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No New Wallpaper (April 10, 1987)

In this widely read interview, Kurt Hager, the member of the Politburo in charge of ideological issues, defends the party’s policies and sets them apart from reform efforts in the Soviet Union. The interview was first published in Stern, a West German magazine, and reprinted one day later in full length in Neues Deutschland, the news organ of the SED.

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Kurt Hager answers questions for Stern magazine

Question: The SED leadership supports the reforms introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union. At the same time, the GDR emphasizes its own independence. Are the times in which the land of Lenin set an example for German communists long gone?

Answer: The GDR and the Soviet Union are allies. They have concluded a treaty on friendship, cooperation, and mutual support. There is a firm, indestructible friendship between the people of these two countries, and this finds expression in the direct relations between companies, universities, and other institutions, as well as countless personal meetings. The SED and the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] are sister parties, and they regularly share their experiences with each another, in order to learn from each other. That is how it has been, how it is, and how it will continue to be in the future.

Question: So the slogan “Learning from the Soviet Union means learning to win” no longer applies?

Answer: I remember that Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, said on the occasion of the 11th party congress of the SED in April 1986: “You know that our party and our people have always stood by you in all these years since the war, always prepared to help the young state of workers. We were true friends and allies of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, of the German Democratic Republic, and we will remain that for all times.”

You can assume that it would be a wasted effort to force a wedge between the GDR and the Soviet Union or to invent differences between the SED and the CPSU.

Question: “Perestroika” – does that mean restructuring the GDR too?

Answer: It is known that in the interest of further strengthening socialism, the 27th party congress of the CPSU made important decisions to accelerate the socioeconomic development of the Soviet Union. In his welcome address to the 27th party congress, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED Erich Honecker emphasized that the implementation of this action program has fundamental significance for the good of the Soviet people and at the same time carries considerable weight internationally.

Also, on numerous other occasions, we told the Soviet people and its communist party that we are convinced that the restructuring initiated by the 27th party congress in order to overcome unfavorable trends and difficulties that arose in the 1970s and early 1980s will be crowned with success, since it is a matter of allowing the immense material and intellectual potential of the Soviet Union to develop fully, thereby further developing and strengthening socialism.

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