The Kiss of Brezhnev and Honecker, Barbara Klemm, 1979

Everyone who grew up in the USSR remembers the eternal kiss of members of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, foreign guests with the head of the USSR, the chairman of that Presidium – Leonid Brezhnev.

The most famous kiss of our amorous General Secretary of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev was reflected in the world’s photographic art, thanks to German photojournalist Barbara Klemm. In 1979 she photographed Brezhnev’s visit in honor of the 30th anniversary of the GDR. There she captured the famous government kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Eric Honecker, the leader of the GDR.

The photographer had no idea that “The Kiss of Brezhnev and Honecker” would later be redrawn by D. Vrubel, a Russian artist, and, the graffiti would end up on a fragment of the surviving Berlin Wall – becoming one of the visual symbols of the twentieth century. “Lord! Help me to survive in the midst of this mortal love,” or otherwise known as “The Brotherly Kiss.” One of the most famous graffiti in the world.

Who was Brezhnev kissing? Eric Honecker. He was friends with Fidel Castro, Wojciech Jaruzelski, Gustav Husak, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, and kissed them all upon meeting and parting. It went like this – first on both cheeks and then on the mouth. Go dodge and refuse.

Kissing Leonid Brezhnev was a major trend in the USSR during his 18 years in office as General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee.One of the famous names for such a kiss is the Triple Brezhnev.

To be restored! On the Berlin Wall, this painting will be repainted. Like many other graffiti, it was destroyed. But dozens of artists whose murals adorned the symbol of Germany’s split 20 years ago will soon descend on Berlin to renew their creations for the anniversary of the fall of the wall.

“Lord, help me to survive” was all that survived. There was still “in the midst of this mortal love,” and Brezhnev kissing Honecker. The famous photograph, transferred to the Berlin Wall in ’90 by the artist Dmitri Vrubel, disappeared suddenly and irrevocably. This portrait, as well as other drawings, were mixed with the concrete dust. “We approached, and there was only a piece of writing left. The vulgar word is ‘shock,’ but in that moment I understood what shock was,” Dmitry Vrubel admits.

This is called “sanitation” or “recuperation. While some workers are mending the cracks, others are making new holes. The longest remaining section of the wall is being maintained by an organization called East Side Gallery. Artist Kani Alavi oversees the work. He, too, painted on the wall and let his painting go under the sandblaster. “The wall is in very poor condition. We fought for a long time for the right to completely reconstruct it,” the artist says. – That’s exactly what we’re doing now. By October 3, everything will be ready.”

In 1979, Leonid Brezhnev came to Berlin to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the GDR. Barbara Klemm, a journalist for the West German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, was at the event because someone got confused and thought she was from the GDR’s Frankfurt/Oder. The next day, a masterpiece of political eroticism flew around the world’s front pages. Those who came up with the idea of repairing the wall promise to restore everything as it was.
“I’m in charge of getting the artists to gather around the wall again and paint it again,” says artist Jörg Weber. – That’s almost a hundred people. They have to be provided with special paints that will be more durable and resistant to the environment.”

In the 19 years that have passed since the wall was painted, someone and something was constantly added to it. Ten years ago the paintings were restored, but by the time of the current renovation they had lost their appearance again. Now, they say, there will be sensors: if someone comes at night to paint, a polite voice will ask him not to. There will be no warning that the police are on their way.

Money at the Berlin Wall today is lying around underfoot. For a piece of it in a souvenir shop they ask for 5 euros. The wall has become dilapidated – that’s a fact. And maybe to save the paintings, they should have been destroyed first. But in ’90, when artists were allowed in here, it was a special moment of inspiration – the end of the Cold War. Now the original of that mood is lost. And, at best, only a copy of it will appear here.

The historic kiss is now 33 years old this year. Ten years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, in October 1979, Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, and Erich Honecker, general secretary of the SED, sealed the brotherly love between the USSR and the GDR with a long and strong kiss.

Since then, it has become fashionable among the leaders of different nations to kiss each other on the basis of the convergence of political courses. Although the idea is not new: already in ancient Rome, the host gave the guest wine from his own lips to show that it was not poisoned.