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Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 87: Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev regarding Mikhail Gorbachev’s Visit to the GDR, October 5, 1989

Traduction de Anna Melyakova

Texte intégral

1This diary entry, written on the eve of Gorbachev’s visit to an East Germany in crisis, describes the Soviet leader as anxious and ambivalent about the radical changes underway in Eastern Europe, yet determined not to say anything that will prop up the hard-line Honecker. Chernyaev knows what the drafters of American national security policy at this time do not, that “the total dismantling of socialism as a factor of world development is underway”—and it is a spectacle Chernyaev applauds. Here is striking proof of the profound radicalization of political thinking that is unfolding inside the reform-minded echelons of the Soviet political elite. Chernyaev has by now resolved his personal doubts in favor of supporting the anti-communist “revolutions” in Eastern Europe. However, while he clearly sees the future of the Soviet Union on the path of total rejection of the Leninist-Stalinist legacy, Gorbachev’s own thinking in this period is more complex and, unlike Chernyaev, is not completely free from the “syndrome of Leninism.” In particular, Gorbachev still seems to nurture an ideological belief in “democratic socialism” as a road for Eastern Europe, and the GDR in particular.


2Tomorrow M.S. is flying to the GDR for its 40th anniversary. He really does not want to. He called me twice, said that he polished his speech to the letter, knowing that they will be examining it under a microscope… there is not a word in support of Honecker […] but he will support the [GDR] Republic and revolution.

3Today in Dresden 20,000 people came out to demonstrate. Yesterday in Leipzig there were even more. We are receiving information that during Gorbachev’s visit they will storm the Wall. There were terrible scenes surrounding a special GDR refugee train passing through Dresden on the way from Prague. The West-German TV recorded this and is showing it in the GDR. The Western press is brimming with articles on the “reunification” of Germany.

4Tomorrow a Congress of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party [HSWP] in Budapest will declare the self-liquidation of the “Socialist Hungarian People’s Republic.” Needless to mention Poland: the Polish United Workers Party not only lost power, but it is doubtful whether it will survive till its next Congress in February.

5In a word, a total dismantling of socialism as a factor of world development is underway. Maybe this is inevitable and good. For this is a matter of humanity uniting on the basis of common sense. And this process was started by a regular guy from Stavropol.

6Perhaps Thatcher is right when she admires him precisely because she thinks that “in his heart” he envisioned the self-liquidation of a society that is alien to human nature and the natural order of things.

7It is another matter […] whether Russia needed the year 1917 […] and once again (!) our great sacrifices so that humanity would come to this conclusion.

8[Source: Anatoly Chernyaev’s Diary, Manuscript. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Anna Melyakova.]

© Central European University Press, 2010

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