Hans Watzek was born in Czechoslovakia in 1932. After the end of the war, his family was resettled in the Soviet Occupation Zone in East Germany. There he witnessed the land reform in 1945/46. After helping out on his family’s farm, he studied agricultural sciences in Potsdam. In the 1960s he first worked as an assistant in a machine tractor station (MTS) and in 1965 became chairman of an agricultural production cooperative (LPG) in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
In 1950 Watzek joined the Democratic Peasants’ Party of Germany (DBD) and in 1963 became a member of the party executive committee and a member of the DDR’s People’s Chamber (“Volkskammer”). From November 1989 to April 1990 he was Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Foodstuffs in Hans Modrow’s government. After the end of the DDR, Watzek was a member of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and joined the Council of Elders of the succeeding party, DIE LINKE.