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The Politburo Gets Briefed (September 15, 1987)

This draft document informs Politburo members about Honecker’s visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, and, in a concluding evaluation, emphasizes the historical and international significance of the visit while acknowledging the objectivity of West German media coverage.

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SED Politburo draft of September 15, 1987, on the official visit by Erich Honecker to the Federal Republic of Germany from September 7-11, 1987

[ . . . ]

IV. Summarizing evaluation:

1. The first official visit of Comrade Erich Honecker to the FRG was a significant political success for the GDR and an important result of its politics of reason and realism. The visit is the most significant event in GDR-FRG relations since the signing of the Basic Treaty. It is of far-reaching impact and historical significance. Together with the Basic Treaty and the Joint Declaration of March 12, 1985, the Joint Communiqué of September 8, 1987, forms the basis for the future structure of relations with the FRG. The visit itself and the political treatment of Comrade Erich Honecker, which followed the protocol for the head of a separate, sovereign state, documented to the whole world the independence and equal status of the two German states and underscored their sovereignty and the nature of their relations, which exist in accordance with international law. This delivered a powerful blow to all revanchist and “intra-German” efforts. And no comments about the “legal status” and the “unity of the nation” by Kohl and others could change that.

It is significant that a CDU/CSU-led government in particular was forced to agree to the visit and the course of events in this form. It could not avoid taking into account the postwar situation in Europe and the will of the majority of the FRG’s population for peace, détente, and normal relations with the GDR.

The events and results of Comrade Erich Honecker’s visit reflect the enhanced prestige of the GDR, the strength of its peace policies, and its increased international influence.

2. In view of the complicated international situation, the conversations between Comrade Erich Honecker, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED and Chairman of the Council of State of the GDR, and Helmut Kohl, Federal Chancellor of the FRG, as well as other leading personalities of the FRG, carried considerable weight in strengthening peace and opposing the risk of a nuclear inferno.

Based on the FRG’s role in securing peace in Europe, the visit was a significant step in continuing to bind the FRG to the process of peaceful coexistence. The confrontational policies of the United States were counteracted, and, in the process, the FRG continued to highlight differences between its interests and those of the United States. Thus, the GDR made an important contribution to the practical implementation of the peace policies of the socialist states, especially the momentous initiatives of M[ikhail] Gorbachev and the summit conference of the Warsaw Pact in Berlin.

The visit carried great international weight. It is a significant contribution toward improving the climate in Europe and continuing to firm up the international position of the GDR. It strengthens the GDR as an equal partner in its relations with capitalist industrial countries.

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