Primary Sources

Soviet Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Egon Krenz


The new Secretary General of East Germany, Egon Krenz, traveled to Moscow on November 1, 1989 to meet in person with Gorbachev and assess the situation in East Germany and discuss possible paths forward. Throughout the lengthy meeting, Krenz and Gorbachev spoke openly about the challenges that now faced the GDR. Gorbachev, for the most part, remained hopeful that the new GDR leadership could instigate the necessary reforms that would save the GDR from complete collapse. Here, it is quite interesting to note just how steadfast Gorbachev remained in 1989 to the ideals of socialism and the necessity to defend those ideals against the magnetic appeal of capitalism. Also interesting is the personal nature of Gorgachev's observations about leaders in the East and West.

Egon Krenz was also straightforward in his assessment of the situation in the GDR. Like Gorbachev, Krenz remained optimistic that the GDR could withstand the hardships brought about by reform and emerge from the crisis in a better position. One might note that the German notes from this meeting are far longer and richer in detail than the Soviet notes and that these notes focus more on Gorbachev than Krenz.

See also the East German notes from this same meeting here.


Mikhail Gorbachev, conversation with Egon Krenz, 1 November 1989, trans. Svetlana Savranskaya, Notes of A. S. Chernyaev, Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt


Gorbachev: The Soviet people are very interested in everything that is going on now in the GDR. We hope to get the most recent information from you, although, of course, we know a lot. The situation in the GDR, judging by everything we see, is moving at an increasing speed. Is there a danger of getting left behind the reforms? Remember, we said in Berlin [2] that to be behind is always to lose. We know that from our own experience.


Krenz: We have already taken a number of steps. First of all, we gave orders to the border troops not to use weapons at the border, except in the cases of direct attacks on the soldiers. Secondly, we adopted a draft of Law on Foreign Travel at the Politburo. [3] We will present it for a public discussion, and we plan to pass it in the Volkskammer even before Christmas. [...]

Gorbachev: Kohl was visibly worried when I mentioned the perverse interpretation of some of our agreements with the FRG in my 8 October speech in Berlin. He immediately gave me a telephone call regarding that.

Krenz: Yes, he is worried; I noticed it in my conversation with him. He was even forgetting to finish phrases.

Gorbachev: Kohl, it seems, is not a big intellectual, but he enjoys certain popularity in his country, especially among the petit-bourgeois public.

How to Cite this Source

Mikhail Gorbachev, "Soviet Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Egon Krenz," Making the History of 1989, Item #436, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:27 pm).

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