The German Democratic Republic is curtailing official mourning for former Communist Party Leader Walter Ulbricht, who died on Wednesday (1 August).
The German Democratic Republic is curtailing official mourning for former Communist Party Leader Walter Ulbricht, who died on Wednesday (1 August). On his deathbed, the man who led the country since World War Two until stepping down from the post of Party Secretary two years ago asked that the mammoth World Youth Festival currently being held in East Berlin should be continued "if the worst happens".
Nevertheless, the thousands of young people from East and West who are participating in the nine-day gathering are paying their respects with a series of one-minutes silent tributes, and flags on Government and Party buildings are flying at half-mast.
Walter Ulbricht never recovered from a stroke he suffered two weeks ago. He was eighty years old. He will be buried next Tuesday (August 7th) on a day of national mourning -- after the Festival of Youth ends.
SYNOPSIS: In East Berlin, mourning for the late leader Walter Ulbricht is only partial. Flags are being flown at half mast on public buildings, but otherwise the death will not be marked until the funeral next week.
Ulbricht ruled East Germany for a quarter of a century as Communist Party Secretary until two years ago, and was responsible for the erection of the Berlin Wall. He was eighty years old when he died of a stroke.
National mourning has been curtailed at his own request -- to enable the mammoth World Festival of Youth to continue unhindered.
Thousands of young people from both East and West have converged on East Berlin for the nine days of the State-organised Festival.
But even the foreign students will break their merriment to hold one-minute silent memorial tributes to Walter Ulbricht.