Walter Ulbricht (30 June 1893 - 1 August 1973) 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 establishment of the Socialist Republic of Germany. He was the first Prime Minister of North Germany, serving under the presidency of Ernst Thälmann from 1939 to 1951. From President Thälmann death in 1951, he was also the North German head of state until his own death in 1973. After Ulbricht's death, the Volkstag voted to dissolve the offices of President and Prime Minister, appointing Erich Honecker as Chairman of the newly formed State Council (Ländertag), which was to take on the responsibilities of both the President and Prime Minister.