German politicianDied when: 92 years 145 days (1108 months)
Star Sign: Capricorn
Erich Fritz Emil Mielke (German: [ˈeːʁɪç ˈmiːlkə]; 28 December 1907 – 21 May 2000) was a German communist official who served as head of the East German Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatsicherheit – MfS), better known as the Stasi, from 1957 until shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
A native of Berlin and a second-generation member of the Communist Party of Germany, Mielke was one of two triggermen in the 1931 murders of Berlin Police captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck.
After learning that a witness had survived, Mielke escaped arrest by fleeing to the Soviet Union, where the NKVD recruited him.
He was one of the key figures in the decimation of Moscow's German Communists during the Great Purge as well as in the savage persecution of suspected anti-Stalinists in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.
Following the end of World War II in 1945, Mielke returned to the Soviet Zone of Occupied Germany, which he helped organize into a Marxist-Leninist satellite state under the Socialist Unity Party (SED), later becoming head of the Stasi; according to John Koehler, he was "the longest serving secret police chief in the Soviet Bloc".
The Stasi under Mielke has been called by historian Edward N.Peterson, the "most pervasive police state apparatus ever to exist on German soil".
In a 1993 interview, Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal has said that, if one considers only the oppression of their own people, the Stasi under Mielke "was much, much worse than the Gestapo".
During the 1950s and 1960s Mielke led the process of forcibly forming collectivised farms from East Germany's family-owned farms, which sent a flood of refugees to West Germany.
In response, Mielke oversaw the construction (1961) of the Berlin Wall and co-signed orders to shoot fatally all East Germans who attempted to leave the country.
He also oversaw the establishment of pro-Soviet police states and paramilitary insurgencies in Western Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
In addition to his role as head of the Stasi, Mielke was also an Army General in the National People's Army (Nationale Volksarmee), and a member of the SED's ruling Politburo.
Dubbed "The Master of Fear" (German: der Meister der Angst) by the West German press, Mielke was one of the most powerful and most hated men in East Germany.
After German reunification in 1990, Mielke was prosecuted (1992), convicted, and incarcerated (1993) for the 1931 murders of Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck.Released from prison early due to ill health in 1995, he died in a Berlin nursing-home in 2000.