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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 29, 1961


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    Summary of Prestes' visit to Berlin and the GDR.
    "Report on Visit of Luis Carlos Prestes, Chairman of the National Leadership of the Brazilian Communist Party," November 29, 1961, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, SAPMO-BArch, DY 30, IV 2/20/221. Obtained for CWIHP by Jim Hershberg and translated by Sean O'Grady.
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R e p o r t 

on the visit of Comrade Luis Carlos Prestes, Chairman of the National Leadership of the Communist Party of Brazil.

Comrade Prestes came from Prague, where he had spent two days after attending the 22nd Party Congress of the CPSU [in Moscow, 17-31 October 1961], to Berlin in order to orient himself on the situation in Berlin. In addition, he wished to speak with the Brazilian comrades who are studying in the GDR.

As Comrade Prestes had already gotten to know [the country] during his earlier visits to the GDR, he refrained from taking a tour through the GDR. An extension of stay was also not possible, as he wished to take the next convenient flight connection through Paris (on December 2nd) due to the situation in Brazil. For the program, all wishes of Comrade Prestes were incorporated. The border visit gave him ample opportunity to become familiar with the measures that we have carried out. Because of the performance of Brecht plays in Brazil (“The Good Person of Szechwan,” “The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” and others), Comrade Prestes was above all interested in a visit to the Berlin Ensemble. He enjoyed the performance of “Frau Flinz” very much, as it showed the problems [illegible] of the people after the end of the War in 1945 through the beginning of the construction of socialism in the GDR. Although it was not a Brecht play, he was able to see how theater was performed by Brecht.

According to his request, Comrade Minna Ewert (retirement home “Olga Benario-Prestes” in Potsdam) was informed of his presence in Berlin. Comrade Prestes visited the Memorial to Socialists together with Comrade Ewert and afterwards proposed to visit the Trade Union College “Fritz Heckert,” particularly to get to know the brother of Comrade Ewert. Despite the short preparation for the visit (notice was given only 1 1/2 hours before the visit was to occur), it was possible for the Comrades to use the opportunity for Comrade Prestes to briefly appear before the students.

The television interview on 29 November 1961 took place upon notice from Comrade Prestes that he was prepared - if there was interest - to give an interview.

 During his stay, Comrade Prestes also had a conversation with the author of the book “Olga Benario,” Ruth Werner (Ursula Beurton).

 The lunch with Comrade Kiefert on 30 November 1961 was of great use to Comrade Prestes. Comrade Kiefert and Comrade Selbmann gave very detailed information on the situation in Berlin [at this meeting]. 

Comrade Grüneberg was present at the welcoming of Comrade Prestes to Berlin. Although Comrade Grünberg had little time, he accompanied Comrade Prestes to the guest house and used this opportunity to have an extended conversation with him. Unfortunately, the other comrades who were aware of the presence of Comrade Prestes (Cde. [Albert] Norden, [Hermann] Axen, und [Paul] Verner) did not take advantage of the opportunity to meet with him in some form.

As a souvenir, Comrade Prestes was presented a Thälmann plaque.

Comrade Prestes was accompanied by a journalist, Comrade Luiz Mario Gazzaneo. As Comrade Gazzaneo was especially interested in obtaining material for articles in the party newspaper about the situation in Berlin, [the following] special opportunities were offered to him:

Interview with the Deputy Foreign Minister, Comrade [Georg] Stibi,

Discussion with FDGB Federal Leader, Cde. Waldemar Poser,

Discussion in EAW Treptow with two former border crossers,

Transfer of photo materials (transfer at Checkpoint Friedrichstraße)  

During the presentation of a report on the visit of Comrade Prestes, the assigned interpreter and handler, Comrade Baron, reported on 7 December 1961 that:

In the course of the visit of Comrade Prestes, he had a conversation with Comrade Prestes, out which it emerged that Comrade Prestes has not yet had the opportunity to meet personally with Comrade Ulbricht.

Comrade Ulbricht was informed of the visit of Comrade Prestes through the protocol department, Comrade Streich.