- "Die siegreiche Macht rächt sich an den Vertretern der besiegten Macht"
- —Egon Krenz (Translation:The victorious power is revenging itself on the representatives of the defeated power
Egon Krenz is a former politician from East Germany (German Democratic Republic) and was that country's last Communist leader. He succeeded Erich Honecker as leader of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) and head of state in October 1989, but was ousted just under three months later amid the collapse of the communist regime.
Throughout his career, Krenz held a number of prominent positions in the communist regime. He was Honecker's deputy from 1984 onward, until he succeeded Honecker in 1989 amid protests against the regime. Krenz was unsuccessful in his attempt to retain the communist regime's grip on power, and was forced to resign some weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
After the German reunification in 1990 he was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for manslaughter, for his role in the crimes of the regime. Alongside the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev and Poland's Wojciech Jaruzelski, he is one of the last surviving leaders of an Eastern Bloc nation.
Trial and imprisonment
In 1997, Krenz was sentenced to six-and-a-half years imprisonment for Cold War crimes, specifically manslaughter of four Germans attempting to escape the communist regime over the Berlin Wall. He was also charged with electoral fraud, along with other criminal offences.
He appealed, arguing that the legal framework of the newly reunited German state did not apply to events that had taken place in the former GDR. Krenz also argued that the prosecution of former GDR officials was a breach of a personal agreement given by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev during their talks, which led to German reunification. However, the verdict was upheld in 1999. Krenz reportedly described his conviction as "victor's justice" and "cold war in court".
Krenz began serving his sentence in Hakenfelde Prison shortly thereafter, before he was transferred to Plötzensee Prison, a prison with stricter rules.
He was released from prison in December, 2003 after serving nearly four years of his sentence, and quietly retired to Dierhagen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. He remained on parole until the end of his sentence in 2006.
Unlike several other high-ranking members of the communist regime, like Günter Schabowski and Günther Kleiber, Krenz continues to defend the former German Democratic Republic and maintains he hasn't changed his political views. Krenz has on several occasions referred to the German Reunification as "Anschluss" (annexation).