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June 15, 1979

Memorandum of the meeting between Erich Honecker and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Israel, Meir Vilner

This document was made possible with support from The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

N o t e about the Meeting of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED, Erich Honecker, with the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Israel, Meir Vilner, on 15 June 1979 in the House of the Central Committee


Comrade Vilner was accompanied by his wife, Ita Vilner.

From the side of the SED participated in the meeting the Comrades

Hermann Axen

Member of the Politburo and Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED

Egon Winkelmann

Head of the Department of International Relations

Friedel Trappen

Deputy Head of the Department of International Relations


The translation was done by Jürgen van Zwoll, Political Counselor of the Department of International Relations.

Comrade Erich Honecker awarded to Comrade Meir Vilner the “Karl Marx Order” for the occasion of his 60th birthday. In a brief speech he praised the accomplishments of the Israeli communist and of Comrade Meir Vilner as a person.

Comrade Meir Vilner thanked with moving words for the high award presented to him. Afterwards an extensive conversation was held.

Comrade Erich Honecker welcomed and congratulated Comrade Meir Vilner again officially in the name of the Central Committee and also in his own name. He expressed his joy that, after a severe illness, Comrade Vilner is returning to his responsible activity which ]demands such high efforts. We are currently witnesses and participants of a very hard struggle to make the process of detente irreversible, Comrade Honecker emphasized. It shows in this context that compromises are needed everywhere. The main issue is here that the results will serve our common cause. We are interpreting in this sense the meeting between American President Carter and Comrade Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, which is certainly a major contribution to your common cause.

We can say that the development in Europe has already led to the fact that the situation is no longer reversible. We are also taking into account hat the development in the FRG is the matter of the people there. The DKP under Comrade Herbert Mies is leading a tough fight against the reaction.

A couple of communist parties are fighting for the strengthening of their positions. The majority of the fraternal parties are aiming at taking power. Others have the desire in this regard. The future will show how this will become reality.

In the 30th year of its existence the GDR is under severe attacks by the adversary in ideological regards. As developments are revealed, we were able to solidify the ranks of the party in this conflict. The connection to the masses has become stronger. This is evident in the party elections, which are also a public accounting of the fulfillment of the decisions made by the IX [SED] Party Congress [held 18 to 22 May 1976]. 95 percent of our functionaries are on honorary base. The results of our party elections are telling us that the comrades of our party have reached a high level in the scientific, economic, and cultural field.

We also have made progress in the area of the economy. Certainly, the cold weather period has inflicted damage. There are some subjective causes here at work, where we will have to draw conclusions from. We have overall lost 8 days of our industrial production. Now we have assigned ourselves the task to make up the backlog until the end of June so that we are level with the plan targets. For the 30th Anniversary of our Republic [7th October 1979] we will show up with fulfilled and in part exceeded plans. Currently we are facing new dimensions in our economy. Daily industrial production has currently an output of products in the value if 1 billion [GDR] Mark, this is about 500 million [U.S.] Dollar.

90 percent of our national income is generated by the industry. 10 percent comes from agriculture and other sectors. Though one has to say here that our agriculture is not falling behind our strongly developed industry. Notwithstanding this, we still have to import 3 million tons of grain annually. Currently we own a high number of livestock that are maintained. It is comprised of 11.9 million pigs, 5.6 million cattle, more than 2 million sheep and a huge number of chickens. Our agriculture continuously and reliably fulfills the plans. Meanwhile we have reached the highest butter consumption per capita of the population worldwide. In all of that, we did succeed to essentially maintain for the entire period of the existence of the GDR the price for basic foodstuffs stable. In some countries like in Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, the prices have gone up. We do think that price increases are ultimately nothing else but a redistribution of national income and will not garner substantial economic results. Our rate of accumulation is 22 percent. Annually we invest about 49 billion Mark into the economy, of which 27 billion alone go to the industry.

The average income of GDR citizens has risen since 1970 from about 600 Mark to 900 Mark. During the same period the minimum wage has increased from 300 to 400 Mark. In the light of that, in our country almost all women are included into the work process; as a result, there is a very high family income. At the same time, we have not increased for 120 years the prices for industrial goods, for consumption, rents, et cetera. On average you pay a rent of 80 Pfennig to 1.20 Mark per square meter for living space in new buildings. This means we overall do have to note a stable development.

Currently we are focusing significant efforts on automatization and intensification of our production in all areas. Even in the capitalist countries, as it is known, it is expected that over the next five years a second wave of automatization will come into effect. This is accompanied by the introduction of sensor electronics assembly and of industry robots.

In capitalist countries this would eliminate about 40 percent of jobs.

Recommendations by the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development]. tell us that the real income of workers should be lowered in order to secure the profitability of the economy. So, for capitalism and the workers in the capitalist countries automatization is therefore, to put it briefly, a curse. In our country it is a blessing, if we succeed in  correctly controlling the accompanying processes.

For us this results in our program of increased socialist economic rationalization. We want to continue to remain among the 10 strongest industrial nations of the world. However, we also have to consider, in this context, that rising world market prices are eating up a significant part of our growth in national income.

The party elections and the immediately following local elections have shown that an active political life has developed in our country. As it is known, the mass media of the FRG are permanent participants in our political life which they attempt to influence in a hostile and non-objective sense.

Notwithstanding this, however, the following is showing: In 1967 [sic; the referendum was held on 6 April 1968], when the new socialist constitution was subjected to a referendum, there were 600,000 no votes. At the current local elections the number of no votes just amounted to about 20,000. The election turned into a popular festival. Even the Protestants and Catholics came to vote. This was a great revelation to our enemies. It is a fact that the church, including the Jewish community, has a different relation with us. They define themselves as a Church in Socialism, whose members are working for socialism. The all-German church is dead. We have a good rapport with the Jewish community. The Rabbi is from Hungary. He is progressive.

On the 1st of May of this year, we had a very strong participation as well. In Berlin alone over 300,000 people demonstrated.

A special highlight was the Youth Festival in which over 700,000 youth participated in Berlin.

Overall, one can therefore say that the societal life in our Republic is very positive at its [the Republic’s] 30th Anniversary. The party has a close relationship with the masses, including the institutions for the producers of culture.

Some few black sheep among them cannot cause us major concerns here.

Our foreign policy line is clear. In Moscow we have extensively discussed foreign policy and military questions at the meeting of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Treaty states [held 22-23 November 1978].

The visit, by a delegation of the GDR party and state leadership to India [from 8 to 12 January 1979], which was headed by me, resonated here as well as in other parts of the world. We were welcomed there very amicably, and the talks with the President and Prime Minister of this country were very positive.

In February we traveled with a party and state delegation to four African countries. Also, we met with the representatives of the three most important liberation movements in Africa: The SWAPO, the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe, and the ANC of South Africa.

These visits occurred during the time of the beginning of China’s criminal aggression against Vietnam. We have used this to mobilize the progressive forces in the African countries against the Chinese aggression.

Currently negotiations are going on between Vietnam and China. The Soviet Union has also offered negotiations with China on questions of mutual relations. With their increasing attacks against the socialist countries, the imperialists had counted, to a significant extent, on the Chinese card. Now, however, the situation looks somewhat different.

Concluding this first part of his statements, Comrade Honecker emphasized again the great respect we have for the consequent struggle of the Communist Party of Israel. He underlined the very close relations our party is having with the Israeli communists.

Comrade Meir Vilner cordially thanked for these words. He emphasized that they demonstrate the true and honest friendship between our parties and the candor in our relations. The statements by Comrade Honecker are expressing the general spirit of the SED leadership. The Israeli communists assume that the situation in the SED is not just an intra-party affair of the SED itself. With great attention they are watching the work of the party with the youth. This work demonstrates how the revolutionary traditions of the KPD are permanently preserved and further developed. In the GDR, the youth get educated in a truly revolutionary spirit. This is certainly also the case in other socialist countries, Comrade Vilner continued. However, is is one way in your country, and it is again different in another country. For instance, in 1966 after the crisis in the Communist Party of Israel I had a talk with Comrade Novotny. He explained the situation in Czechoslovakia and said everything is fine with the youth, the students, and the intelligence. I told Comrade Novotny that our comrades living in Czechoslovakia are not assessing the situation this positively. He said those reports are exaggerated. Later it turned out that it was his assessment that was wrong.

In the GDR this is different. The SED is always providing a realistic evaluation of the situation which stands in concordance with that what actually is the case, because the SED has a deep connection with the masses. These questions are important to us. We are receiving many emigrants from Poland and the Soviet Union [in Israel]. This is very difficult for us. The bourgeois propaganda is attacking us, and we have to respond.

The 30th Anniversary of the GDR is an important international event. In this context there are some questions that are not only important for the communist movement but also beyond. These are the questions about the Germany of yesterday and today. Here in your country a miracle happened. I have to say that, after such a past, here [in the GDR] much more has been achieved than in some other countries. It has succeeded to create the new socialist human and especially to develop the working class and the youth firmly in the socialist spirit.

As far as the CP Israel is concerned, in March its 60th anniversary was supposed to occur. It was determined that this anniversary was supposed to be celebrated on 23 June, but the date had to be postponed until November. We have not publicly talked about the reasons for this postponement.

We had the intention to conduct, for the first time, a deep scientific analysis on some basic questions on the development of the party. We wanted to deal with the policy and development of the last 30 years, in particular. That is the period since the decision to establish the State of Israel, from its creation to afterwards. A couple of fundamental questions are emerging here to which we have to answer today. These are questions which might also possibly lead to new discussions in different directions.

I had the mandate to write this analysis and I took a lot of material with me to Moscow to work on this. Unfortunately, I hardly found the time to do it.

In our earlier analysis we had progressed to the year of 1924 when our party had been accepted into the Comintern. Now we have decided to look only at the most recent 30 years.

This is an objective necessity for our party. We have to address in this analysis of our history for example the following question: Since its foundation, the State of Israel has become a focus of constant aggressions. If Israel has developed into an exclusively aggressive state: was it maybe a mistake to establish this state? Maybe Stalin had not thought about this correctly? How should one address these questions? We as a party do have a principled position on this, however, we are of the opinion that everything has to be thought through anew.

For instance, today the Zionists are exploiting the statements made by Comrade Gromyko in 1947 at the United Nations. They contain one part which better would not have been said. Our party has never expressed it in the way Comrade Gromyko had done. Though we are not into stirring up old stories, this is about determining the line of struggle in the future. In this context, many questions have to be clarified in principle in order to counter the Arab and Israeli chauvinists with resolution.

The Zionists are saying, for instance, that the wars were all conducted against Israel. But how does it actually look since the War of 1948?

In socialist countries some things get written that we as a party cannot agree with and which are damaging to us. Here we have to establish clarity in the name of the party. Everyone knows that the position of the party was during this time this way, and not the other way, because of certain reasons. The leaderships of all parties agree with us, but then there are publications coming out contradicting this. This gets fully used against us by the newspapers in Israel, by the bourgeois press.

We have thought a lot about questions concerning the developments in China. What is China? In Moscow I was asked where I am from. I said, I am from an aggressive country. Then the comrade said, this can only be China or Israel.

After the conference in Sofia we held a special plenum about problems of the communist world movement and also edited respective publications. We sent the material in English to all fraternal parties, and we would be interested in your opinion.[1]

One thing is clear: the leadership of China is against socialism; it is pro-imperialist. Still, there remains the question: is China still a socialist country?

We are of the following opinion: In China there has been a socialist revolution and the beginning of the build-up of socialism. The economic base emerging from this has not yet been substantially altered. There does not exist a class of landowners. The power does also not rest in the hands of a capitalist class. The leadership of party and state is pursuing an anti-socialist policy and it is also spreading an anti-socialist ideology.

It is openly acting in an anti-socialist manner, and it declared the Soviet Union to be enemy Number One, even before the United States. This results in a serious danger for the regime, but the foundations of socialism have not yet been changed.

We are of the opinion that any other assessment would be wrong. Such would not result in a correct perspective for the struggle within China. The communist movement has to discuss its tactics as to how the development in China can be influenced.

In recent days a young man was talking on Moscow television about “the fascism in China”. This is not scientific. We are aware, in contrast, that not each reactionary [policy] does equate fascism.

Overall, one can thus state that there does exist a contradiction between the socialist base, which has not been substantially altered, and the changes in the superstructure in China. This cannot just go on like that endlessly. Either the superstructure will succeed in changing the base, or the situation in the base will lead to according changes in the superstructure. This means, the socialist interests of the working class will win the upper hand, and the socialist base will result in an altering of the reactionary superstructure.

Some issues regarding Romania. This is a completely different question. It is our opinion that some are getting  upset without keeping a cool head. Our position is clear: Romania is a socialist country. There is no internal danger here. The situation there is not like, for instance, in Czechoslovakia in 1968, where the power was with the street and various foreign influences were exerted in order to destroy the socialist power. In Romania there exists a dictatorship of the proletariat, which gets implemented with a firm hand and where in addition no criticism is possible.

On the other hand, we do note that the Romanian comrades are no internationalists and do not act by showing a solidarity. When back then [in 1967] the socialist countries broke relations with Israel, it was stated clearly that this is tactical question and not a fundamental negation of Israel’s existence. It is very damaging that Romania is still having diplomatic relations with Israel.

The main questions of Romanian policy are consequences of its relations with China, Kampuchea, Chile, and regarding other events. In addition, there is the Romanian position at the recent conference in Sofia: By Comrade Popescu, and before by Comrade Ceausescu, open doubts were expressed whether it’s proven that socialism is superior to capitalism. For their assertion they were quoting Lenin and omitting half of the quotation.

Comrade Erich Honecker: Yes, they are quoting incorrectly.

Comrade Meir Vilner: For them work productivity is the sole evidence for superiority. We have discussed this publicly at our plenum. We quoted Lenin in full and have noted that the position and attitude of the Romanian comrades is doing damage to our cause.

Our relations with the communist parties of the Arab countries have developed normally over the last 10 to 15 years, they have even become friendly. We are meeting and seeking each other out mutually. Currently Comrade Bakdash, the General Secretary of the Syrian Communist Party, is in Moscow. I will meet with him. As it is known, there are problems pertaining relations with the Ba’ath parties. The things happening in Iraq are horrible.

We understand that the fraternal parties have to be very careful how they behave. We especially have very close relations with the Jordanian Communist Party. Good relations do exist with organizations and communist groups in the occupied Palestinian territories. In almost all these areas they have great influence among the masses. The rightist PLO leaders are operating against them, albeit not in public. In the occupied territories there never has been such a strong front against the occupation and the Arab reaction as currently. This movement is also especially directed against the treason of Sadat. Those who are in favor of the PLO and those who are for Hussein are today united because of Sadat’s positions; and they support the PLO. We are supporting and expressing solidarity with the struggle of the communists in the occupied territories, and we do support the political line implemented there. We are also thinking, however, that some mistakes have been made.

For instance, there is the problem of U.N. Resolution 242. It is a mistake to go against it. We have talked about this with several leaders of the PLO, with Kaddoumi, with Hawatmeh, and others. We have asked them: why are you against it? The Soviet Union is in favor of it, the socialist countries are for it, and the Arab states can also advocate for it without losing anything. Of course, it is necessary to add that this resolution is insufficient because it is not proposing a clear solution of the Palestinian question. However, now there are a couple of additional decisions by U.N. organs which fully support the demands of the Palestinians. So, you have to advocate for both U.N. Resolution 242 and the other resolutions of the United Nations and its organs pertaining to the Palestinian question.

Arafat, for instance, has supported the joint Middle East Declaration by the United States and the Soviet Union from December 1977. However, this one is containing even less that U.N. Resolution 242.

Some thoughts about Camp David: As a result, U.S. imperialism has won nothing. The thing is turning more and more into a boomerang. Never before has there been such a united front in our region against a political move made by the United States. This has a major impact on the masses, and the longer it lasts, the worse it becomes for imperialism. The danger is that the imperialist forces are making efforts to further bolster the Sadat regime notwithstanding its isolation. The war against Lebanon and the Palestinians in Lebanon is occurring with Sadat’s agreement. The political goal is to crush the PLO and to provoke Syria into a war, that is to force it to join the Separate Treaty [Camp David Accords].

The continuous military pressure is supposed to lead to certain changes in Lebanon, which in itself are seriously endangering the existence of the Palestinian movement there.

We are in favor of overthrowing Sadat. Our enemies are planning for a change of the policy of the PLO, of Lebanon, and of other forces in order to further implement their line. 

The main issue of Camp David is that a military-political bloc has been created. Thus, the United States has realized an old plan they already harbored in 1948. They now have returned to the policy which they wanted to implement in the context of the Cold War, back then.

The results of Camp David are truly directed against detente, so therefore they are not just an issue affecting the region. For that reason, we also do consider the upcoming meeting between Brezhnev and Carter in Vienna in the context of the agreement over the new SALT II Treaty as very important. If certain tendencies are developing from this, it can exert a very positive influence on the developments in the Middle East.

In the short run, however, there are no indications towards a peaceful perspective in our region. To the contrary: the danger of a war can become even greater here. This is not just about a war of Israel with its neighbors. This is about Egypt and Israel exerting ever stronger influence on the developments in Iran, South Yemen, and Africa.

Israel is operating everywhere where the dirty business of imperialism is conducted. This does show in Chile, in Nicaragua, in South Africa, and in other parts of the world.

Something regarding Zionism: We as a party are consequently against the ideology and practice of Zionism. Though you have to ask the question how to best fight against it. This is about leading the struggle from the clear perspective of socialism and progress and thus convincing the Jewish masses that the fight against Zionism is in their national interest. This is about making clear and convincing that anti-Zionism is not directed against the Jews.

Our party is advocating for the widest possible front in the struggle against the occupation and for peace. This is our line. We are very eager to include everyone in this fight, even Zionists. If we would say, however, this is about a front against Zionism in Israel, then nobody would follow us except for the communists. This way the struggle against the occupation would be impossible. We are fundamentally against the Zionist ideology and policy, but the most current issue of our struggle is the one for peace and against the occupation. For instance, there are even Zionists who are in favor of the rights of the Arab peoples and who recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians.

Our position is not opportunism, but it is emanating from the ABC of communist tactics.

We are not making any ideological or fundamental compromises, this is about concrete political questions of the daily mass struggle.

It is currently possible to include up to 100 percent of the people in the strike movements in the occupied territories. Our comrades are working in the factories, they are advocating for the unity of all workers against the government. They are declaring that the main causes for the social hardships are armament, militarization, and capitalism. When we advocate for holding strikes, we cannot say “you have to completely agree with us” or “you are a Zionist, we do not talk with you”. On the side of Zionists, you frequently hear the argument, “You are no Zionists, therefore we are not going to march with you.” We are posing the question this way: in favor or against the occupation, in favor or against peace, in favor or against the working class, in favor or against equality of the Arab peoples!

At the same time, we are conducting the political and ideological struggle against Zionism. But we are also saying, for the joint struggle for peace and against the occupation we are accepting you, Zionists, the way you are, and we should not mutually force on each other our position and opinions. For instance, in our propaganda and agitation work, we are talking about the policy of the Zionist ruling circles and not in general about the Zionists.

About two weeks ago, there was a great event held by the movement “Peace Now” in the context of an armed settlement near Nablus. There was an organized movement and there were mass demonstrations for the elimination of this new Israeli settlement. The Communist Party participated actively in this movement although it was officially led by Zionists. It is important that Arabs have seen Jews there, who came out against Israel’s policy and in favor of the interests of the Arabs.

We are part of the “Democratic Front for Peace and Equality” which is represented in the parliament as well as in local organs. The Communist Party has 5 members in the Knesset and this movement has succeeded for the first time to win 4.6 percent of the vote.

Regarding the influence of the party, however, there exists a significant difference between the Arab and the Jewish population. Among Israel’s Arab population, the Communist Party is a politically decisive factor. You can say that, except for the PDRY, there exists no similar influence by communists among the Arab population. Here our influence is strong and stable. In 20 local assemblies the communists or representatives of the Front are in leading positions. In many other local representations, we also hold significant positions. We have 6 representatives in the National Executive Committee of the Trade Unions. Among the Jewish population, the party is gaining ground more slowly but steadily. Especially strong are the “Organization of Democratic Women”, which is a Jewish-Arab organization, and the “Society for Friendship with the Soviet Union”. This society is a movement with true impact among the masses.

The crisis of the party back in 1965 had an effect, in essence, only on the Jewish comrades. A third of those, who had then left the party, have returned, among them also leading comrades. Another third has officially moved towards the Zionist ideology and has organized itself in Zionist parties. Another third of those former comrades is no longer active in politics.

The party is healthy, and its absolute number of members is much larger today than before the split. At the [1977] election, we received about 80,000 votes.

This is extremely significant given our conditions in Israel. Overall, it is a big thing that today thousands of Jews support our party. We especially have a very healthy core of cadres, and we have very good cadres. Today we can say that all members of the party are very active. In addition, there exists a significant number of active sympathizers. Thus, our party has become a significant political force in Israel.

Comrade Erich Honecker thanked the statements of Comrade Meir Vilner, which are concerned with essential questions of strategy and tactics.

He emphasized that we agree with all fundamental questions, especially pertaining to international issues. We will inform the Politburo of the SED Central Committee about this conversation. In our country, as well, many of these questions play a role, while we do not address them in public.

The problem of China was also discussed here and also the question whether China is a socialist country. We have to ask: what else is China? There are no feudal lords there, there exists no ruling capitalist class, and there is no financial oligarchy. This means, the base is socialist. On the other hand, there do exist deformations in the superstructure. However, one cannot just write off China and declare it to be a capitalist country. Because the exploitation has been eliminated. A different issue is the policy of the leadership. When the Chinese are declaring the Soviet Union to be enemy Number One and enter into an alliance with the United States, then we condemn and fight against this policy.

There exists information that intensive discussions are taking place in the country, because the cooperation with the United States and the Western capitalist countries is not understood by many people. What is actually happening in China? Previously it was said Lin Biao is a great Maoist. However, then he was shot down on his way to the Soviet Union. It is easy to exclude a country from the socialist world system, but it is difficult to bring someone back.

The equating of China to a fascist regimes is wrong. We have not published any articles that are equating the current Chinese leadership with fascism.

The Soviet Union is trying to reach an agreement on the state level. Such proposals are not new. It is always worth it to take a try, one has to continue to try. We are of the opinion that one has to continue with state-to-state relations and to develop them. As far as the relations between parties are concerned: first the pre-conditions have to be established here. We are allied with the SRV [Socialist Republic of Vietnam] through a friendship pact. We have massively argued against China’s aggression against socialist Vietnam. Because of the international pressure, the aggression had to be abandoned and did not achieve its objective.

As far as Romania’s position is concerned, we also agree that it is a socialist country, but that at the same time it is not acting in solidarity. This attitude is damaging to us. It is providing hope to the imperialists. This is playing an important role in NATO’s concept, which is to count on so-called “hollow spaces” in the socialist community.

We have extensive state-to-state as well as party relations with Romania. We tell the Romanian comrades openly what we do not agree with. Our relations are continuing, and we extend them further, although the Romanian comrades have damaging positions. The unitary military leadership they have rejected for the Warsaw Pact, NATO actually already has for a long time.

As far as the Arab parties are concerned, we have good relations with all of them. For the Iraqi Communists it is very difficult, and the situation is very complicated. On the one hand Iraq is actively coming out against the Separate Treaty [Camp David] and is consequently supporting the interests of the Arab peoples, but on the other hand communists are murdered. I therefore have sent a message to President al-Bakr and openly told him our opinion on this. We are aware that the situation in the Middle East is very complicated, but our heart is definitely beating for the communists.

The meeting between Carter and Comrade Leonid Brezhnev is a good thing. We are harboring the hope that the meeting will have favorable impact on other processes.

We are not overlooking the actual planning of NATO. It is indicative to us that NATO is more geared towards war than towards détente. As it is known, Carter has still agreed before this meeting to build the inter-continental MX missiles, which will cost about 30 to 35 billion Dollars.

NATO has finalized its war plans and is building up its armaments. Even Federal Chancellor Schmidt is seeing a danger of war upcoming for the 1980s. He is of the opinion that in the context of dwindling oil resources and the subsequent economic contradictions, a new World War could emerge.

Based on the Moscow Conference of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Treaty states, we are obviously placing the questions of peace and the struggle for detente at the forefront. On the other hand, though we have to be prepared for other solutions.

We are of the opinion that you have to pursue a smart policy, where the facts and the factors serving the peace have to accumulate further. You have to approach the resolution of questions in this vein.

As far as Europe is concerned, we are also of the opinion that the 30th Anniversary is not just a matter for the GDR, but that the result of the post-war development is on display here.

In light of the revanchist developments in the FRG, all progressive forces have to be proud that there is such a development in the GDR.

Currently the FRG is already dominating in Western Europe. After the United States, the strongest military power has emerged there, which today is already stronger than Hitler’s Army. It is permeated by Hitler’s spirit. The bourgeoisie allows the bourgeois democracy to work as long as it [the democracy] serves its policy.

If the system no longer works, what happens then? What is going to happen when the Neo-Nazis will gain significant influence? A dismantling of the bourgeois democracy. Behind the veil of the Holocaust one has to see the scandal of the Majdanek Trial and look further.

After the United States, the FRG is also the strongest economic and military power of imperialism. It is making its impression on the development in Western Europe. We have pointed out this development in the meetings with the Comrades Marchais, Berlinguer, Carrillo, and with other comrades. The emergence of a union in Europe is containing all elements to guarantee that the opening towards socialism is becoming significantly more difficult. Conditions are created that actions against such a socialist opening are no longer understood as internal interference.

In the West European Parliamentary Elections [held from 7 to 10 June 1979] the dominance of the right is on display. The socialists and communists are a minority there.

Today the Bundeswehr [West German Armed Forces] has about 500,000 men. Together with the armed forces of the United States, Great Britain, and others there are 1 million [soldiers] in the FRG.

The Bundeswehr alone, however, is capable to mobilize 2 million men in two to three days. The exercises they are conducting on our borders are always designed in such a way that one can immediately transfer into a war.

As a result, it thus shows that they are talking about peace on one hand but in practice they are preparing for war.

We are also of the opinion that the results of Camp David especially serve towards securing and solidifying the U.S. presence in the Arab region. At the same time this has also led to the Arab states becoming firmer in their unified efforts, which has not the least triggered an energy crisis. However, the energy crisis is not primarily caused by the actions in the Middle East region, but it is the result of operations by multi-national monopolists. In the Soviet Union, in the GDR, and in the socialist countries there is no energy crisis, although we have to be using energy economically as well. The most important factor is here, though, that there are no people or groups among us who are interested in manipulating such things.

Our Republic will continue its path with consequence and determination. We have exactly coordinated with the Soviet Union the fundamental numbers for our development until 1985. This way our social policy is secured as well, as this is a determining factor of our security.

The GDR is located in the center if Europe and we are obligated to guarantee, especially here in our country, a stable development. Thus, it is not just in the interest of the German Democratic Republic and Europe, but in the interest of world peace.

This is why we are always seeking acceptable compromises to normalize relations with the FRG. However, those relations will always be looking like a fever curve, as does the case with detente.

We are not making concessions on fundamental issues. We know that the FRG has formally recognized the GDR, but that on the other hand it has not abandoned its fundamentally hostile objectives. They want a GDR without communists. The recognition of the state GDR and the non-recognition of the citizenship of the GDR, however, is a schizophrenic position that cannot be maintained permanently.

We are for detente and non-interference in the internal affairs of the other. However, we have to consider here the role of the relationship of the FRG with West Berlin. There are many conflict points here. We want a development without conflict as much as possible, but as long as the capitalist FRG exists, there will be no true normalization. This is why we must remain strong. We view our union between economic and social policy from that perspective.

As long as the process of detente continues in Europe, a large upswing is possible in our country. The adversary is attempting to influence our people in a nationalist direction. We are focusing on the socialist ideology and the education of our people in this vein.

Today we have an average growth of national income between 4 and 4.5 percent. Our industrial production is growing annually on average by 5 to 6 percent. The net monetary income of the population is increasing by 4 percent and the retail sector with constant prices is also rising by 4 percent.

We have three large programs with future perspectives. This is the residential program, which we have to solve until 1990. The second is the energy program until 1990, and the third are the tasks associated with the target programs of Comecon, which also extends to 1990 and contains specifically the coordination with the Soviet Union.

Comrade Honecker informed us in concrete details about our social-economic program. In conclusion, Comrade Honecker highlighted that all these things are the foundation for the attitude of the people in the GDR. They recognize that the GDR is the true representative of the interests of the workers and peasants, and that their state has come into existence here. This is also a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is important to establish clear conditions. This is particularly of importance in light of the situation that there are not only two German states, but that also West Berlin and Austria do exist.

Comrade Meir Vilner highlighted the unanimous opinion on all issues discussed. He added that it is important to emphasize and review this agreement on positions constantly and over again. The Communist Party of Israel, too, is firmly based on Leninist positions, also regarding the dictatorship of the proletariat. This, however, what is offered as a “historic compromise”, is not in accordance with the positions of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Comrade Erich Honecker noted that such opinions are meant to forego the power from the side of the proletariat. Either a party firmly advocates the interests of the working class and the power of the working class andt loses the trust of the monopolists, or it supports the side of the monopolists and their interests and loses the trust of the working class and the people’s masses. This has been shown already many times in practice.

Our party is fulfilling the traditions of the Communist Party of Germany [KPD] and the basic principle as outlined by Thälmann.

Comrade Meir Vilner thanked cordially for the extensive conversation.


[1] The material just arrived a few days ago and is currently in the process of translation.

The conversation starts with Honecker's report on the political and economic situation in the GDR. Meir Vilner informs Honecker about current events in Israel, especially about the position the Communist Party takes toward Zionism, and about his opinion on some foreign policy issues, namely relations with China and Romania and the Middle East peace process.

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BA-SAPMO J IV 2/2/1785, 17-45. Translated by Bernd Schaefer.


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Annex Memorandum of Conversation


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The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars