German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: The following speeches were delivered by Erich Honecker to congresses of the Free German Youth, the GDR’s youth organization, in 1984 and 1989.

The source: The first speech: Neues Deutschland, 9/10 June 1984, p. 1. The second: Neues Deutschland, 13/14 May 1989, p. 1.

Party and Revolutionary Young Guard Firmly Allied

by Erich Honecker

Dear members of the Free German Youth!

Dear friends and comrades!

At the start of the Congress of the Free German Youth I bring to you the heartiest greetings of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, and of the State Council and the Ministerial Council of the German Democratic Republic. (Long-lasting enthusiastic applause, cheers for the GDR) In this time of struggle you have come to this impressive gathering in the center of Berlin. In Berlin, the city of peace, your unshakable will now more than ever to do everything for the strengthening of our socialist fatherland, the German Democratic Republic, and for the safeguarding of peace, will be reinforced. (Enthusiastic applause, chants: “We want peace!”) Through your splendid accomplishments in the “Peace Campaign of the GDR” you have demonstrated unmistakably that the love, the loyalty, and the deeds of the youth belong to German Democratic Republic, the state of socialism and peace on German soil. (Very long-lasting strong applause, chants: “GDR: Our Fatherland!”)

Dear friends!

On this tradition-filled square, Karl Liebknecht proclaimed the socialist republic from the balcony of the imperial palace. Here the red sailors from the renowned people’s naval division fought for a socialist Germany. Here on the banks of the Spree Ernst Thälmann demanded on 1 May 1932, at one of the largest mass meetings of that era, a united front against Fascism and war. Down the historic Linden-Magistrale marched the heroes of the Red Army and lifted over the cupola of the Reichstag the banner of victory and liberation. (Enthusiastic applause, shouts: “Drushba-Friendship!”)

Only four years later, the newly founded Free German Youth, with its unforgettable torchlight procession, celebrated the foundation of the German Democratic Republic and greeted its first president Wilhelm Pieck. (Very long-lasting applause, cheers for Wilhelm Pieck) On that fall evening 35 years ago, the young generation of our republic pledged its loyalty to our republic, because it “wanted to, and will, bring peace and a better life.” This hope has been fulfilled in our land. We are therefore all rightly proud. (Enthusiastic applause, cheers)

Today this square, the scene of so many historic events, carries the names of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the founders of scientific socialism. Also in the heart of Europe, on German soul, their revolutionary ideas are becoming reality. Our German Democratic Republic, a state of workers and farmers, proves this. So does your powerful demonstration on the 35th anniversary of its existence. (Long-lasting strong applause, chants: “FDJ-SEd”)

35 years of the German Democratic Republic have been 35 years of hard struggle for peace and socialism. Our people, under the leadership of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, has truly done great things during these years. We are filled with joy that you, under the sign of the rising sun, display the same revolutionary spirit for the strengthening and defense of socialism. (Enthusiastic applause, cheers for the SED)

Dear friends!

Your national youth festival is part of a great tradition. Gatherings of the Free German Youth were always festivals of peace and anti-imperialist solidarity. Today too your call for peaceful cooperation between the nations and the friendship of the youth of all nations rings out. We are happy that the Free German Youth is ever and always in the front ranks of the struggle against imperialist war policies and for the happiness of the nations. (Enthusiastic applause, shouts: “Peace- Friendship-Solidarity!” Cheers for the FDJ) You are continuing the work of such revolutionary predecessors as Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, Ernst Thälmann and Wilhelm Pieck. You are the revolutionary young guard of fighters for peace and socialism.

Dear members of the Free German Youth!

Today peace is seriously threatened by the aggressive striving for supremacy of the United States and the growing armaments of NATO. First-strike weapons in Europe, above all in the FRG [Federal Republic of Germany], have created a dangerous situation. There is nothing more important for us than to devote every energy to stopping a nuclear catastrophe. We want to create peace in the face of NATO’s weapons. (Long-lasting strong applause, chants: “Away with the NATO rocket decision!”)

Before history we have accepted the responsibility of never again permitting war to begin on German soil. That is how we act. We do not want peace only for our and your generations. We want peace for your children and your children’s children. We want peace for all times, for ever! (Enthusiastic applause)

The German Democratic Republic supports all initiatives that serve to reduce military confrontation, to reduce tension, and to encourage mutually beneficial cooperation. Your peace campaign has supported this policy, the constructive and flexible proposals of the Soviet Union and the socialist nations. More clearly than ever before it is plain: socialism means peace, and socialism brings peace. (Very long-lasting enthusiastic applause)

Since we are firmly persuaded that more weapons do not mean more security, we reiterate our proposal, supported by this appeal of our youth, that the Pershing II and Cruise missiles stationed in Western Europe, and particularly in the Federal Republic of Germany, be removed. (Strong applause) That would also open the possibility for the Warsaw Pact to immediately undo the measures it has taken to maintain the military balance.

We are in favor of a treaty between the nations of the Warsaw Pact and NATO that would prohibit the use of military force and establish peaceful relations.

We are in favor of freezing the arsenal of nuclear weapons and establishing nuclear-free zones, of freeing Europe from chemical weapons, of stopping the growth of military budgets and reducing them.

The military and strategic balance must remain, with ever lower numbers of weapons. The limitation and reduction of armaments according to the principle of equality and equal security-that is our goal. The return to detente-that is our task. (Very long-lasting enthusiastic applause, shouts: “Down with the NATO rocket decision!”)

We are for peaceful coexistence. There is no reasonable alternative.

Dear friends!

Already decades ago our Free German Youth sang the song of peace, “Bau auf, bau auf, Freie Deutsche Jugend, bau auf!” Today you still are singing it. (Very long-lasting applause. Some begin singing “Bau auf, bau auf,” and all join in)

The blue flag with the sun has been seen throughout the history of the GDR. From the “Dam of Peace” in Sosa to the “Route of Friendship” in the Soviet Union to the “FDJ Berlin Initiative,” the accomplishments of the FDJ testify to it as the fighting reserve of our party. (Enthusiastic applause, cheers for the party and the youth organization).

Now, dear friends, you have come to this gathering with exemplary results in your work and learning and in the defense of the homeland. In Berlin too it is clear how the youth of our land help to realize the program of our party for the prosperity of the people. Together with the Berliners, members of the FDJ and workers from the entire republic are working to rebuilt the capital. Berlin shall with increasing persuasiveness incorporate the life force of our socialist fatherland, the dynamic nature of its peaceful program of construction.

Your tremendous accomplishments in the 35th year of our workers’ and farmers’ state proves that only socialism can give the youth a meaningful life and a sure future. Socialism and the young generation, party and Free German Youth belong firmly and for all times together. (Very long-lasting applause, cheers for the SED and the GDR)

We thus successfully continue the course of political stability, economic growth and the unity of economic and social policy established by the X. Party Congress. We make our contribution to the strengthening of socialism in the world and the maintenance of peace.

Dear friends of the Free German Youth!

I wish you exciting days and unforgettable impressions in our friendly capital Berlin. (Enthusiastic applause, cheers for the host).

I declare the opening of the National Youth Festival of the GDR, the Congress of the Free German Youth.

-Onward to the 35th anniversary of our socialist fatherland! (Very long- lasting applause)

-Long live the German Democratic Republic! (Very long-lasting enthusiastic applause, cheers for the National Youth Festival, the Central Committee of the SED and its General Secretary. Chants: “DDR-Our Fatherland!”)

The FDJ — A Reliable Partner in Struggle of our Party

by Erich Honecker

Dear members of the Free German Youth!

Dear friends and comrades!

Dear Berliners!

It is a pleasure for me to extend to you the heartiest greetings of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, and of the State Council and the Ministerial Council of the GDR, on the occasion of this powerful and joyous demonstration at the opening of the Whitsun gathering of the Free German Youth. (Enthusiastic applause, cheers for the GDR)

Your demonstration at this tradition-filled square in the capital of the GDR is a persuasive affirmation of the youth of our republic to peace and socialism. I can also say, I am sure, that it is an affirmation by the delegates of the youth of the German Democratic Republic to our party, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the party of innovators (Neuerer), the party of the youth. (Enthusiastic applause, cheers for the SED) A party guided in its every action by the immortal teaching of the great German scientists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, by the knowledge of Vladimir Lenin, a party that defends their teaching and creatively advances it. The teaching of the values of socialism, to which the future of mankind belongs. (Long-lasting strong applause)

Yes, dear friends, your presence at this festive hour is an unmistakable sign of the victory of socialism in the heart of Europe, for peace and anti-imperialist solidarity. (Enthusiastic applause, chants of “Peace, Friendship, Solidarity!”)

Just a few days ago our people, among them the 1,700,000 younger voters, gave an impressive and clear vote in the communal election for the policies of our party, for the policies of our workers’ and farmers’ state. In such a turbulent time as today, that was a decision of historic importance, of historic implications. (Strong applause, chants: “GDR-Our fatherland!)

Here on this square before this powerful demonstration of the young gener- ation I may say: Regardless of some speculation in the West, we were confident that our people, on the basis of their own experiences, could reach no other decision. Our party, our government, will of course do everything in their power, in cooperation with the forces united in the National Front, to realize the election program of the National Front of the GDR in the interest of the prosperity of the people, in the interests of peace everywhere. (Enthusiastic applause)

We thereby fulfill at the same time the decisions of the XI. Party Congress of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. There is no one in the world who can keep us from furthering the great revolutionary process of transformation in the first socialist state of the German nation. (Long-lasting strong applause, chants: “GDR-Our fatherland!”)

We all know that the workers, the farmers, the members of the intelligentsia, the young generation of our nation have hard work and resolute struggle behind them. In the 40th year of the existence of the GDR, we can proudly see that all the labor has paid off. With the growth of our republic, socialism has taken permanent footing on German soil. (Enthusiastic applause) We are ready to work and to defend peace together to guarantee that this process continues. (Long-lasting strong applause)

You, dear friends, have already accepted the torch from those who in October 1949, on the occasion of the election of Wilhelm Pieck as President of the republic, swore to stand by this republic, because it is a republic of the working people, a republic of the youth. Since then our republic has changed for the better, thanks to the strength of our people, the strength of the youth.

On the ruins left us by the Second World War developed everything that today surrounds us, what during the last forty years has been accomplished everywhere in the GDR, what each who visits us can see. You were part of it, and you will carry the banner of the socialist revolution over the threshold of the year 2000. (Long-lasting enthusiastic applause. Chants: “SED-FDJ!”)

With pride we see that our republic is among the ten major industrial nations of the world, a nation mastering the demands of the scientific-technological revolution. We have combined the advantages of socialism with those of modern technology, and consistent with the Schwedt Initiative, are day by day producing more with less labor. Here there is no unemployment. Here the scientific- technological revolution is carried out while maintaining full employment. The best of it all is that here one can buy something for one’s efforts, for one’s wages, and that the time will soon come in which a good apartment will be available for every young person who begins a family. (Strong applause)

Yes, dear friends, the socialism for which we struggled so long, for which the German workers movement gave so many sacrifices in the struggle against Fascism and war, has developed successfully in the German Democratic Republic on a firm foundation. It has proven itself a stable pillar of peace in the heart of Europe. (Long-lasting, strong applause)

Naturally we are not content with what we have accomplished. Our industrial and agricultural progress, our scientific potential, our close friendship and cooperation with the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of Poland, the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic, and the other socialist nations, enables us, step by step, to move forward. The prosperity of the people will reach a level that many today can scarcely imagine.

You, dear friends, with your upright support of the ideals and values of socialism are a living guarantee that that which has been accomplished cannot be destroyed by those in the world who do not yet stand on the side of peace and cooperation, of disarmament. We are not alone in the world. We have powerful allies. We have them in the Soviet Union, in the People’s Republic of China, in the People’s Republic of Poland, in the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic, and the other socialist nations, but also in those states in the West that are working to prevent an atomic inferno for humanity, who are working to abolish war forever from the life of humanity. (Strong applause)

We keep in mind that there are people in this world who want to hinder the first steps taken toward atomic disarmament, who through the modernization of whole weapon systems are trying to reverse the peace process begun through the great initiative of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact states, lead by the great international activity of Michail Gorbachev. The proposal of the Soviet Union, in agreement with the other nations of the Warsaw Pact, to withdraw all tactical nuclear weapons from the territory of the allied states if the USA is willing to take the same step, the one-sided withdrawal of 500 atomic warheads from this territory and the further proposals for radical reductions in armaments and troops strengths, speak for themselves and find our total support. (Long-lasting, enthusiastic applause)

We are firmly persuaded that it will be possible to make this disarmament process irreversible, because we set our full energy toward strengthening socialism and holding a dialog with anyone in the world who, like us, is ready to defend peace and disarmament, both in the nuclear and the conventional arenas.

In solving these problems, we must never forget that the developments in this or that socialist land may take different courses. That is the result not only of different national conditions. The socialist society is still young. It is at the moment in the process of great transformations in the Soviet Union and other socialist nations. Despite all the gloomy predictions of people who understand nothing, absolutely nothing, about the laws governing human society, those who would happily bury socialism, I want to say clearly and firmly that the world is turning not in the direction of capitalism, but in the direction of socialism. That is unchangeable fact. (Enthusiastic applause)

Dear friends!

The Free German Youth has constantly proven itself a reliable comrade in struggle of our party, the party of Karl [Liebknecht], Rosa [Luxemburg], of Ernst Thälmann, of Wilhelm Pieck, Otto Grotewohl and Walter Ulbricht. So will it also be in the future. The youth is an active participant in the developed socialist society of our nation, a participant in the formation of a new Germany. It will finish the work of socialism on German soil, this noble work of creative labor for the benefit of the people and for the happiness of humanity, for a secure peace.

Long live the Free German Youth! (Long-lasting strong applause, chants: “FDJ-SED!”)

Long live our socialist Fatherland, the German Democratic Republic! (Long- lasting, enthusiastic applause. Cheers for the Party, the Central Committee of the SED and its General Secretary. Chants: “SED-FDJ!”, “DDR-Our fatherland!”)

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