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Erich Honecker Defends the Achievements of Socialism on the 40th Anniversary of the GDR (October 6, 1989)

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Everyone in the GDR has his place, independent of worldview and religion. The humanistic objectives of socialism offer space for everyone to develop his personality. And everyone is also encouraged to participate creatively in our common project for the good of the people.

The development of the German Democratic Republic has always been accompanied by a rich intellectual and cultural life. By building numerous cultural venues, we have created significant additional possibilities. It is our wish and conviction that, inspired by great humanistic ideals, artists will more actively use their talent, ability, and the social opportunities afforded to them to enrich the intellectual life of the people and convey the values of socialism.

[ . . . ]

Forty years of the GDR mark a totally new chapter in the history of our people. At the same time, these forty years have impressed upon our consciousness the absolute necessity and also the preciousness of long-lasting peace. Never again shall war emanate from German soil; this declaration arises from a decisive lesson of the past. It has become our state policy. It has been the top priority behind all we have done up to now and all we will do in the future, so that the socialist GDR continues to thrive and the family of European peoples can live in safety and harmony. Our nation is reliably satisfying its responsibility at the center of the continent, at the division between the two major allied blocs.

[ . . . ]

The relentless, internationally coordinated slander campaign currently being led against the GDR aims to confuse the people and sow doubt regarding the strength and advantages of socialism. This can only serve to strengthen our resolve to continue in the future to do everything possible for a peaceful European house. The ability for states with different social orders to live and work together in such a house should be allowed to develop to the fullest. A solid foundation for this is provided in the final act of the Helsinki Conference as well as other CSCE documents. But we will not allow anyone to abuse these agreements for the purpose of destabilizing socialism. Strict respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, and non-intervention in internal affairs are indispensable.

The GDR has paved its way with achievements serving to strengthen our people in the knowledge of their power and of the worth of all efforts to establish a new, humane, complete life. Socialism and peace are, and remain, key words for that which we have achieved up to now, as well as that which we will continue to accomplish. We tackle the task with vigor and confidence. In its fifth decade, the socialist workers’ and peasants’ state on German soil will continue to prove – through its actions for the good of its people and through its efforts for peace, security and international cooperation – that its founding in October of 1949 was a turning point in the history of the German people and of Europe

Long live the German Democratic Republic on the occasion of its fortieth anniversary!

Source of original German text: The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED and Chairman of the Council of State of the GDR Erich Honecker on the Occasion of the Fortieth Anniversary of the Founding of the GDR, in East Berlin, Neues Deutschland, October 6, 1989. For an English translation of other parts of this document, see: "Erich Honecker on the 40th Anniversary of the Founding of the GDR" (October 6, 1989), in Konrad H. Jarausch and Volker Gransow, eds., Uniting Germany: Documents and Debates, 1944-1993. Translated by Allison Brown and Belinda Cooper. Berghahn Books: Providence and Oxford, 1994, p. 51-53. © Berghahn Books.

Translation: Allison Brown

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