Walther Ulbricht – The papers of the wall builder

“No one intends to build a wall.” This sentence has gone down in history. It was uttered in 1961 by GDR head of state Walter Ulbricht (1893-1973). 56 years later, unique documents from the life of the “wall builder” were sold under the hammer in Hamburg. Walther Ulbricht papers wall

Honecker, Mielke, Stoph, and, most recently, the GDR currency procurer Alexander Shalck-Golodkovsky: a Hamburg auctioneer has a knack for the estates of GDR greats. In October 2017, he was auctioning documents of Walter Ulbricht. The offer has a historical rank. Thus, his membership card (No. 2!) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) from 1945 is offered at the exclamation price of 1000 euros. The membership card of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) from 1946 is estimated at 500 euros. It has the signature Ulbricht’s, as the occupation is indicated: “Party worker”. The tattered identity card of the party leader from 1945 has the same fingerprint and signature. Walther Ulbricht papers wall

Walther Ulbricht papers wall
Identity card of the party leader from 1945

More curious than historically significant is the free ticket for the Deutsche Reichsbahn for Ulbricht, a member of the state parliament, from 1947 and an annual ticket for the Hoppegarten racetrack. Of interest to historians are documents belonging to Ulbricht’s wife Lotte. In 1937, under Stalin’s regime of terror, she had to make statements in exile in Moscow about comrades who had also sought protection therefrom Hitler’s henchmen. Walther Ulbricht papers wall

Walther Ulbricht papers wall
Free ticket for the Deutsche Reichsbahn for Ulbricht, an annual ticket for the Hoppegarten racetrack, and his state parliament member ID

She had lived with Ulbricht in Moscow since 1938. However, they were not married until 1953 in the GDR. But even before that, Lotte used the name Ulbricht illegally, since her official name was still Lotte Kühn. A curious letter from Lotte Ulbricht to the chief of the Saxon police from 1946 is now also being auctioned. She asks to be officially called Ulbricht and gives the following reasons for this: “I have had this surname for years and am generally known by it. I have carried the name in good faith…”

Lotte Ulbricht (1903-2002) was Ulbricht’s second wife.

And where do all the objects and documents that are now being auctioned off come from? The auctioneer is silent. According to insider information, they come from the estate of a Berlin communist. Walther Ulbricht papers wall



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