Quotations: communist leaders and ideas

This page contains a collection of Cold War quotations, made by political leaders, notable figures and historians, pertaining to communist leaders and ideas. These quotations have been researched and compiled by Alpha History authors. We welcome contributions and suggestions for these pages. If you would like to submit a quote, please contact Alpha History.

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”
Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, 1848

“The theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: the abolition of private property.”
Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, 1848

“God is on your side? Is he a conservative? The Devil is on my side, he’s a good communist.”
Joseph Stalin, Soviet leader, to Winston Churchill at Tehran, November 1943

“It has to look democratic, but we must have everything in [our] hand.”
Walter Ulbricht, East German leader, on the transition to socialism there, 1945

“‘All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’. This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means ‘All the peoples on the Earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and to be free’.”
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese nationalist, September 1945

“In the old Yugoslavia, national oppression by the [Serbs] meant strengthening the economic exploitation of the oppressed peoples… In the new, socialist Yugoslavia the existing equality of rights for all nationalities has made it impossible for one national group to impose economic exploitation upon another. That is because hegemony of one national group over another no longer exists in this country.”
Yosip Tito, Yugoslavian leader, November 1948

“Not just in China, but everywhere in the world without exception, one either leans to the side of imperialism or the side of socialism. Neutrality is mere camouflage; a third road does not exist.”
Mao Zedong, Chinese leader, 1949

“Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb, another with a rifle. If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow – and I won’t have to send a second.”
Yosip Tito, letter to Joseph Stalin, circa 1950

“Greece is a sort of American vassal. The Netherlands is the country where American bases grow like tulip bulbs. Cuba is the main sugar plantation of the American monopolies. Turkey is prepared to kowtow before any United States proconsul. And Canada is the boring second fiddle in the American symphony.”
Andrei Gromyko, Soviet foreign minister, June 1953

“The trouble with free elections is that you never know how they are going to turn out.”
Vyacheslav Molotov, Russian politician, 1954

“If you don’t like us then don’t accept our invitations and don’t invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you.”
Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet leader, November 1956

“In order to continuously strengthen the defence of our country, it is necessary that we keep the military preparedness of all structures at a high level and perfect it day by day.”
Enver Hoxha, Albanian dictator, 1956

“Ours is a humanist revolution… The capitalist sacrifices man; the communist state, because of its totalitarian nature, sacrifices the rights of man. That is why we take neither side.”
Fidel Castro, Cuban revolutionary, 1958

“I am not a dictator and I do not think I will become one. I will not maintain power with a machine gun.”
Fidel Castro, 1959

“Castro is like a young horse that hasn’t been broken. He needs some training, but he’s very spirited, so we will have to be careful.”
Nikita Khrushchev on Fidel Castro, 1960

“The United States hastens the delivery of arms to the puppet governments they see as being increasingly threatened. It makes them sign pacts of dependence to facilitate the shipment of instruments of repression and death, and of troops to use them.”
Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, South American socialist-revolutionary, April 1961

“In capitalist society, individuals are controlled by a pitiless law usually beyond their comprehension. The alienated human specimen is tied to society as a whole by an invisible umbilical cord: the law of [economic] value. This law acts upon all aspects of one’s life, shaping its course and destiny.”
Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, 1965

“We do not understand democracy in its bourgeois meaning – of babbling, lack of discipline, anarchy. We understand democracy as the active participation of the citizens in formulating and implementing the party’s policy.”
Nicolae Ceausescu, Romanian socialist leader, 1968

“There can be no justification [for] the use of armed forces to intervene in the internal affairs of a Warsaw Treaty member country. The solving of domestic problems belongs exclusively to the party and people of each country, and any kind of interference can only do harm to the cause of socialism.”
Nicolae Ceausescu on the Prague Spring, August 1968

“President Kennedy once said… that the United States had the nuclear missile capacity to wipe out the Soviet Union two times over, while the Soviet Union had enough atomic weapons to wipe out the United States only once… I said jokingly, “Yes, he’s quite right. But I’m not complaining… We’re satisfied to be able to finish off the United States first time around. Once is quite enough. What good does it do to annihilate a country twice? We’re not a bloodthirsty people.”
Nikita Khrushchev, writing in his memoirs, 1974

“The Soviet people are better off materially and richer spiritually.”
Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet leader, 1976

“Washington’s adventuristic policy, whipping up international tension to the utmost, is pushing mankind towards nuclear catastrophe.”
Konstantin Chernenko, Soviet leader, 1984

“The foetus is the property of the entire society. Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity.”
Nicolae Ceausescu, speaking on Romanian social policy, 1984

“Democracy is the wholesome and pure air without which a socialist public organisation cannot live a full-blooded life.”
Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet leader, 1986

“It is a lie that I made the people starve. A lie, a lie in my face… [There was] so much construction, so much consolidation in the Romanian provinces. I guaranteed that every village has its schools, hospitals and doctors. I have done everything to create a decent and rich life for the people in the country, like in no other country in the world.”
Nicolae Ceausescu, Romanian dictator, 1989

“I want also to address thanks to the organisers of this great event in Bucharest, considering it to be… What? No, wait… Comrades, stay quiet. Comrades!”
Nicolae Ceausescu, during his final address before being toppled from power, 1989

“In [East Germany] each person had a place. All children could attend school free of charge, they received vocational training or studied, and were guaranteed a job after training. Work was more than just a means to earn money. Men and women received equal pay for equal work and performance. Equality for women was not just on paper. Care for children and the elderly was the law. Medical care was free, cultural and leisure activities affordable. Social security was a matter of course. We knew no beggars or homelessness. There was a sense of solidarity.”
Margot Honecker, East German politician, speaking in 2015