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March 29, 1988

Telegram from Wolfgang Bayerlacher to Erich Honecker, conveying a Message from Mengistu Haile Mariam

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


[GDR Embassy in Ethiopia]

Addis Abeba Instant Message

gvs-t-b 7/111- 17/88   First copy 1 page


Comrade Erich Honecker

On 29 March I was called by phone at 7:45 hours to meet with Comrade Mengistu. The private conversation was only joined by his personal assistant and interpreter Girma Becher.

At the beginning, Comrade Mengistu just remarked that the Ethiopian revolution is currently at a very critical stage. Thus he does request to submit to Comrade Erich Honecker the following message, which Mengistu read out orally based on notes:

Dear Comrade Honecker!

The revolution, which we have built up together, has unexpectedly met the danger of breaking down.

As one does say, history is repeating itself.

We have reached a situation where we have to field again the request for support to the party, government, and people of the GDR, and to you personally.

The situation is very serious. The time we have on our hands is very limited.

In light of the critical situation that has arisen, and with the goal to overcome this, we have made the decision to mobilize all the revolutionary forces and all reserves of our country.

I am asking you to provide the following support:

- 100,000 light machine guns RPD[1]

- 2,000 PKM[2] machine guns

- 50,000 uniforms

- 500 IFA[3] trucks

Everything is needed urgently and will be paid by us. Commercial agreements about these deliveries should be signed at a later point.

I am asking you to transport the requested arms and uniforms by air.

Mengistu Haile Mariam

In closing, Comrade Mengistu asked to inform him personality immediately after a response has been received.

Comrade Mengistu did receive me in uniform. He looked extremely serious and concerned.

Asking for instruction. 

[Wolfgang] Bayerlacher

[GDR Ambassador to Ethiopia]

28 March, 10:00 Hours


[1] Translator’s note: A 7.62 mm light machine gun developed in the Soviet Union by Vasily Degtyaryov.

[2] Translator’s note: The Soviet-designed ‘Kalashnikov’ general-purpose machine gun.

[3] Translator’s note: GDR Truck Combine.

Request by the Ethiopian leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, for immediate delivery of weapons to support the government in the Ethiopian civil war.

Document Information


SAPMO-BA, PDS IV 2/2.039/298. Translated by Bernd Schaefer.


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