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ne of the most famous kisses in history was between the communist leader Erich Honecker and the Soviet Leonid Brezhnev. The world-famous event took place during the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic in 1979. The leaders who decided the fate of half of Europe met symbolically in front of the Berlin Wall. Leonid Brezhnev had been invited by the representative of the communist power in the GDR, Eric Honecker, to celebrate 30 years since the birth of the eastern half of Germany. Berlin was preparing for the holiday by communist standards.

After going up to the official rostrum together and the Soviet leader delivered his speech, he turned to Eric Honecker, hugged, and then, to the surprise of the whole world and the delight of the photojournalists, the two leaders kissed each other for a long time. The moment was perfectly immortalized by the photographer Regis Bossu. Publications from all over the world took the picture and called it simple but essential “The Kiss”.

Erich Honecker

Erich Honecker (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Erich Ernst Paul Honecker was the General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. His role demanded him to work very closely with Moscow which made sure of his safety by sending an army to East Germany. From a very young age, Erich although grown in a fascist political system he was indoctrinated by his father into liking communism. This was because his father was part of a communist party before World War 2 broke out, whilst being an ordinary miner.

At the age of only 14, Erich joined the communist youth movement and made many illegal activities that were pro-communist. In 1935 he was caught by the Gestapo and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for all of his crimes against the Nazi party. In 1945 when the Soviet Army took over Germany, he was liberated by them and respected as a true communist who understood the socialistic aspect of communism, despite being a western. He was loved by the Soviets for how well he controlled East Germany as well as for making East Germany one of the most prosperous parts of the Soviet Eastern bloc.

Leonid Brezhnev

Leonid Brezhnev (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Leonid Brezhnev is considered one of the best leaders during the Cold War as well as the reign of the USSR. Born in Ukraine, Leonid had been born as a true communist with 18 of his years spent as a general secretary. Many western historians depict him as not such a good leader as he did allow a lot of corruption to go on at the time, but such historians need to understand that corruption is part of the Eastern European culture. It is the sort of balance that kept people in line in such a harsh, communistic system.

Apart from that, he brought what in my opinion was the most highly needed function within the Soviet political system and that was political stability as well as good diplomacy with other big nations around the world. Brezhnev made a real connection with Erich as they both loved the idea of communism from a young age. Leonid joined the communist party youth league at the age of 17, this represents how both in a way fought for the same ideology, and the same goal from a young age.

The Socialist Fraternal Kiss

The kiss, however, is a symbol of communist political culture. The “socialist fraternal kiss” is in fact a seal of an understanding between two leaders or a sign of a close bond between the two countries they represent. Kissing is often practiced on the cheek in most cases. The tradition comes from the Orthodox Church and is a form of daily expression of the close bond between community members. For communist political leaders, this kiss was a formality. The socialist fraternal kiss was also practiced by Mikhail Gorbachev, also with the German Honecker.

The Kiss of Death graffiti on the Berlin Wall (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

When the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989, Soviet artist Dmitry Vrubel decided to paint a reinterpretation of the two’s kiss. The graffiti on the ruins of the wall was called by the artist “The Kiss of Death”, but on the edge of the image is written: “God help me to survive this mortal love.”

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