Erich Mielke

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Erich Mielke (1976)

Erich Fritz Emil Mielke (born December 28, 1907 in Berlin ; † May 21, 2000 there ) was a German communist politician. From 1946 onwards he was one of the main people in charge of expanding the security organs of the Soviet Zone / GDR into a comprehensive control, monitoring and suppression system . From 1957 until his resignation in 1989, Mielke was Minister for State Security . He was taken into custody several times from the end of 1989, and in 1993 the Berlin Regional Court sentenced him to six years ' imprisonment for the murder of two police officers in 1931 .


Funeral procession for the police officers murdered by Mielke and Ziemer, Berlin, August 1931

Youth and education

Erich Mielke grew up in Berlin-Wedding as the son of a wheelwright in a proletarian environment. The family of six - Mielke had three siblings - lived in a 30-square-meter apartment. His parents were among the founding members of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in 1918 . As a result of a selection of talented students , Mielke received a free place at the Köllnisches Gymnasium in 1923 . He left school after a year due to difficulties in learning the classical languages and then completed an apprenticeship as a freight forwarder until 1927. After completing his training, Mielke last worked for a company belonging to the Siemens group, which fired him in January 1931 because of a labor dispute .

Active KPD member

Mielke had already joined the KJVD in 1921 . According to his own statements, he became a member of the KPD in 1925. Mielke was also a member of the Red Aid and the Red Front Fighters Association (RFB). In the RFB he held the function of "secretary and cultural chairman". Because of participating in a banned KPD demonstration in Leipzig, Mielke served a several-day administrative sentence in the police prison on Alexanderplatz in 1930 . Having become unemployed, he was employed by the communist Rote Fahne in 1931 , whereby a job as a "local reporter" belongs to the realm of legend. As members of the company founded in 1931 Party self-protection , a paramilitary organized and armed group of the party, committed on 9 August 1931 Mielke and Erich Ziemer , the murders of police officers Paul start and Franz Lenck on the Bülowplatz in Berlin. A few days later, the KPD took the two to the Soviet Union . Mielke later claimed that the Nazi judiciary had sentenced him to death in his absence in 1934 (Bülowplatz). In fact, the proceedings against him had been discontinued by a decision of April 23, 1934 pursuant to Section 205 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before the main proceedings were opened , as it was not possible to get hold of him.

After fleeing to the Soviet Union and during the Spanish Civil War

In Moscow he received political and military training at the Lenin School from 1932 to 1936 and fought under the code name Fritz Leissner in the Spanish Civil War in the International Brigades from 1936 to 1939 . Most recently in the rank of captain , Mielke stated that he was primarily a staff member in the guided tours of the XI. and XIV. Brigade as well as duties as "Kaderoffizier" ( political officer ) in the 27th division. Among other things, he was responsible for implementing the Stalinist purges in these units. Walter Janka , like other Spanish fighters, is said to testify "... to have seen Erich Mielke as an officer of the SIM, the Stalinist secret police in Spain" (Servicio de Investigación Militar).

Wanted poster from September 1933 showing Mielke (above right) and others (including Walter Ulbricht below left) because of the double murder of August 9, 1931.

In the final phase of the Spanish Civil War, Mielke went via the Pyrenees to France in February 1939 , where he was initially interned with other interbrigadists , but then went to Belgium in May 1939 after contacting the KPD leadership . Contrary to a legend he later spread, Mielke stayed in Belgium under his real name and was not expatriated from Germany . The Berlin public prosecutor's office waived an extradition request for Mielke. She saw the police murders as a "political crime", for which the extradition treaty with Belgium did not allow extradition.

In World War II

Under the alias Gaston , Mielke was co-editor of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, intended for Germany and illegally distributed by the KPD in the border area with Belgium until February 1940, until the months after the outbreak of the Second World War . The German invasion caused the Belgian government in May 1940 to deport all German nationals to French internment camps.

Mielke came to the Cyprien camp at the end of May 1940 , from which he fled to Toulouse in August 1940 . Mielke probably found shelter in a French work detachment for foreigners in September 1940. In the summer of 1941 Mielke took on another identity as "Richard Hebel" and asked the KPD functionary Willi Kreikemeyer in Marseille for help with the journey to Mexico and material support that he received. After German troops occupied southern France as a result of the Americans landing in North Africa in November 1942, the Marseille émigré scene dissolved. However, later contacts between the KPD group in Toulouse, where Mielke called himself Leisner, and the party leadership in Moscow are guaranteed. In March 1943, the KPD chairman Wilhelm Pieck , who had deciphered the pseudonym, telegraphed from there : “Leisner security because of the Bülowplatz matter”.

From January 1944 Mielke belonged to the National Socialist Organization Todt , which deployed prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates in the occupied state territories to build military installations. In December 1944 he returned to Germany with the Todt Organization. In his heavily falsified and embellished biography from 1951, he disguised his inglorious activities for the Todt organization as an activity in a "workers' company". In one of Mielke's steel cupboards there was a small red suitcase with documents that could have defamed the longtime East German head of state Erich Honecker.

Political career in the Soviet Zone / GDR

Erich Honecker congratulates Erich Mielke (right) on the 30th anniversary of the Ministry for State Security, February 1980
Erich Mielke in his constituency 36, Halle district, together with cooperative farmers from the ZGE Milchproduktion Nessa, May 1981

Mielke immediately became head of the Berlin-Lichtenberg police station in the Soviet sector . In addition, he was assigned the function of department head for police and justice in the central committee of the KPD . Since April 1946, he was a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) from July 1946 to Vice President of the German Administration of the Interior (DVdI), which was renamed the Ministry of the Interior when the GDR was founded, and within which he was the main administration for protection from May 1949 the economy was building.

When the Ministry for State Security (MfS, "Stasi") was founded in February 1950, Wilhelm Zaisser was appointed minister and Erich Mielke, along with Joseph Gutsche and others, one of his deputies with the rank of State Secretary . In the same year he also became a member of the Central Committee of the SED . The trial against the West German KPD member of the Bundestag Kurt Müller was largely prepared by Mielke. After the events of June 17, 1953 , Zaisser was deposed and Ernst Wollweber took over the management of the MfS. In 1957, Walter Ulbricht dismissed Wollweber at his request, and Mielke was appointed head of the MfS. He held this position until November 7, 1989. At the time Mielke took office, the authority had around 14,000 full-time employees, and at the end of 1989 91,000.

From 1958 to 1989 Mielke was a member of the People's Chamber .

From 1971 Mielke became a candidate and from 1976 a full member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the SED . From 1960 to 1989 he was a member of the National Defense Council of the GDR (NVR) , from 1980 army general .

From 1953 to 1989 he was the first chairman of the Dynamo sports association . From 1957 to 1989 he was a member of the board of the German Gymnastics and Sport Federation (DTSB) of the GDR and a member of the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sport of the GDR .

Resignation, condemnation and death

On November 7, 1989, Mielke resigned together with the entire Stoph government , and the following day together with the entire Politburo of the Central Committee of the SED. His parliamentary mandate was revoked on November 17th. On 3 December 1989 Mielke was from the SED ruled on December 7, 1989, he came under the charge of "harming the economy" and "high treason by anti-constitutional actions" in custody . On February 2, 1990, he was brought to the detention hospital of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen remand prison, from which he was released on March 8, 1990 for health reasons. In July of the same year, he was arrested again after the People's Police Hospital had confirmed that he could be detained, among other charges for “crimes against humanity” and “perverting the law”. First he was taken to a West Berlin hospital, then to the Rummelsburg detention center in East Berlin and then to Plötzensee . On October 4, 1990, at the request of his lawyer, Mielke was transferred to the Moabit JVA because of poor prison conditions , where he remained for a long time.

In the meantime, the investigation focused on Mielke's involvement in the police murder on Bülowplatz in 1931. The Nazi judiciary had initiated criminal proceedings against Mielke in 1934 for the double murder. The Berlin Regional Court initially set it because Mielke was on the run. In a large-scale process of investigation in June 1934, among other things was to resume Max Matern convicted of his involvement in the double murder to death and executed, and also accused accomplice and later major general of the Stasi Erich Wichert to 15 years in prison convicted. After the end of the Second World War, the public prosecutor's office in the four-sector city of Berlin again issued an arrest warrant for Mielke for the same reason, but the Soviet occupying power confiscated the case files. After the dissolution of the GDR, the Berlin Regional Court opened the main proceedings against Mielke in November 1991 because of the “Bülowplatz” matter. Mielke was charged with murder. The trial, which ran from February 10, 1992 to October 26, 1993, ended with his conviction of murder and six years ' imprisonment . The small punishment for a murder was explained by the fact that there was more than 60 years between the act and the judgment. At the end of 1995, Mielke was released on parole at the age of 88 after serving more than two thirds of the six years.

Mielke was charged as a member of the National Defense Council of the GDR and therefore jointly responsible for the order to shoot at the Berlin Wall and the inner-German border . The court proceedings , in which other members of the GDR government had to answer, were opened on November 13, 1992 before the 27th Chamber of the Berlin Regional Court, but because the defendant was incapable of standing, the proceedings against Mielke were separated from the main proceedings and finally dropped.

Erich Mielke died on May 21, 2000 in a nursing home in Berlin-Neu-Hohenschönhausen . After being cremated in the Meißen crematorium , he found his final resting place on June 6th at his own request in an unnamed urn grave in the Friedrichsfelde central cemetery .

Private life

Mielke married the seamstress Gertrud Müller (1909–2003) on December 18, 1948; three months after the birth of their son Frank (1948–2019). This became a full-time employee in the medical service of the MfS. After its end, he ran an internal medicine group practice in Berlin with his wife, who was also a member of the MfS . The foster daughter Inge Haller (* 1946), married Knappe, became an officer in 1982 , her husband Norbert was a full-time employee of the MfS. The BFC Dynamo was Mielke's favorite football club.


Work and reception


On November 13, 1989, Mielke spoke to the GDR People's Chamber with the words:

"I love - I love everyone - all people - Well, I love - I'm committed to it."

Mielke's words, which were greeted with loud laughter, are, ironically pointed, among the most frequently quoted at the time of the fall of the wall : “I love you all”.

His statement was preceded - after Mielke continuously addressed the entirety of the MPs as “comrades” during his stammering remarks - the interjection of the CDU member of the People's Chamber Dietmar Czok : “I ask you to finally take care: Not only comrades sit in this chamber!” That Mielke dismissed (see Wikiquote quotations) as a "formal question", whereupon loud laughter arose in which he, already very insecure, spoke the much-quoted sentence.

The historian Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk wrote about this speech contrary to the conventional public interpretation: “The spontaneous exclamation, 'I love all people ...' ', which is almost always overlooked, was aimed solely at the MPs and was a reaction to it, whether he addresses them as 'comrades' or not. With his speech he wanted to point out to the MPs, who were allied until a few minutes ago, that in the last few months and years his ministry had presented realistic analyzes of the social situation to the SED leadership in close succession and repeatedly pointed out that if the previous politics the system got into existential difficulties. (…) The real scandal that day was not Mielke's appearance, but how most of the 477 close followers present treated him and wanted to declare themselves “clean men”. The debate was then broken off. "

Mielke saw himself as a humanist :

“We are not immune, unfortunately, that a villain can still be among us, we are not immune, unfortunately. If I knew that now, he would no longer be alive tomorrow. Very brief [he] process. But because I'm a humanist, that's why I have such views. Better to save millions of people from death than to let them live like a bandit, who then brings us the dead. [... incomprehensible ...] explain why you have to be so tough, [and] all the ramblings about 'don't execute' and 'not death sentence', everything is cheese ', comrades. Execute the people without cheap sentences, without jurisdiction and so on. "

- Erich Mielke : Original sound, reproduced in MDR / ARTE : Everyday life of an authority - The Ministry for State Security : 1982, excerpt from a Stasi tape record, at a conference of senior Stasi officers, with reference to Werner Stiller's escape

Mielke's views on the " illegal border crossing " and the border regime are characteristic:

“I want to tell you something at all, comrades, if you are already shooting, then you have to do it in such a way that the person in question does not get away, but then he has to stay with us. Yes, that's the way it is. What is that: firing 70 shots and he runs over there and they do a huge campaign. "

- Erich Mielke : Original sound, reproduced in ZDF : Goodbye DDR , Part 2 Mielke and freedom

“Leistner is Mielke” - Willi Kreikemeyer's unexplained disappearance

In connection with the campaign for the "invented spy" Noel Field , a paradoxical situation arose in 1950 in which the declared admirer of Stalin , "old Chekist " and "student of Beria " Erich Mielke himself could have become a victim of Stalinism .

Noel Field had supported anti-fascist emigrants in Switzerland . His "exposure" as a spy was the starting point for political show trials against the suspicious emigrants from the West. Willi Kreikemeyer , now head of the Deutsche Reichsbahn , had been a close employee of Field. During an interrogation by the Central Party Control Commission (ZPKK) on June 5, 1950, Kreikemeyer reported on a list of aliases of beneficiaries Fields, with the alias Leistner saying: "Leistner is Mielke".

Theoretically, the correctness of this information should have had serious disadvantages for Mielke: Anyone who claimed to have returned to Germany with the “glorious Soviet army”, but in fact had contact with an American spy in Western exile, must be a traitor. But not Mielke, but Kreikemeyer was taken into custody by the Stasi on August 25th. Mielke, who was officially aware of the ZPKK protocol, visited him in his cell and promised him an early release - he just had to write down everything he knew. This written confession, which has survived to this day, is Kreikemeyer's last sign of life. Kreikemeyer's wife was informed seven years later, after her 37th written question, that her husband had hanged himself in his cell shortly after his arrest. It has not been proven and “rather improbable” that Mielke had Kreikemeyer murdered as the man who could be dangerous to him.

Obituary by Peter Schneider in the New York Times

The New York Times published on January 7, 2001 the obituary of the writer Peter Schneider for Mielke. Title "The Lives They Lived [...] The Enemy Within". Schneider begins with the statement that if one wanted to name a single name as a prototype for "all the horror and suffering of the former GDR, it would be Erich Mielke". Incidentally, Mielke was “not a good speaker, he could not write well and had no talent for making friends. Almost all of his hundred thousand subordinates feared him. ”Mielke managed to“ poison a whole society, let the husband spy on his wife, the brother the brother, the child the parents. ”Schneider ends with the sentence:“ Just before he died , visitors found him alone in his apartment when he made a call on a logged off phone. He shouted orders to invisible agents: They should find his dog, Airen. But his wife had given the animal away and moved out herself. "

The Ministry of State Security

The main building of the MfS headquarters, Berlin-Lichtenberg, Normannenstrasse (2005)

The state security, popularly known as the “Stasi”, grew under Mielke's responsibility into all areas of society, and even in private life nobody could be safe from spying and betrayal. The case of Vera Lengsfeld ( Member of the Bundestag from 1990 to 2005 ), who was spied on by her husband, became particularly well known . Another prominent victim was Robert Havemann , who was temporarily monitored by around 100 Stasi employees.

In 1989 the MfS employed around 91,000 full-time and 173,000 unofficial employees (IM).

In 1976 Mielke gave the order to the HA I, External Defense Department, to arrest or kill Michael Gartenschläger from Hamburg . Gartenschläger had dismantled the self-firing systems (“fragmentation mines SM-70”), which was contrary to international law, from a border fence of the GDR in 1976 and thus denounced the GDR leadership internationally. On April 30, 1976, Michael Gartenschläger was shot dead by a Stasi special unit.


  • Socialism and peace - the meaning of our struggle. Selected speeches and essays. Dietz-Verlag, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-320-01159-6 .



Web links

Commons : Erich Mielke  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. On childhood and youth, see Otto (Lit.), pp. 13–15.
  2. ^ Ludwig Niethammer: The career of a German Stalinist
  3. ↑ On this Otto, p. 18f.
  4. Otto, pp. 20–28.
  5. On Mielke's claim Otto, p. 93, with evidence; on the judgments p. 44, with evidence. See also BGH 5 StR 434/94 - judgment of March 10, 1995 (LG Berlin) .
  6. ^ Ludwig Niethammer: The career of a German Stalinist to the death of Erich Mielke, World Socialist Website . August 16, 2000. Retrieved February 12, 2014
  7. Wilfriede Otto, p. 82, not expatriated, p. 86, there also the rest
  8. ^ The documents, once with the real name Erich Mielke in facsimile with Wolfgang Kießling: Leistner is Mielke. Shadow of a fake biography. (Lit.), pp. 60f. and 63
  9. Otto, p. 89, with evidence
  10. Topic: Mielke's "Red Suitcase" The Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (BStU).
  11. In this function Mielke is mentioned for the first time in the press of the Eastern Zone. On July 9 and 10, 1948, he was a speaker at a conference of interior ministers and placed particular emphasis on the "fight against slide and saboteurs of the economy" and a "consolidation of discipline in the People's Police". Quoted in Neues Deutschland from July 14, 1948, p. 1
  12. ^ Regina Haunhorst, Irmgard Zündorf: Biography Erich Mielke. In: LeMO biographies, Living Museum Online, German Historical Museum Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  13. The following presentation is based on Otto, pp. 486–493 and Bästlein, pp. 96f.
  14. ^ Helmut Roewer , Stefan Schäfer, Matthias Uhl: Lexicon of secret services in the 20th century . Herbig, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7766-2317-9 , p. 495.
  15. On the process, see Bästlein (Lit.), pp. 96–98 and Otto, pp. 488–497
  16. BGH 5 StR 434/94 - judgment of March 10, 1995
  17. ^ Report in the Bild-Zeitung, accessed on July 9, 2012
  18. Wilfriede Otto: Erich Mielke - biography. The rise and fall of a chekist. Dietz, Berlin 2000, pp. 108, 355.
  19. ^ "Everyone knows nothing" , Der Spiegel 11/1995 of March 13, 1995.
  20. Erich Mielke - Meister der Angst, docudrama by Jens Becker & Maarten van der Duin, 2015, , accessed on February 21, 2019.
  21. , accessed on February 21, 2019.
  22. Life data of Frank Mielkes (* September 20, 1948; † March 12, 2019) after the obituary notice in the Berliner Zeitung on April 4th / 5th. May 2019, p. 14.
  23. ^ Mielke's favorite club before the end of October 1, 2001.
  24. Snapshot - Head of State Security Erich Mielke - 20 years , Deutsche Welle TV, accessed: April 12, 2012
  25. ^ Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk : Endgame: The 1989 revolution in the GDR . Beck, Munich 2015, pp. 481–483.
  26. For the preparation of the trial, see Hermann Weber : Show trial preparations ibn der DDR . In: Hermann Weber, Ulrich Mählert (Ed.): Terror. Stalinist party purges 1936–1953 . Schöningh, Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, Zurich 1998, ISBN 3-506-75335-5 , pp. 459-485; General information on the process: Wolfgang Kießling : Leistner is Mielke (lit.).
  27. Peter Erler : Death in the custody of the State Security . In: Zeitschrift des Forschungsverbund SED-Staat , No. 38 (2015), pp. 65–87, here p. 67 f.
  28. ^ Peter Schneider: The Lives They Lived: 01-07-01: Erich Mielke, b. 1907; The Enemy Within . In: The New York Times . January 7, 2001, ISSN  0362-4331 ( [accessed December 24, 2019]).
  29. Book about the film: Birgit Rasch , Gunnar Dedio : Ich. Erich Mielke: Psychogram of the head of the GDR secret service. Sutton, Erfurt 2015, ISBN 978-3-95400-555-0 .