Widow of East German Leader Dies
BERLIN (AP) _ Lotte Ulbricht, widow of the East German leader under whose rule the Berlin Wall was built, has died. She was 98.
Ulbricht died overnight at her home in eastern Berlin’s Pankow district, where top communist party officials once lived, officials of the ex-communist Party of Democratic Socialism said Wednesday on condition of anonymity.
She had lived reclusively since her husband, Walter, died in August 1973, two years after the hard-line Stalinist was replaced as East German leader by Erich Honecker.
Born Lotte Kuehn on April 19, 1903, in Berlin, she joined the German Communist Party at age 18 and rose through its ranks in the 1920s, becoming a member of its central committee.
She worked for the Communist International, or Comintern, in Moscow after leaving Germany in the 1930s and remained in the Soviet capital, where she met her husband, until the end of World War II.
They returned to the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany in 1945. Lotte Ulbricht became a secretary to Walter Ulbricht in East Germany’s ruling Socialist Unity Party, which he led from 1953 to 1971.
Although she had no major political role, Lotte Ulbricht was active in party committees for women’s affairs and ideology.
The couple married in May 1953 _ one month before a workers’ uprising that followed the government’s imposition of a 10 percent increase in production quotas.
Soviet troops called out to put down the uprising killed dozens and arrested thousands of protesters.
In August 1961, Walter Ulbricht’s government caught Berliners and Western governments off guard when it built the Berlin Wall, shutting off migration to the West.
The wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989. Less than a year later, East and West Germany were reunited.
In 1990, she complained in a rare interview that ``Honecker wasted my husband’s inheritance.″ Honecker was ousted a few weeks before the wall came down.
Lotte Ulbricht remained a member of the successor party to the East German communists until her death.
Details of funeral arrangements were not immediately available.