Erich Honecker (August 25, 1912 – May 29, 1994) was a German Communist politician who led the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1971 until 1989.
After German reunification, Honecker first fled to the Soviet Union but was extradited to Germany by the new Russian government. Back in Germany, he was imprisoned and tried for high treason and crimes committed during the Cold War. In particular, he was indicted for ordering border guards to shoot any person trying to cross the East German border into West Germany or West Berlin. However, during the trial, Honecker became ill with terminal cancer and was subsequently released from prison. He died in exile in Chile about a year and a half later.
Honecker was born on Max-Braun-Straße in Neunkirchen, now Saarland, as the son of a coal miner, Wilhelm, who in 1905 had married Caroline Catharina Weidenhof. There were six children born to the family: Katharina (Käthe), Wilhelm (Willi), Frieda, Erich, Gertrud (b. 1917; m. Hoppstädter), and Karl-Robert.