My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love

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My God, Help Me to Survive this Deadly Love
Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev locked in a mouth-to-mouth kiss with East German leader Erich Honecker above the legend My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love
ArtistDmitri Vrubel
Year1990 (1990)
Dimensions365 cm × 480 cm (143.7 in × 189 in)
LocationEast Side Gallery, Berlin

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love (Russian: «Го́споди! Помоги́ мне вы́жить среди́ э́той сме́ртной любви́», romanizedGóspodi! Pomogí mne výzhit' sredí étoy smértnoy lyubví; German: Mein Gott, hilf mir, diese tödliche Liebe zu überleben), sometimes referred to as the Fraternal Kiss (German: Bruderkuss), is a graffiti painting by Dmitri Vrubel on the eastern side Berlin wall. Painted in 1990, it has become one of the best known pieces of Berlin wall graffiti art. The painting depicts Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker in a socialist fraternal kiss, reproducing a photograph taken in 1979 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic.


The photograph capturing the embrace was taken by Régis Bossu in East Berlin on October 7, 1979.[1] It was widely republished.[2] Brezhnev was visiting East Germany at the time to celebrate the anniversary of its founding as a Communist nation.[3] On October 5, East Germany and the Soviet Union had signed a ten-year agreement of mutual support under which East Germany would provide ships, machinery and chemical equipment to the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union would provide fuel and nuclear equipment to East Germany.[4]

The photo's copyright is held by the Corbis Corporation.[1]

The photograph
Condition of the Mural on July 25, 1991
Condition of the mural in 2005
Dmitri Vrubel during restoration in June 2009
Restoration nearly complete
The mural fully restored on 18 August 2009
The photograph the mural is based on, followed by the mural as it appeared in various conditions. The words at the top read "God! help me stay alive"; and continue at the bottom "Among this mortal love."


Vrubel created the painting in 1990 on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Berlin Wall graffiti art existed only on the western side.[5] Vrubel attempted to obtain permission to paint on the eastern side, but the East German Ministry of National Defence disclaimed responsibility for the Wall. Instead, he found a "Scottish girl" selling "permits" to paint on the Wall, and he signed a contract that gave up all of his rights to the painting.[6]

Along with other murals in the section, the painting continued in display after the wall was taken down, but vandalism and atmospheric conditions gradually led to its deterioration.[7] In March 2009, the painting, along with others, was erased from the wall to allow the original artists to repaint them with more durable paints. Vrubel was commissioned to repaint the piece, donating the 3000 fee he was paid to a social art project in Marzahn.[2]

In terms of style, there are slight differences between the 1990 and remade 2009 murals, and Vrubel has admitted he committed technical mistakes on the original piece due to inexperience with the method. The main message did not change despite the artist's doubts that Berliners would perceive it differently.[6] The main difference between the first and second "Kiss" is the use of lines and color, which improved in the 2009 version giving it a more realistic appearance.

Photographer Bossu and Vrubel met in 2009 and were photographed together on 16 June with reproductions of their works.[2][8]

Critical reception[edit]

My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love has become one of the best known works of graffiti art on the Berlin Wall.[9][10] According to Anthony Read and David Fisher, the painting is "particularly striking, with a sharp, satirical edge."[11] It was also widely criticized on creation as a straightforward reproduction of the photograph that inspired it.[12]

In a 2014 interview, the artist explained how the location and characters give meaning to the painting: "In this painting, there's one German and one Russian, and the Berlin Wall is about the same thing but in reverse: here [in the painting], there's total love, while the Berlin Wall separates two worlds – it was a perfect fit." He wanted to create a "wow" factor but did not expect the success it had.[13]

Prominent derivative works include Make Everything Great Again, a 2016 Lithuanian mural of Russian president Vladimir Putin and United States president Donald Trump in a similar pose,[14][15][16] and a 2016 mural in Bristol featuring Donald Trump and pro-Brexit campaigner and British Member of Parliament Boris Johnson[17] in the run-up to the 2016 referendum.


  1. ^ a b "Kiss of Soviet Leader Brezhnev and East German President Honecker". Corbis. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2011. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker kiss on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republics.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  2. ^ a b c Clemens, Jochen (November 22, 2009). "Die längste Open-Air-Galerie der Welt. Die Geschichte eines Gemäldes: Der Bruderkuss" [The story of a painting: The brother kiss]. Welt Online (in German).
  3. ^ Vinocur, John (October 5, 1979). "Brezhnev Arrives in East Germany For 30th Anniversary Celebration; Ceausescu Is Not Expected". The New York Times. East Berlin. p. A8. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522.
  4. ^ Vinocur, John (October 6, 1979). "Soviet and East Germans Sign an Economic Pact". The New York Times. East Berlin. p. 30. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522.
  5. ^ Trubachev, Veniamin (13 November 2019). "A Concrete, Communist Kiss That Was 'All About Love'". Current Time. This work was painted on that part of the Berlin Wall where painting was banned. That is, the part of the Berlin Wall that was in the east, on the East Berlin side. On the western side, everything was painted.
  6. ^ a b Borzenko, Andrey. "Brotherly love: 25 years on, the artist behind the iconic Berlin Wall mural tells his story". The Calvert Journal. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  7. ^ Göbel, Malte (March 27, 2009). "Kiss of Death. Officials Erase Historic Berlin Wall Mural". Spiegel Online. Der Spiegel online.
  8. ^ Schwarz, Tobias (Jun 16, 2009). "Russian artist Dmitry Vrubel and photographer Regis Bossu pose before restoration work on a segment of the East Side Gallery". Berlin: 2space. Reuters. Archived from the original on June 5, 2016.
  9. ^ Major, Patrick (2009). Behind the Berlin Wall: East Germany and the frontiers of power. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-19-924328-0.
  10. ^ Tagliabue, John (April 7, 1991). "What divides Berlin now?". The New York Times Magazine. N. Y.: The New York Times Company. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522.
  11. ^ Read, Anthony; Fisher, David (1994). Berlin: the biography of a city. London: Hutchinson. p. 308. ISBN 978-0-09-178021-0.
  12. ^ Minaev, Boris (October 27, 2003). Дмитрий Врубель дважды попадал под колесо истории: Когда нарисовал целующихся Брежнева и Хонеккера на Берлинской стене и когда начал рисовать Владимира Путина [Dmitri Vrubel got himself twice upon the wheel of history: When portrayed Brezhnev kissing Honecker on the Berlin Wall, and when began to paint Vladimir Putin]. Ogonyok (in Russian). Moscow: Pravda (39): 41. ISSN 0131-0097. OCLC 1761076. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved May 29, 2011. Многие тогда говорили: да какая это картина, просто взял и перерисовал фотографию, но тем не менее это была картина, причем великая, и у нее было название, между прочим — «Господи, помоги мне выжить среди этой смертной любви»
  13. ^ Borzenco, Andrey. "Brotherly love: 25 years on, the artist behind the iconic Berlin Wall mural tells his story". The Calvert Journal. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Putin kissing Trump mural goes viral". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  15. ^ "Street Mural of Donald Trump Kissing Vladimir Putin Goes Viral". Time. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  16. ^ Taylor, Adam (May 13, 2016). "The Putin-Trump kiss being shared around the world". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  17. ^ Said-Moorhouse, Lauren. "Donald Trump and Boris Johnson pucker up in street art". CNN. Retrieved 2017-11-29.