Primary Sources

Excerpt From the Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev


Following the state visit of Mikhail Gorbachev during East Germany's 40th anniversary (October 6 and 7, 1989), it was clear to many observers that East German leader Erich Honecker was on his way out. Demonstrations in Berlin, Leipzig, and elsewhere continued to grow. During Gorbachev's visit, crowds cheered "Gorbi, Gorbi!" and called for perestroika and glasnost for the GDR. During the week that followed the anniversary, the SED Politburo began the process to remove elderly (and sick) Honecker from office. This excerpt from Anatoly Chernyaev's diary (Gorbachev's chief foreign policy adviser) illustrates the high level of frustration and ill-will felt by Gorbachev toward Honecker and clearly demonstrates that Honecker had completely lost the support of Moscow. Honecker was ultimately replaced on October 18, 1989 by Egon Krenz.


Anatoly Chernyaev, diary entry, 11 October 1989, trans. Vladislav Zubok, Notes of Anatoly Chernyaev, The Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

I have read the record of conversation of M.S. [Gorbachev] with Honecker in Berlin. I spoke with him [Gorbachev] about this. Shakhnazarov was present. M.S. called Honecker an "asshole" [mudak]. He, Gorbachev added, could have said to his [East German] lieutenants: I have undergone four operations, I am 78 year old, the stormy time requires too much strength, let me go, I have done my job. Then he might have kept his place in history. Shakh[nazarov] and I voiced our doubts that even if he had done so he would have kept his place in history. 2-3 years ago it might have been possible. Today he has already been cursed by his people... The politburo [of the SED] is in session for the second day in Berlin. [future Honecker's successor Egon] Krenz has promised "to raise a question" about changes (to our Ambassador [Vyacheslav Kochemassov] for transmittal to Gorbaehev). Honecker warned him: [if you do it] you will become my enemy. However, Krenz seems to have taken the step. What is about to happen?

How to Cite this Source

Anatoly Chernyaev, "Excerpt From the Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev," Making the History of 1989, Item #423, (accessed September 19 2021, 9:58 am).