Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Hoffmann, Heinz (1910–1985)

Communist politician and minister of national defense in the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) during 1960–1985. Born in Mannheim, Germany, on 28 November 1910 into a working-class family, Heinz Hoffmann became a mechanic, joined the Communist Party's youth section, and was involved in party activities at a young age. In 1935 he immigrated to the Soviet Union. In the late 1930s he fought in the Spanish Civil War, was wounded, and returned to the USSR. Following the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union, Hoffman was trained by the Soviet intelligence organization (NKVD) in partisan warfare and was subsequently employed in the indoctrination of German prisoners of war.

In January 1946 Hoffmann returned to Germany, where he worked as an assistant to several communist leaders. After the formation of East Germany, he was appointed deputy minister of interior in 1950. In 1955 he entered the Academy of the Soviet General Military Staff in Moscow and graduated in 1957. Appointed deputy minister for national defense in 1958, he advanced to the ministry's top position in 1960 and remained there until his death in 1985.

Hoffmann was a standing member of the East German politburo during 1973–1985. During his last years, alcoholism and charges of corruption diminished his status, and he eventually became only a figurehead. Hoffman died in Berlin on 2 December 1985.

Bernd Schaefer


Further Reading
Hoffmann, Heinz. Mannheim, Madrid, Moskau: Erlebtes aus drei Jahrzehnten. Berlin: Militaerverlag, 1981.; Hoffmann, Heinz. Moskau, Berlin. Erinnerungen an Freunde. Berlin: Militaerverlag, 1989.
 

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