Sentenced To Live

A Berlin court reluctantly frees the ailing Erich Honecker

BY THE TIME BERLIN'S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT handed down its decision on Tuesday, Erich Honecker had become an object more of pity than of wrath. He was frail, 80, and ravaged by liver cancer that German doctors say will kill him within six months. Prosecution under such circumstances "violates respect for human rights," the court said in releasing him to join his wife Margot in Chile.

Broken and pitiful, perhaps. But Honecker was one of the hardest of the hard-liners who ruled the Soviet bloc before communism collapsed. As East | Germany's security chief, he supervised construction of the Berlin Wall in...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!