Born Mar. 11, 1894, in Braunschweig; died Sept. 21, 1964, in Berlin. Figure in the German workers’ movement. Politician and statesman of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
By profession Grotewohl was a printer. He completed the eighth grade. During 1924–26 he studied at the Leibniz Academy in Hanover, and during 1926–30 he audited courses at the Higher Political School and the Higher Commercial School in Berlin as well as at the University of Berlin. In 1908 he joined the organization of socialist worker youths in Braunschweig, and in 1910 he became its chairman, fighting actively against militarism. Grotewohl joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1912, and between 1914 and 1918 he served in the army, condemning the traitorous policy of the leadership of the Social Democratic Party.
In 1918, Grotewohl joined the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, and in 1922 he rejoined the Social Democratic Party, subsequently belonging to its left wing. From 1919 to 1921 he was an employee of a municipal insurance office. Grotewohl was a deputy in the Landtag of the state of Braunschweig during 1920–25, minister of internal affairs and public education during 1921–22, and minister of justice of the Braunschweig government during 1923–24. From 1925 to 1933 he was a deputy to the German Reichstag from the Social Democratic Party. At the same time, he was the chairman of the Social Democratic organization in Braunschweig, and during 1925–33 he was the president of the Braunschweig state insurance company. In 1933, after the Nazis seized power, Grotewohl was removed from his job. He took an active part in the illegal antifascist struggle. Arrested on an accusation of state treason in 1938, he was imprisoned until March 1939. In November he was arrested again on suspicion of conspiracy against Hitler, and for four months he was under investigation. After his release he continued his antifascist activities. During 1940–45 he worked in one of the Berlin construction offices.
After the defeat of the fascist regime in Germany, Grotewohl began taking an active part in the revived Social Democratic Party of Germany. In 1945 he was elected chairman of the Central Board of the Social Democratic Party. He fought for the unity of the German workers’ movement. In 1946, with the immediate and active participation of Grotewohl, the Communist Party of Germany and the Social Democratic Party of Germany were united as the Socialist United Party of Germany in the eastern part of Germany. At the unification congress in April 1946, Grotewohl was elected to the Central Board of the Socialist United Party, and he and W. Pieck became its chairmen. From 1946 he was a member of the Central Secretariat of the Board of the Socialist United Party of Germany, in 1949 a member of the Politburo of the Central Board, and later a member of the Politburo of the party’s Central Committee. After the proclamation of the German Democratic Republic on Oct. 7, 1949, he became the prime minister of the GDR. From 1947, Grotewohl was a member of the permanent committee of the German People’s Congress for Unity and a Just Peace, and during 1948–49 he was a member of the German People’s Council. He was the chairman of the Constitutional Commission of the People’s Council, which worked out the first constitution of the GDR (1949).
From 1950, Grotewohl was a member of the National Council of the National Front, and in September 1960 he became one of the deputy chairmen of the State Council of the GDR. Grotewohl repeatedly made statements and constructive proposals that reflected the consistent struggle of the GDR for democracy and socialism, for strengthening friendship with the Soviet Union and other socialist nations, against the rebirth of militarism and revanchism in the Federal Republic of Germany, and for peace and security in Europe. Grotewohl was awarded the Order of Karl Marx and three gold orders for services to the fatherland. He received the title of Hero of Labor of the GDR three times (1954, 1959, 1964), and he was also awarded the Order of Lenin.
WORKSIm Kampf um die einige Deutsche Demokratische Republik: Reden und Aufsätze, vols. 1–6. Berlin, 1959–64.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. proizv. (1945–1960). Moscow, 1966.
V. I. TSAPANOV