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Walter Ulbricht
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World Leader
    (June 30, 1893-August 1, 1973)
    Born in Leipzig, Germany
    Joined the Central Committee of the German Communist party (1923)
    Head of state of East Germany (1950-71)
    He deserted from the German army during World War I.
    He rose through the Communist ranks largely by denouncing rivals for being insufficiently loyal to the Soviet Union.
    As a protege of Joseph Stalin, his position was in jeopardy following Stalin's death.
    Ironically, he was saved by an anti-Communist uprising (June 17, 1953), as the Soviet leadership decided removing Ulbricht would look like a sign of weakness.
    He ordered the erection of the Berlin Wall two months after declaring, 'Nobody has the intention of building a wall.'
    He and his wife adopted a daughter.
    When Stalinist industrialization failed to produce economic growth, he implemented a 'New Economic System' to decentralize planning and improve efficiency.
    He was forced to resign, with poor health being given as the reason, following repeated clashes with Leonid Brezhnev.

Credit: C. Fishel

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