Erich Mielke

Erich Mielke
Mielke in 1976
Minister for State Security
In office
11 December 1957 – 7 November 1989
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
See list
Preceded byErnst Wollweber
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Wolfgang Schwanitz (as Head of the Office for National Security)
State Secretary in the
Ministry for State Security
In office
8 February 1950 – 11 December 1957
Serving with Joseph Gutsche, Ernst Wollweber
Chairman of the
Council of Ministers
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the Volkskammer
for Hohenmölsen, Naumburg, Weißenfels, Zeitz[1]
In office
14 June 1981 – 16 November 1989
Preceded bymulti-member district
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Erich Fritz Emil Mielke

(1907-12-28)28 December 1907
Wedding, Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire (now Germany)
Died21 May 2000(2000-05-21) (aged 92)
Neu-Hohenschönhausen, Berlin, Germany
Political partySocialist Unity Party (1946–1989)
Other political
Communist Party of Germany (1928–1946)
SpouseGertrud Mueller
  • Politician
  • Civil Servant
  • Freight Forwarder
Military service
Allegiance East Germany
Branch/service National People's Army
Battles/warsSpanish Civil War
World War II
Criminal statusServed prison sentence 7 December 1989 – 9 March 1990; 26 July 1990[a] – 1 August 1995, released on parole in 1995 due to poor health
Conviction(s)Murder (2 counts), Attempted murder
Criminal penalty6 years imprisonment
Central institution membership

Other offices held

Erich Fritz Emil Mielke (German: [ˈeːʁɪç ˈmiːlkə]; 28 December 1907 – 21 May 2000) was a German communist official who served as head of the East German Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatsicherheit – MfS), better known as the Stasi, from 1957 until shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

A native of Berlin and a second-generation member of the Communist Party of Germany, Mielke was one of two triggermen in the 1931 murders of Berlin Police captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck. After learning that a witness had survived, Mielke escaped arrest by fleeing to the Soviet Union, where the NKVD recruited him. He was one of the key figures in the decimation of Moscow's many German Communist refugees during the Great Purge[2] as well as in the Red Terror; the witch-hunt by the Servicio de Información Militar for both real and imagined members of the anti-Stalinist Left within the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.[3] In a 1991 interview,[4] International Brigade veteran Walter Janka recalled, "While I was fighting at the front, shooting at the Fascists, Mielke served in the rear, shooting Trotskyites and Anarchists."[5]

Following the end of World War II in 1945, Mielke returned to the Soviet Zone of Occupied Germany, which he helped organize into a Marxist–Leninist satellite state under the Socialist Unity Party (SED), later becoming head of the Stasi.[6] The Stasi under Mielke has been called by historian Edward Peterson the "most pervasive police state apparatus ever to exist on German soil".[7] In a 1993 interview with John Koehler, Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal said that, if one considers only the oppression of their own people, the Stasi under Mielke was "much, much worse than the Gestapo".[8] During the 1950s and 1960s, Mielke led the process of forcibly forming collectivised farms from East Germany's family-owned farms, which sent a flood of refugees to West Germany. In response, Mielke oversaw the 1961 construction of the Berlin Wall and co-signed standing orders for the Border Guards to use lethal force against all East Germans who attempted to commit "desertion of the Republic."

Simon Wiesenthal also called East Germany the most antisemitic and anti-Israel regime in the whole Soviet Bloc. Wiesenthal further accused the Stasi under Mielke of refusing to assist Nazi hunters and instead routinely using blackmail to force unprosecuted Nazi war criminals to become spies for the G.D.R.[9]

Throughout the Cold War, Mielke also oversaw the establishment of other pro-Soviet police states throughout the Third World. Mielke covertly trained and armed Far-left guerrillas and terrorist organizations aimed at violent regime change in Western Europe, Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Due to his close ties to former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, John Koehler has accused Mielke and the Stasi military advisors he assigned to Ethiopia under the Derg of complicity in the Red Terror, genocide, and many other crimes against humanity.

In addition to his role as head of the Stasi, Mielke was also an Army General in the National People's Army (Nationale Volksarmee), and a member of the SED's ruling Politburo. Dubbed "The Master of Fear"[10] (German: der Meister der Angst) by the West German press, Mielke was one of the most powerful and most hated men in East Germany.[11]

After German reunification in 1990, Mielke was prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for the 1931 policemen's murders. A second murder trial for the 260 killings of defectors at the Inner German border was adjourned after Mielke was ruled not mentally competent to stand trial. Mielke was also charged, but never tried, with ordering two 1981 terrorist attacks by the Baader-Meinhof Group against United States military personnel in West Germany. Released from incarceration early due to ill health and senile dementia in 1995, Mielke died in a Berlin nursing home in 2000.

  1. ^ Schmidt, Arthur. "Volkskammer der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik 1986-1990, Seite 34" (PDF). Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  2. ^ John O. Koehler, The Stasi; The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police, page 51.
  3. ^ Koehler (1999), pages 48, 416–417.
  4. ^ Koehler (1999), pages 416–417.
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference Stasi48 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ Koehler (1999), page 72.
  7. ^ Peterson (2002), page 24.
  8. ^ Koehler (1999), page 8.
  9. ^ Koehler, John O. (1999). Stasi: the untold story of the East German secret police. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3409-8. OCLC 39256274. pp. 26–27.
  10. ^ "Erich Mielke". The Economist. June 2000.
  11. ^ Fitzmaurice, James (26 May 2000). "Obituaries: Erich Mielke". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2017.

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