Thursday, December 3, 2015
Ernst Rudolf Johannes Reuter (1889 –1953) was the German mayor of West Berlin from 1948 to 1953, during the time of the Cold War.
Reuter opposed Kaiser Wilhelm's regime at the start of the First World War. After getting drafted, Reuter was wounded and captured by Russians during the Bolshevik Revolution. In captivity, Reuter joined the Bolsheviks and organized his fellow prisoners into a soviet. In 1917, Lenin sent him to Saratov in the to-be-established Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
Upon his return to Germany, Reuter joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and was named the First Secretary of its Berlin section. From 1931 until 1933, Reuter was the mayor of Magdeburg where he fought lack of housing and jobs due to the economic crisis. He also was elected as a member of the Reichstag. In 1933, with the Nazis now in power, he was forced to abdicate his positions and was brought to the concentration camp (KZ) Lichtenburg near Torgau. After his release, he went into exile in Turkey in 1935 where he stayed until the end to the Nazi era.
In 1947 he was elected Lord Mayor (Oberbürgermeister) of Berlin but in the deepening crisis of the Cold War, the Soviet government withheld their necessary consent. Reuter is most notable for his stance during the Cold War in Berlin. During the Soviet-imposed Berlin Blockade (1948/49), the western part of city was sustained by the Berlin airlift.
A few weeks after the uprising of 17 June 1953 in East Berlin, Reuter died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack in West Berlin at the age of 64. His funeral was attended by more than 1 million people.
Reuters was buried with his (Codeba) beret, pictured here on top of his coffin.