Walter Ulbricht was a German communist politician. He played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and later (spending the years of Nazi rule in exile in the Soviet Union) in the early development and establishment of East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). He was first secretary of the Socialist Unity Party, and as such the actual leader of East Germany, from 1950 to 1971. From President Wilhelm Pieck's death in 1960 he was also the East German head of state until his own death in 1973. Ulbricht was also the mentor of Erich Honecker who would succeed him.