharin started bombarding Stalin with letters, promising everything he could think of in return for his freedom. In one letter he even offered his wife as a hostage. Not one of the letters were answered. In one of them, he desperately wrote: “Koba, why do you need me to die?” (Koba was another Stalin’s nom de guerre) this letter was found in Stalin’s desk after his death.

In the end, Bukharin’s pleas didn’t save him and he was executed on March 15th, 1938.

Source: historyinanhour.com