Socialist fraternal kiss

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Graffiti painting from 1990 on the Berlin Wall called "My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love"

The socialist fraternal kiss or Brotherhood Kiss was a special form of greeting between the statesmen of the so-called Eastern Bloc. It consists of an embrace and a mutual kiss (or kisses) to cheeks or in rarer cases to the mouth.

With this act, a special connection between Socialist states was intended to be demonstrated. Both the embrace and the kiss were supposed to be the expression of happiness, fraternity and equality, and were otherwise a transformation of a known ritual and symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The fraternal kiss became famous via Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev, who were photographed exercising the ritual. The photograph became widespread and it was subsequently transformed into a graffiti painting on the Berlin Wall named My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love.


The origin of this ritual stems from the Eastern Orthodox Fraternal- or Easter Kiss, which through its entrenchment in the rites of the Orthodox Church carried a substantial strength of expression and so found use in daily life.

As a symbol of equality, fraternity and solidarity, the socialist fraternal kiss was the expression of the pathos and enthusiasm of the emergent Workers' movement between the middle and end of the 19th century. In the years after the October Revolution and the subsequent Communist International, a ritualisation of the so far spontaneous gist succeeded into an official greeting between Communist comrades. The symbolic reinforcement of the feeling of camaraderie also gained success through the fact that many Communists and Socialists had to make long, arduous and dangerous trips to then the isolated Bolshevik Russia. That way the much-experienced international Solidarity found expression in stormy embraces and kisses.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, the use of the ritual declined.

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