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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 02, 1953

SPEECH BY GEORGII M. MALENKOV TO A VISITING GOVERNMENT DELEGATION FROM THE GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC (GDR)

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    Malenkov discusses East and West Germany, arguing that failure to unify the two countries will lead to another world war. He argues that the "forced" building of socialism in East Germany is in fact an obstacle to reunification, proposing that a reunification will be possible "only on the basis that Germany will be a bourgeois-democratic republic."
    "Speech by Georgii M. Malenkov to a visiting government delegation from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) ," June 02, 1953, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGASPI, F.83, Op.1, D.3, Ll.131-132, 134-136, 141. Translated for CWIHP by Geoffrey Roberts. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112796
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1.Not only you, our German friends, but our [Central Committee], together we are responsible for the course of the accelerated construction of socialism in the German Democratic Republic. As you know, this course has been carried out by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany with the approval of the Politburo of the [Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)].


2. As you see from the document distributed to you, we propose to recognize that this course is wrong and consider it necessary under present conditions to renounce the forced construction of socialism in the GDR. Why did we come to this conclusion and why do we consider it extremely important and urgent to renounce now the course of the forced construction of socialism in the GDR?


3. Above all it is necessary to say that the question of perspectives on the development of the German Democratic Republic cannot be seen in isolation from the solution of the task of uniting East and West Germany into a single German state.


It should be emphasized that the most important problem of the international situation is the problem of German unity, of Germany's transformation into a peaceful democratic state. Some people, it seems, are inclined to think that we put forward the question of the restoration of Germany's unity in pursuit of some propaganda ends only, that really we are not striving to end the division of Germany, that we are not interested in the restoration of a united Germany. This is a profound error. It should be finished with if instead of innuendo we wish to pursue a firm and clear political line in relation to one of the major contemporary international issues. We consider the unity of Germany and its transformation into a democratic and peace-loving state as the most important condition, as one of the essential guarantees, for the maintenance of European and, consequently, of world security, and for guaranteeing the strength of the peace.

Profoundly mistaken are those who think that Germany can exist for a long time under conditions of dismemberment in the form of two independent states.


To stick to the position of the existence of a dismembered Germany means to keep on the course for a new war in the near future. A dismembered Germany in the center of Europe means nothing else than the accelerated remilitarization of West Germany, the open preparation for a new war, which at a certain stage will grow into the direct unleashing of war. Have no doubt that the presence of a dismembered Germany plays into the hands of those nurturing plans for a new world war.


To struggle for the unification of Germany under certain conditions, for its transformation into a peaceful and democratic state, means to the stay on course for the prevention of a new world war. Have no doubt that a successful solution of the task of uniting East and West Germany into a united peaceful and democratic state means to foil plans for the preparation of a new world war.


4. On what basis can the unification of Germany be achieved in the current international situation?


In our opinion, only on the basis that Germany will be a bourgeois-democratic republic.


Under present conditions the national unification of Germany on the basis of Germany's transformation into a land of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of people's democracy is not feasible. It was this approach to perspectives for Germany that determined proposals by the Soviet Union to use the Weimar constitution, with certain amendments, as a model for the constitution of a united Germany. And what is the Weimar constitution? What is the Weimar Republic? It is, one can say, a classic model of a bourgeois-democratic state, created by ruling circles in German, including the Social-Democrats, trying to take into account the lessons of the First World War.


And if this is so, it is necessary to recognize that the forced construction of socialism in the GDR is under present international conditions leading to the consolidation of Germany's dismemberment and is an obstacle to the unification of Germany.


In economic relations the GDR cannot be considered as something closed, as isolated from the rest of Germany. Nobody would deny that any attempt to break the ties between the population of the GDR and that of West Germany is doomed to failure. In these conditions it is impossible to base the economy of Germany for very long on two mutually exclusive foundations: in one part of Germany--socialism; in the other, significantly larger, part of Germany--capitalism.


It could be said that it appears we are retreating. We were heading [allegedly] at full steam towards socialism and suddenly we abandon this course, veering away from the path towards socialism.


To this one can give the following reply.


The analysis of the internal political and economic situation in the GDR, the facts of the mass flight of the population of East Germany to West Germany (about 500,000 have already fled!) shows conclusively that we are really heading at full steam not towards socialism but towards an internal catastrophe. We are obliged to soberly face the truth and recognize that without the presence of Soviet troops the existing regime in the GDR is fragile.


In the present international situation the experience of the accelerated building of socialism in one part of Germany - the intensive implementation of a policy to squeeze out private capitalist elements in town and country - has led to negative results and the political and economic situation in the GDR at the present time is extremely unfavorable.


We must recognize that the experience of recent years in the GDR has played a negative role, instead of generating beyond German borders the further growth of sympathies and loyalty for the great cause of socialism in broad sections of the working people. This is quite understandable, since what else could the workers of France, Italy and other European countries draw from this experience? At the same time the enemies of socialism had an opportunity to use mistakes in the GDR to strengthen their attacks on socialism, on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and on the Soviet Union.

6.Consequently, it is necessary to choose: either the course for the accelerated building of socialism in the GDR, for the independent existence of two Germanies, and that means the course for a Third World War, or the abandonment of the accelerated building of socialism in the GDR and the [adoption] of the course of the unification of Germany in the form of a bourgeois-democratic state on condition of its transformation into a peaceful and democratic country.


7. This is why, in our opinion, the most pressing task for our German friends is to implement swiftly and decisively the measures which we are recommending for the normalization of the political and economic situation in the GDR and for safeguarding the future successful solution of the task of unifying Germany and transforming it into a peaceful and democratic state. We consider these measures to be entirely correct in the present international situation.


Any mistakes in policy, if uncovered, must be corrected swiftly and courageously. Unfortunately, a lot of time has already been wasted. It obliges us to begin with triple energy the rectification of mistakes committed in the GDR. Germany will only benefit from this approach.


8. It is impossible not to single out one thing which, although it is an individual question, has considerable significance. This is question of relations between the SED [Socialist Unity Party] and the Social Democrats. In West Germany, the Social Democrats can defeat Adenauer in the elections and come to power. Such a prospect cannot be ruled out. It is common knowledge that German Social Democracy is maneuvering on the issue of German unity and sometimes making it difficult for Adenauer to hold his line. Under these circumstances it is necessary for our comrades in Germany to make serious corrections in their tactics toward and relations with the Social Democrats.



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