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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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Modern technologies strengthen our economic potential and at the same time offer many workers an interesting field for creative work and personal development. This applies to the younger generation especially. Is it not one of our republic’s greatest achievements that all young people here, without exception, have a future? That they do not have to loiter on the streets without training, hang on the needle of drug addiction, or vegetate without a roof over their heads. “Trust and responsibility for the young”: That is our better world. Anyone seeking a fulfilled life will quickly recognize the false glitter shining on the other side for that which it truly is.

Participating in the race against time in modern production requires considerable strength and means taking risks – and one is not immune to making occasional errors in uncharted territory. Structural changes and tensions go along with this. But where in the world would the scientific, technological revolution be accomplished without a hitch? We will solve our problems ourselves, though, with our socialist means. Advice that would lead to the weakening of socialism will not get anywhere with us. Mass unemployment, homelessness, lack of social protection – all of which accompany modern technology in the FRG – do not exist here now and won’t in the future. It is a perversion of human rights when one-third, one-fourth, or whatever proportion of the population is shunned and excluded. The scientific, technological revolution is being implemented here by us along with social protection and is, to use Karl Marx’s words, one of the wellsprings of social wealth.

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We have set priorities in our social policies that correspond to the nature of our Workers’ and Farmers’ State. Our resources were concentrated on satisfying the basic needs of the people. Certainly, it is not possible to solve every problem at the same time, because as everyone knows, a mark can only be spent once. As performance continues to grow, our options will increase as well.

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Our deepening cooperation with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Comecon is a firm foundation for our economic strategy.* In my meetings with our friend and comrade Mikhail Gorbachev over the past years, options for the division of labor and cooperation were further sounded out and corresponding practical steps were introduced. And so we are able to register that precisely in the area of high technology, which has such great significance for the future, closer and more effective cooperation than ever before is now developing. This makes us very happy.

Cooperation with the Soviet Union also involves the millions of meetings between citizens of the two countries. Who does not remember the fascinating “special” encounter between Sigmund Jähn and Valeri Bykovsky that occurred in 1978 as the two were in orbit? Thanks to our friendship, the first German in outer space was a citizen of the GDR. Likewise, this event should not be omitted from a look back at forty years of the GDR.

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On the basis of increasing economic achievements we will continue our social policy, wherein residential housing construction is a top priority. At the same time, we will dedicate more attention to the need for consumer goods and services, which is becoming increasingly differentiated. Of course, crafts and trades have their place in all these steps and will be promoted.

* The Council of Mutual Economic Assistance [Comecon] was the Soviet bloc counterpart to the European Economic Community, i.e., an attempt at establishing a transnational market – eds.

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