GHDI logo
German History in Documents and Images
return to system

Walter Ulbricht and Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow (c. 1971)
At the end of the 1960s, a self-confident Walter Ulbricht claimed that other socialist countries could take the GDR as an example. He also strove to create a larger playing field for himself in the area of inter-German relations. Additionally, Ulbricht made a claim to greater autonomy vis-à-vis Leonid Brezhnev, who had replaced Nikita Khrushchev as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in October 1964. This last move, in particular, was viewed critically in Moscow. When the GDR began to confront economic difficulties, the Soviets backed Erich Honecker in his successful attempt to unseat Ulbricht, who was eventually forced to step down on May 3, 1971. Photo by Herbert Fiebig.