The man behind the pseudonym Marten Tjaden

He studied in Moscow; his political career began in the 1930s when he became a party official, a position for which he was jailed. He fled to the Netherlands and returned to Berlin with a Dutch passport in 1935 by the pseudonym Marten Tjaden. Arrested by the Gestapo in December 1935 and interned until 1937. The verdict – 10 years jail. During an air ride in 1945, he escaped prison and hid in a female prison guard apartment. After a few days, she persuaded him to report, and the guard then covered up his escape. After the liberation of the prisons by advancing Soviet troops on April 27, 1945, he remained in Berlin. In 1946, he co-founded a youth organization, which he also chaired. The beginning of his political career after the war, which will bring him on top of a party and a country in the upcoming years.

pseudonym Marten Tjaden
Dutch passport 1935 under his pseudonym Marten Tjaden (Inlay: Bundesarchiv, BArch DS 1-F/12)

He served as General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and Chairman of the National Defense Council until succeeding the Chairman of the State Council in 1976. He had tight links to the Soviet Union, which had a large army stationed in East Germany when he was the country’s leader. By now, you might know who I am talking about – Erich Honecker.

Erich Honecker, Diplomatic passport No. D00004

The general public doesn’t know about these details, and as I found a picture of his Dutch passport, I thought it’s an interesting story to tell. Here is Honecker’s biography if you want to know more.

Extract from the original arrest warrant against former GDR Council of State Chairman Erich Honecker and SED politburo members Erich Mielke, Willi Stoph, and Heinz Kessler, dated October 19, 1992, was photographed at the House of History of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn on Monday (09.07.01). In the afternoon, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will open the new permanent exhibition. Photo: Georg Hilgemann/ ddp *** Local Caption *** 00082340 Today, the original document is on display at the House of History in Bonn – the arrest warrant dated October 19, 1992, was directed against former GDR Council of State Chairman Erich Honecker and SED Politburo members Erich Mielke, Willi Stoph and Heinz Kessler.


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