Hans Modrow

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Hans Modrow
DIE LINKE Bundesparteitag Mai 2014 Modrow, Hans.jpg
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
In office
13 November 1989 – 12 April 1990
PresidentEgon Krenz
Manfred Gerlach
Sabine Bergmann-Pohl (acting)
DeputyLothar de Maizière
Christa Luft
Peter Moreth
Preceded byWilli Stoph
Succeeded byLothar de Maizière
Member of the European Parliament
In office
20 July 1999 – 19 July 2004
Member of the Bundestag
In office
3 October 1990 – 1994
Personal details
Born (1928-01-27) 27 January 1928 (age 90)
Jasenitz, Province of Pomerania, Free State of Prussia, Weimar Republic
(now Jasienica, Poland)
Political partyThe Left
Other political
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Party of Democratic Socialism
Spouse(s)Annemarie Straubing (d. 2003)
Children2 daughters

Hans Modrow (German pronunciation: [ˈhans ˈmoːdʁo]; born 27 January 1928)[1] is a German politician, best known as the last communist premier of East Germany. He currently is the honorary Chairman of the Left Party.[2][needs update]

Early life and education[edit]

Modrow was born in Jasenitz, Province of Pomerania, Germany, now Jasienica part of the town of Police, Poland. He briefly served in the Volkssturm, founded in 1944 by Adolf Hitler, and was subsequently held as a prisoner of war. Upon release in 1949, he joined the Socialist Unity Party (SED). Modrow had a long political career in East Germany, including periods as a member of the Volkskammer. From 1973 onward, he was the SED leader in Dresden, East Germany's third-largest city.


Modrow was prevented from rising any further than a local party boss, largely because he was one of the few SED leaders who dared to publicly criticise longtime SED chief Erich Honecker. Nonetheless, he developed some important contacts with the Soviet Union, including eventual Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. When Honecker was toppled in October 1989, Gorbachev hoped that Modrow would become the new leader of the SED. Egon Krenz, however, was selected instead.[3] He became premier following the resignation of Willi Stoph on 13 November 1989. After Krenz's resignation as leader of the SED on 3 December, Modrow became the de facto leader of East Germany. The SED, which later changed its name to the Party of Democratic Socialism, had abandoned power two days earlier. Modrow remained premier until the elections on 18 March 1990.

After the German reunification, Modrow served as a member of the European Parliament (1999–2004)[4] and of the Bundestag. In 1993 the German Federal Court found Modrow guilty of electoral fraud committed in the Dresden municipal elections in May 1989, specifically, understating the percentage of voters who refused to vote for the official slate.[5] (East Germany did not hold free elections until March 1990, and the outcome of any given election was never in doubt.) The judge declined to impose a prison sentence or a fine.[5] However, the court revoked its decision in 1995 and Modrow was sentenced to nine months on probation.[6][7] Modrow did not directly deny the charges, but argued that the trial was politically motivated and that the court lacked jurisdiction for crimes committed in East Germany. "We were all members of a political system," he said, speaking to the court in Dresden. "Some perhaps had the good fortune not to come into contact with manipulation, while others could not or were not allowed to turn away."[5]

Since leaving office, Modrow has authored a number of books on his political experiences, his continued Marxist political views and his disappointment at the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc.[8][9]


  1. ^ Profile of Hans Modrow
  2. ^ "West German Secret Service Opens GDR Files". Der Spiegel. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  3. ^ Sebetsyen, Victor (2009). Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire. New York City: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-375-42532-2.
  4. ^ "Hans Modrow". European Parliament MEPs. European Parliament. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Kinzer, Stephen (1993-05-28). "Ex-East German Leader Convicted Of Vote Fraud but Not Punished". New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  6. ^ (in German) Urteil: Bewährungsstrafe für Hans Modrow Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. 10 May 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  7. ^ (in German) Modrow, Hans Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Perestroika and Germany: the truth behind the myths". Amazon. Artery Publications with Marx Memorial Library. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Aufbruch und Ende". Amazon. Edition Berolina. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
Political offices
Preceded by
Willi Stoph
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic
Succeeded by
Lothar de Maizière