Egon Krenz (b March 19th 1937) is a former German Communist politician, who briefly served as leader of East Germany in 1989 before Communism in East Germany collapsed.
Krenz was born in Kolberg in what is now Poland, and was resettled in Damgarten in 1944, when Germans were expelled from Poland following World War Two.
He joined the SED (East German Communist Party) in 1955. Throughout his career, Krenz held a number of senior posts in the Communist Party, joining the politburo in 1983.
Following popular protests against East Germany's Communist regime, long-serving leader Erich Honecker was forced to resign on October 18th 1989. On October 24th Krenz was drafted in as his replacement.
Krenz promised to introduce democratic reforms, but events soon spiralled out of control. He unintentionally presided over the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989, which was caused by a misunderstood press briefing by one of his ministers. This quickly led to a mass exodus and then the collapse of the Communist state.
He resigned as leader on December 7th 1989. In a desperate attempt to improve its image, the Communist party stripped him of his party membership in 1990.
In 1997, Krenz was sentenced to 6 1/2 years imprisonment, for the deaths of people who tried to cross the Berlin wall. He was released in 2003 after only serving three years of it.
To this day, Krenz is one of the few former Communist politicians who continues to defend the former East Germany.