Theodor Hoffmann (admiral)

Theodor Hoffmann
Born (1935-02-27) February 27, 1935
Allegiance GDR - 1990
Service/branch  Volksmarine
Rank Admiral
Commands held
  • People's Navy (Volksmarine)
  • National People's Army
  • Minister of National Defense

Theodor Hoffmann (born February 27, 1935 in Gustävel, Mecklenburg, Germany) is a former East German Admiral who served as the head of the People's Navy (Volksmarine) and as the last Minister of National Defense of the German Democratic Republic and head of the National People's Army.

Early life

Hoffmann worked from 1949 to 1951 in agriculture. From 1951 to 1952, Hoffmann was a Pioneer Leader in the Wismar District Free German Youth (FDJ).

Military career

In 1952 he became a sailor in the Sea Police (Seepolizei). which would later become the East German People's Navy (Volksmarine). He attended the Officers School of the People's Police at Stralsund and joined the Socialist Unity Party of Germany in 1956. Until 1959 he commanded a fast torpedo boat. From 1960 to 1963 he attended the Soviet Naval War Academy in Leningrad earning a diploma in military science. Subsequently, he held various senior positions in the 6th Fleet of the People's Navy. From 1971 to 1974 he was chief of the 6th Fleet with the rank of Frigate Captain. He later became deputy chief of staff for operational work in the People's Navy command. In 1985 he was appointed Deputy Chief of the People's Navy and Chief of Staff. In 1987 was appointed chief of the People's Navy (who is also Deputy Minister of National Defense) in the rank of Vice Admiral (two stars).

He was promoted to Admiral (three stars) and replaced Heinz Kessler as the Minister of National Defense and head of the National People's Army, serving from 18 November 1989 to April 23, 1990. After being selected as the new Minister for National Defense, Hoffmann was told by the outgoing Defense Minister, Army General Heinz Keßler that he was to be promoted to Generaloberst (Colonel-General) in the Army. Hoffmann refused to switch services and obtained approval from Egon Krenz, Erich Honecker’s successor, to remain an Admiral in the People's Navy. After the free elections of 1990, he was succeeded in the ministry by CDU politician Rainer Eppelmann (now called Minister for Disarmament and Defense), but remained commander of the National People's Army in the purely military sense until its disbanding and incorporation into the Bundeswehr.

In 1993 Hoffmann published his reminiscences of last days of the National People's Army, Das letzte Kommando; Ein Minister erinnert sich. In 1995 he published his autobiography Kommando Ostsee; Vom Matrosen zum Admiral. He was awarded many East German orders and medals of including the Fatherland Merit Order in Bronze and the Scharnhorst Order.


Hoffmann married Helga Qualo in October 1957. They had two sons Norbert born in 1958 and Rene born in 1965.


Political offices
Preceded by
Wilhelm Ehm
Chief of the Volksmarine - German Democratic Republic
Succeeded by
Hendrik Born
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