Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED) (Socialist Unity Party of Germany)
State party of the GDR, founded in 1946 through the forced unification of the SDP (Social Democratic Party) and KPD (German Communist Party). From the summer of 1948, the SED changed to a "party of a new type", in other words, it changed from a mass party of socialist character into a cadre party with a strictly run leadership apparatus, in particular through the establishment of a politburo according to the Soviet role model.
The party chiefs Walter Ulbricht (1950-71) and Erich Honecker (1971-89) had immense dictatorial powers.
In the peaceful revolution of 1989, the SED under the leadership of Egon Krenz was forced to relinquish its claim to leadership. The final party congress of the SED on 16th December 1989 did not lead to a dissolution of the party, but it did attempt to effect a fundamental change.
Under the chairmanship of Gregor Gysi, the party distanced itself in part from its previous ideology and practice. Since 1990, the party calls itself the Partei des demokratischen Sozialismus (PDS - Party of democratic Socialism). In 1991, the PDS as successor of the SED was forced to hand over its assets to trusteeship. In 1993, Lothar Bisky was elected new PDS Chairman.