Stoph, Willi

Stoph, Willi vĭlˈē shtôf [key], 1914–99, East German political leader. A member of the German Communist party from 1931, he helped build the East German Socialist Unity (Communist) party after World War II. In 1953 he was named to the party's politburo. Stoph served (1952–55) as minister of internal affairs and (1956–60) as minister for national defense, in which capacity he developed the East German army. After serving as deputy chairman of the council of ministers (1954–64), he became chairman, or prime minister, in 1964. In Mar., 1970, he met with West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and initiated negotiations for a nonaggression treaty and the normalization of relations; it was the first meeting between leaders of East and West Germany. He was replaced (1973) as prime minister by Horst Sindermann and given the ceremonial position of chairman of the Council of State. In 1976 Stoph was reappointed chairman of the council of ministers. He was expelled from the post in 1989, in the midst of unrest that led to the collapse of the Communist dictatorship and the subsequent electoral defeat of the Communist party (Mar., 1990).

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