Background: This is a partial translation of a 142-page booklet commemorating Nikita Khrushchev’s 1957 visit to East Germany. Khrushchev was a more sympathetic figure than Stalin, and won a certain amount of popularity by his “plain folks” style. More of the numerous pictures in the book are available on a separate page.
The source: Freimut Kessner, Der Zwang des Herzens (Berlin: ZK der SED, Abteilung Agitation und Propaganda, 1957).
The sun was shining on the broad plaza and on the people. They stood tightly packed: young and old, men and women, workers and white collar workers, retirees and artists, people of every kind. More kept coming. They came from all parts of Germany’s capital. Friendship knows no borders. Not even the unnatural borders of a divided capital. Friends are coming to visit. Friends not only of the German Democratic Republic, but of all of Germany: the party and government delegation of the USSR under the leadership of Nikita Sergejevich Khrushchev and Anatoli Ivanovitsch Mikoyan.
The flags and banners are rippling in the wind. The flags of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the German Democratic Republic cover the gray facade of the East Station. Long live German-Soviet friendship — Forward in our common socialist cause! Happy children, the nation’s greatest treasure, stand by the doorways holding large floral bouquets.
Thousands and thousands have been standing for hours, and they are as happy as the children who are holding the flowers. Yet their happiness is of a different sort. They are moved to take part in this historic hour not only because of their hearts, but also because they bow to memory and obey the call of responsibility. More people stand along side each other along the street the visitors will follow.
The train arrives on the dot. People’s voices join like an organ with a thousand voices. The organ sounds the great song of friendship between the peoples, with all the voices in tune: Friendship! Drushba!
The guests step out into the bright summer sunshine and the people’s affection. There is the first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, N. S. Khrushchev, a man whose intelligence and earthy humor are appreciated by millions of people around the world. The enemies of humanity fear him because of his resolute fight for peace and the principles of peaceful coexistence.
And there is A. I. Mikoyan, the first secretary of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, a man long no stranger to the German people. He has become a close friend of the Berlin workers. There is the foreign minister of the USSR, A. A. Gromyko, who at the behest of the Soviet people has often represented the cause of the German people at the United Nations. And there are P. N. Kumykin, the representative of the minister for foreign trade of the USSR, I. V. Spiridonov, the secretary of the Leningrad City Commission, W. W. Grischin, the chairman of the central committee of the Soviet trade union, S. W. Mironova, the secretary of the executive committee of the Moscow City Soviet, W. J. Semitschastny, secretary of the Central Committee of the Komsomol, and G. M. Puschkin, the ambassador of the USSR to the German Democratic Republic. German and Soviet Young Pioneers charge up to them and present their flowers. No one can say which is brighter: the flowers or the eyes of the children.
Nikita Sergejevich and Anatoli Ivanovitsch walk alongside the first secretary of the Central Committee of the SED, Walter Ulbricht, and the president of the German Democratic Republic, Otto Grotewohl. They are accompanied by an honor guard of the national armed forces. The guests climb the tribunal.
A young man has broken through he barriers and runs up to the tribunal. His skin is dark brown. Nigeria is his home. He is overjoyed to shake the hand of the leader of the state and party that has fought for the freedom of oppressed peoples ever since it existed.
Walter Ulbricht greets the guests:
“You may be sure,” he says while representing the huge mass of millions of Germans, “that the German working class and all peace-loving forces in our country will use all their strength to work with the peoples of the USSR and the other socialist states to eliminate the danger of imperialist war and guarantee a peaceful socialist future.”
Once again the song resounds, a song composed by an unsurpassable master — the hearts of the people, as Nikita Sergejevich Khrushchev speaks.
“We are deeply moved by the warm reception you have given the party and government delegation of the Soviet Union,” he begins with an assurance of a man of the people.
Repeatedly the applause forces him to stop speaking.
“German-Soviet friendship,” he explains, “the strong and lasting relationship between our two nations — that is a powerful, truly historic achievement of the democratic forces of the German people as well as of the peoples of the Soviet Union. To a great extent, peace and security in Europe depend on the relationship between our peoples.”
Because friends always tell the whole truth, he speaks of the dangers that threaten this friendship and therefore peace in Germany and the whole world. In the other German state, the poisonous seed of hatred and mistrust of the Soviet Union and the socialist states is being sown. His wishes for the further growth of the German Democratic Republic, for the building of socialism, and for the successful struggle inmaintaining and strengthening peace, find an echo in the hearts of the Berliners.
The song of friendship accompanies the guests through the streets of Berlin. The hands of workers, the hands of mothers and young girls, hands that have known work and a hard life, hands that seek to reach the summer sunshine, reach out toward them in friendship. Honest hands. And honest hearts. They speak more eloquently than the mouths.
The workers’ hands are not empty, neither in the capital nor in the rest of the Republic.
“That would be a bad way to receive our guests,” the workers of the VEB Edelholzbau said. Their factory was along the route, and they wanted to greet their Soviet friends. “It would be a poor gift if we were lazy. We began work a little early this morning and gave up the afternoon break, because today we must produce more than the norm. That is our obligation. It is a matter of honor.”
The shipyard workers at Stralsund did the same. In honor of the guests, they pledged to exceed their export plan.
From trawler to trawler of the fishing firm at Saßnitz the radio messages flew: “We are meeting our annual plan by 7 November in honor of our guests.”
In Potsdam, the workers at a plant exceeded their plan by 126.1% in honor of the guests. Textile workers pledged to meet the plan early. Brigades at the youth objects in Brückenbau and Ringglies from the VEB Ingenierbau Brandenburg working at a construction site for the Kombinat “Schwarze Pumpe” telegraphed: “In honor of our guests, we will fulfill the annual plan by 15 October!”
The workers brought thousands of such gifts to the honored guests on the first day of their visit, gifts that the capitalist world are unable to understand. The blind live in eternal darkness. And certain people in the imperialist world are blind. How else could their scribbling journalists mock such gifts? How else could they joke about such an affirmation to the common socialist cause? Those who can see, the workers of the German Democratic Republic, know that their deeds strengthen the socialist community. They further know that their own lives will be better and richer the stronger their state and the other socialist states are. And they know one more thing: Gifts should bring pleasure, they should give honor. Nothing honors the great idea of socialism more than helping to realize it. Nothing brings more pleasure to the leaders of the workers’ movement than guaranteeing the people a happy future through the help of everyone.
Wherever the Soviet party and government delegation went on this day and throughout their visit, whether on the streets of Berlin or elsewhere in the Republic, the song of friendship sounded. On this first day it went with them to the country house of President Wilhelm Pieck on the outskirts of the capital, and continued through the friendly discussions between them and our president. It sang through the streets that our guests passed through on the way to the first meeting with the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. It filled the rooms of the Berlin City Hall, where the first secretary of the Central Committee of the SED, Walter Ulbricht, and the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the GDR, Otto Grotewohl, held a reception in honor of the party and government delegation from the USSR. Its melodies sounded in each conversation of the Soviet guests with representatives of the government, the parliament, the National Front of Democratic Germany, the parties and mass organizations, and with outstanding workers, farmers, scientists, and artists.
That song must sound, because there is an unbreakable friendship between us.
[This section was pp. 5-14. I now jump to p. 103]
Villages are normally very quiet on Sunday mornings. Even when the sun is shining. But it is different in Schwaneberg today. In the early morning hours, old and young were hurrying about. Here a street was cleaned, there another garland or picture was hung. Able hands make yet another floral bouquet. Excitement fills the houses and village streets. There is cheerful expectation, and a certain tension in the faces of the citizens of the village, and of the many who have come from neighboring villages. They are all looking forward to a visit of the southern group of the Soviet party and government delegation. The workers and the director of the seed works have stage fright. Yesterday evening Director Strube returned from a festive reception in Magdeburg and said: “Comrade Khrushchev is an old expert! Cross your fingers that all goes well!”
Why stage fright? N. S. Khrushchev is not coming to “inspect.” Nor is Walter Ulbricht. Besides, the seed works in Schwaneberg and its affiliate in Altenweddingen can stand up to any comparison. 500 cattle, 6,000 swine, 2,000 sheep, and 70 horses are in their stalls, and are well fed. 613.5 quintals of meat per 100 hectares were produced last year. This year it will be even more. And the corn is doing well. 1000 quintals of fodder are produced per hectare. It set the standard for the German Democratic Republic last year in corn production. There is no need for stage fright.
But they still have it. It comes from their own modesty. They do not boast of their success. The opposite. They only ask: “Have we really followed all the advice that our Soviet friends have given us to advance our common socialist cause?” [Khrushchev was a big proponent of growing corn, and encouraged its production in the Soviet Union. Since the USSR was the model, the GDR was following the Soviet example.]
Today will tell. It is examination day. Even the best student is nervous on the day of the test. Only sloths and slackers are not.
The tension filling the whole village is released in indescribable jubilation as the cards of the delegation enter the village. As N. S. Khrushchev and Walter Ulbricht step out of the car, they are instantly surrounded by children, men and women. Director Otto Strube welcomes them, and suggests inspecting the fields. “Sure,” smiles Nikita Sergejevich . “A farmer’s field is like a photograph. It tells whether he has worked hard or been lazy.”
As the cars drive off, one farmer says to his wife: “don’t forget to cross your fingers!”
“I’ll do it, and even pray!”, she smiles.
The layman as well as the expert can smile when he sees the cornfields around Schwaneberg. It is like a green forest. N. S. Kruschchev beams at the success of the Schwaneberg pioneers. He grabs his translator by the collar (one of the village girls has said: “He’s tall!”) and puts him next to the corn. It is a good half meter taller than he.
“That is the way corn should look,” Nikita Sergejevich laughs. “That is corn — that is my ally!”
Then he points to the fat ears of corn.
“This looks like sausage on a stalk! That is butter! That is beef! That is bacon! Now you know why I am such a fan of corn.”
He claps the director on the shoulder.
“You are my best ally,” he says.
Here under the open sky and between tall stalks of corn, N. S. Khrushchev and Soviet experts discuss corn growing with its pioneers in the German Democratic Republic. They discuss farming methods, economics, sileage, technology. Friends learn from friends. Each gives and each takes.
Nikita Sergejevich concludes by saying: “You should show party functionaries, the youth, scientists, agronomists, tractor station directors and collective farm councils these cornfields. The Academy of Agriculture should set up shop here. This is where the discussion about growing corn in the German Democratic Republic should take place. I am sure that this corn would be the best argument.”
One of the farmers went back to the village.
“What did Khrushchev say?” “Did he like our corn?” “Was he surprised?” He was asked questions from every side, though his answers really should have been clear from his expression.
“Now that’s corn!” he said — “That is corn!”
It was as if one had given them a big gift.
They had gifts for their Soviet guests, but had forgotten that their work was also a gift. As the guests returned to the farmyard, they were given a prizewinning mare and her newest foal, which had been given the name “Maruschka” the previous day. They also were given a ram and 20 Marino yearlings. Colleagues from the neighboring collective farm at Kloster Hadmersleben also brought gifts. In their name, the 73-year-old farmer Albert Becker gave them valuable seed produced by Academy member and National Prize winner Professor Vettel.
“May it bring a rich harvest in the coming year,” Albert Becker wished. Nikita Sergejevich shook the old worker’s hand heartily/
“What secret recipe have you followed to stay so strong?”, he asked.
“Albert Becker answered: “Secret recipe? Just work. It has become a habit.”
It was a warm parting. Just like to hold friends, Nikita Sergejevich Kruschchev and Otto Strube shake hands. To the farmers surrounding them, the Soviet statesman says: “Director Strube has won the victory. He has proven the skeptics wrong.” But Otto Strube contradicts him: “I didn’t do anything by myself. Everyone had to help!”
“That’s true,” agrees Nikita Sergejevich . “No one can do it alone. But the troops need a good commander. If they don’t have him, they will lose the battle.”
The cars have long since left Schwaneberg, but people are still standing around in groups. This recall each moment of the unforgettable visit. Nearly every word that the guests said is repeated.
“I was surprised by the simplicity, the modesty of the high functionaries. Despite their great responsibility, they have not lost touch with reality,” says Jürgen Rysel, a farmer.
“Above all, they have not lost touch with the workers, with the people,” adds farmer Paul Körber. “When in the past did such important statesmen ever visit us workers in the factory or farmers in the field?”
“And debated with us,” adds another.
“Even learned from us,” says a third.
“But we have learned much from them, too,” adds a fourth. “Remember how Comrade Kruschchev immediately saw what was amiss, even though the corn is growing well. I don’t think we would have realized ourselves that the corn was too thick.” [pp. 103-111]
While the machines in Berlin’s factories are running at full speed so that as many workers as possible can attend the afternoon mass meeting at Marx-Engels Square without setting the plan back, the delegations are continuing their discussions in the “House of Friendship” on Wilhelm-Pieck Street. They agreed on a “Joint Declaration on the Negotiations between the Delegations of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and the Government of the German Democratic Republic with the Party and Government Delegation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” It is an historic document that manifests the desire for peace of both states and is filled with the spirit of friendship between peoples. It is a document that is anchored firmly in the foundations of Marxism-Leninism and the principles of proletarian internationalism.
The sun is shining in Berlin. The sun also is in the hearts of hundreds of thousands who have marched to Marx-Engels Square this afternoon from both parts of the German capital. It is as if brooks are forming streams and the streams are forming rivers, which come from every direction to form a huge sea of happy and resolute people at Marx-Engels Square. It is a powerful mass demonstration of progressive Berliners. They come from every district of the city of millions: from Köpenick, Neukölln, Pankow, Wedding, Lichtenberg, Tempelhof, Treptow, Steglitz, Johannistal, Tegel, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Weißensee, Schöneberg, Friedrichsfelde, and Tiergarten. They are people of the most varied worldviews, of every age, of every occupation.
One word unites them: Friendship!
One will fills them: To maintain peace!
One longing fills them: To live once again as a family in one house without walls of separation!
They have one wish: to thank their friends from the great land of peace!
They share a common determination: That Germany never again fall into the hands of the warmongers of yesterday, that there may never again be a murderous battle between the German and Soviet peoples!
The notes of the “Marseillaise” sound out, the riveting song of the French Revolution. The old and new songs of the German workers fill the wide square and are joined with chants. Flags fly in the wind. There are flowers of every color. It is a symphony of blooming life. A revelation of the people’s will. The working population of Berlin affirms the pillar of peace in Europe: German-Soviet friendship!
As the storm drives the waves against the beach, so waves of enthusiasm come from the sea of people as the representatives of both states and both parties appear on the flower-covered tribunal. They are greeted by Professor Dr. Erich Correns, the President of the National Council of the National Front. Young boys and girls storm the tribunal and give the members of the Soviet party and government delegation flowers and gifts. Repeated cheers fill the square.
Nikita Sergejevich Kruschchev speaks to 250,000 Berliners. He speaks of the unshakable principles of Marxism-Leninism, which are the source of the common views that exist not only between both parties and governments, but also between the workers of both countries.
“Yes, comrades, the friendship between our peoples is truly a great accomplishment that is possible only on the foundations of socialism,” Nikita Sergejevich declares. He says that one cannot live in the past, but must remember it in order to avoid repeating its mistakes. The members of the delegation of the USSR asked themselves before coming to the German Democratic Republic if perhaps somehow and somewhere there were remnants of hatred in the hearts of the German population against the peoples of the Soviet Union. “We were deeply moved by the warm feelings of strong friendship . The workers in the German Democratic Republic are striving to develop and strengthen friendly relations between our nations.” That has answered the question members of the delegation had. They found in the German Democratic Republic only the hatred that moves the people of the Soviet Union and the overwhelming majority of humanity: hatred against imperialist war. This common hatred is the other side of the coin of the efforts of the Soviet Union and the whole German people, an insurmountable barrier for all those who want to unleash a new war not only in Europe, but anywhere in the world. The past is over. It is an entirely different kind of hatred than the hatred that supports the polices of the Western Powers and above all the Adenauer government.
In rapt attention the hundreds of thousands listening to Nikita Sergejevich hear him reveal the contemptible methods that Adenauer and the government of the Federal Republic use to sow hatred and suspicion, through which they present themselves as ‘heroes’ but in reality mock human concerns, when they always demand the repatriation of Germans allegedly still held in the Soviet Union [These would be prisoners of war from World War II].
“Can one call your actions noble, Herr Adenauer?” he asked. “You mock the memory of men who died during the war and cold-bloodedly and systematically rip off the scabs covering people’s spiritual wounds. I was always with Soviet troops during the war ... Both I and Comrade Mikoyan ... suffered great personal pain. Both he and I lost sons. They did not return from aerial missions. Our sons were listed as missing, We could just as easily demand that Germany return our sons. But I am sure they died, even if their bodies were never found. Our sons were devoured by the fires of war. Hundreds of thousands like us have family members missing ...
What can come of making such demands on each other? Will it lead to peace? No, it will only lead to bad blood, it will only sow hatred. And that is what the people who are preparing a new war want.”
N. S. Kruschchev stated that the Soviet people want just what the German people desire: an honest end to the “Cold War.” Like all other peoples, they demand disarmament, the banning of atomic and hydrogen weapons, and are persuaded that the world will achieve these goals. N. S. Kruschchev appealed to the working class to defend its achievements. That requires the workers in socialist countries to maintain armed forces.
As if he had read the question in countless faces, he asked: “Why does Kruschchev mention the military when speaking about peace?” He answered: “The West is arming and preparing plans for an aggressive war against the socialist nations. It would be a crime if we neglected our efforts to defend the socialist nations against the blows of imperialism. The Soviet Union and the other socialist nations possess all the strength they need to defend the cause of the working class, the cause of peace, of democracy, of socialism.”
A hurricane of applause followed the conclusion of his speech, in which he wished the workers of the German Democratic Republic new successes in building socialism and in fighting for a united, peace-loving Germany. There were shouts and cheers. Walter Ulbricht, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED, spoke after him. He pointed out the essential difference between state visits of representatives of imperialist countries and state visits by representatives of socialist nations:
“When representatives of the U.S. government like Mr. Dulles visit West Germany, they are interested only in NATO’s armaments, in preparations for atomic war and for building up West Germany’s military. Mr. Dulles does not speak to workers and farmers, but with the military industrialists who formerly served Hitler, or with Adenauer and Speidels.
Comrade Khrushchev is interested in producing more meat and fat products, but Mr. Dulles is interested only in producing atomic weapons. Comrade Mikoyan visited workers in the food industry, Comrade Grischin, Chairman of the Central Council of the Soviet trade union, talked with union members in a metal factory. Comrade Semitschastny, the Secretary of the Komsomol, talked with boys and girls in Magdeburg. That is true friendship.”
Things are changing in Germany, Walter Ulbricht explained. The Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the National Front of Democratic Germany, the Parliament, and the government of the GDR are carrying the banner for the whole nation, the banner of Germany’s national resurrection.
Dr. Otto Nuschke then stepped to the microphone. He to translated the wishes and feelings of the 250,000 gathered at the square, as well as those of millions in the Republic and in all of Germany.
“We thank our Soviet friends for the extraordinarily new important support they are giving us in our struggle. They should know that our hearts go out the great Soviet people, that our thanks is eternal, just as is our friendship. It is genuine and unshakable.”
Friedrich Ebert, the Mayor of Greater Berlin, said that the overwhelming majority of the population of Berlin and of all Germany shares the desire of the peoples of the Soviet Union for a lasting peace in Europe and in the world. He encouraged the Berliners to do all they could for the common socialist cause. His conclusion won the stormy approval of the crowd. Then the powerful song that was and is on the lips of millions and millions who fought and fight for true humanity sounded out, the song that makes the rich tremble, the song that gives the poor strength: “Peoples, Hear the Signal!”
The song rose high into the summer sky. Its last verse was followed by fireworks. The red flags of those fighting for freedom and human rights waved, the flags of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the German Democratic Republic. The fireworks were deafening. Yet they could not drown out the unending ovations. The crowd roared: “This world must be our world! The future belongs to the forces of peace, democracy and socialism!”
A festive evening followed a festive day. The Soviet embassy held a reception for the leading statesmen and functionaries of the party and mass organizations, along with outstanding workers, farmers, scientists and artists of the German Democratic Republic. Collective farmers sat next to the general in charge of the nation’s armed forces, a worker next to an ambassador, an artist next to a government minister. They discussed the unforgettable events of the past days, in which each saw signs of a great friendship.
Anatoli Ivanovitsch Mikoyan, in his toast, said that no one could darken this bright day, for the sun of friendship is purer and more powerful than the dark cloud of lies and hatred that the enemy of peace is using against the experiences that the delegation of the Soviet party and government have had in the German Democratic Republic. As day defeats the night, so too the darkness of our enemy’s war plans will give way before the bright sun of friendship and peace.
The streets once again are packed with tens of thousands of people. Again the masses are gathered at the East Station. It is time to bid farewell to friends, friends who through their simplicity, intelligence and honesty have won the hearts of millions. Again they are given flowers. Again storms of applause fill the square. Again the cheers sound out, and the word that gave these seven historic days their strength: Friendship! Drushba! Once again the powerful thousand-voiced organ sings the hymns of friendship between peoples. After Walter Ulbricht has spoken, Nikita Sergejevich Kruschchev once again speaks of how deeply moved all members of the Soviet party and government delegation have been. He once more wishes the workers of the German Democratic Republic new success in their great and noble tasks, and closes with the words: “Farewell, dear comrades and friends! Farewell, dear Berliners!” His words are echoed a thousand times: “Farewell! Farewell!”
The sound of rolling wheels joins the finale of the symphony. Good friends are going home. They know that no power can destroy the friendship between their people and ours.
A symphony of friendship faded.
But did it really fade? No, its tune lives on in our hearts.
In our hearts! [The text is from pp. 118-142.]
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