The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Acting Secretary of State
2497. Although punch line Soviet note re Germany (Embtel 2475, October 11) is statement penultimate paragraph “new situation has [Page 281] been created in Germany at present time,” thus establishing for the record basis for Soviet freedom of action, text of note does not in itself give decisive hint as to what steps Soviets likely take in response our initiative in encouraging formation Bonn Government. Coming at critical juncture various problems in which Soviets have considerable stake (Yugoslavia, China, atomic energy, “peace campaign,” Austria, not to mention NAT and MAP), Embassy believes that Soviet note represents more than propaganda gesture and may be intended lay groundwork for carefully worked out move or series of moves calculated counter our perceptible progress Western Europe and Germany and advance Soviet Communist cause this area. In view favorable atomic energy and China positions Soviet may feel they have chosen opportune time this step toward regaining initiative on German question.
Our observers in Germany obviously in better position evaluate significance Soviet note in light internal developments there, but fact that top German Communist leaders have recently visited Moscow (Embtel 2412, September 262) indicates that they consulted on Soviet note and points emphasis direction Germany itself, possibly foreshadowing establishment Eastern German government claiming right speak for and represent all Germany and related renewed pressure force Western powers out of Berlin. Difficult see how last objective would be achieved in view our successful display determination remain last year, but Soviet may feel that their peace campaign plus atomic announcement and presumed economic difficulties Western world justify renewed attempt probe possibilities without real military risks. Mention of Ruhr and reference all-Germany economic unit may be intended as hint of forthcoming economic measures to weaken Western German Government. In fact, though bulk of note covers alleged violations by Western powers of understandings re Germany, closing paragraphs seem constitute warning to Bonn Government itself that no matter what Western powers have done in failing observe Potsdam Agreement, Soviets will insist on fulfillment by Germany of obligations imposed therein (reparations, demilitarization, et cetera).
Reference in note to policy of Western powers reflecting “aspiration certain imperialistic circles use Western Germany as place d’armes for enactment aggressive plans” and thus “turning Western Germany into new center of unrest in Europe” may be more than familiar propaganda re warmongering. Soviet treaties with satellites and Soviet military position in Eastern Europe generally all related on paper to possible threat from resurgent Germany. It is conceivable that Soviet note intended as first step in military moves ostensibly related “danger” [Page 282] from Western Germany place d’armes but actually designed for decisive settlement Yugoslav difficulty and to bolster Soviet position in satellites.
Necessary in view present peace campaign give any such military action defensive appearance.
Though Soviets apparently ruffled by UNGA developments re Yugoslavia and China (USUN telegram 12 October 1 to Moscow3), and their allegations re our violation Potsdam might be considered as balancing Chinese Nationalists charges re Sino-Soviet 1945 Treaty, Embassy doubts Soviets will follow their note with reference German question to UNGA since majority UN members certain to take line unfavorable Soviet claims. Berlin question understood still on SC agenda, but implications Soviet note broader, and difficult see what Soviets would get out of SC debate now. More likely connection between UN and Soviet note is that it is calculated force early CFM meeting on Germany in view presence Foreign Ministers New York for UNGA.
Despite foregoing speculations as to course of action which Soviets may follow in Europe in consequence this démarche on German question, Embassy unable envisage any Soviet action short of military (which believed unlikely) which would in near future decisively break political stalemate in Germany their favor. Possibility should therefore not be overlooked that Soviets wish by this maneuver distract our attention from serious problems facing us in Asia as result Chinese developments.
Sent Department 2497, Department pass Berlin 216, London 272, Paris 352, Frankfort 33.