862.00/10–1349: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Barbour) to the Secretary of State


2575. While Soviet-sponsored “all German” Government certainly comes as no surprise (compare Embtel 774, March 291) and presumably makes little immediate difference to over-all German situation, it raises number interesting questions:

As at time Paris CFM, Soviet-Communist position Germany continues weak in comparison western powers. Hence, latest Soviet move, despite accompanying propaganda claims, represents lead from weakness rather than strength, particularly as shown unwillingness risk popular elections and consequent necessity utilize Volksrat based far from-impressive Peoples’ Congress voting of last May.

Despite government’s national pretensions, “observer” representation being accorded Berlin (Berlin’s 1423 to Department October 82) suggests Soviets anxious avoid giving western powers excuse incorporate western sectors into west German state. We doubt that formation new government will be followed by any immediate changes status Berlin, though if Soviets make any move incorporate Berlin or otherwise disturb western position, believe recommendation contained Deptel 1966 to Frankfort October 53 should be immediately carried out. At same time political tension in Berlin seems bound to rise in view continued presence western powers in face location new government. Some local observers believe formation this new government indicates Soviets have given up hope unifying Germany near future and will instead press radically ahead in open transformation Soviet zone into peoples democracy. Embassy is inclined question this view, especially on account government’s national pretensions, terms of constitution and strong continuation national front movement. Though Soviets will continue in effect simultaneously ride two horses (Bolshevization their zone and winning all Germany), we feel Kremlin’s aims in far more important western zones (including Ruhr), [Page 534]have not diminished, for which reason recent tactical line of comparative moderation, e.g., allegations that Soviet zone not a peoples democracy, will probably be continued (Embtel 332, February 10 and page 11 enclosure despatch 443, August 44). Soviets presumably hope new government and accompanying national front movement will prove more effective in realizing their all-German objectives, at same time constituting valuable counter in any future negotiations with western powers re German unification. In fact, national front movement increasingly represents application classic Stalinist strategy of “national liberation movement,” in this case directed against imperialist western occupation powers and reminiscent “national Bolshevism” of 1920’s.

Formation new government should enable Soviets put forward more progressive proposals than at Paris CFM when could only suggest all-German state council. Minimum Soviet position re provisional all-German government would presumably now be modelled their demand re Berlin made Paris, i.e., equal representation Bonn and new Soviet zone government. Latter’s establishment now presumably makes prospects any real agreement another CFM even less than before (compare Embtel 2293, September 135). Presume however that, having just launched this new government, Soviets not be interested in any immediate CFM re Germany, desiring instead time to get new regime properly established. Demand for CFM has been barely mentioned in connection establishment new government (only as part of item 2 agenda, ninth and last session People’s Council October 7).

At same time, certain possible moves suggest themselves, by which Soviets might hope increase stature and popularity new government and at same time national front movement which it hopes develop western zones. While paragraph 21 of national front manifesto clearly implies new government must discharge Soviet reparation claims, Soviets may be planning, in view vast plant removals and shipments already obtained, eventual settlement under which new stooge government will apparently be left only minor obligations (with real exploitation German economy continuing via present Soviet-owned concerns and under terms Soviet-German trade agreements adopted, as in case eastern European satellites). When and if repatriation remaining German PW’s from Soviet Union is decided, new government may attempt gain kudos by directing appropriate appeal which Moscow will promptly “grant” (despite Soviet promise complete repatriation by end 1949—reference Embtel 178, January 245—numerous PW’s still in evidence in and around Moscow and reported by recent travellers other parts Soviet Union, as result which Embassy inclined doubt [Page 535]Soviets will actually complete repatriation by year’s end). Transformation SMA into Control Commission and “transfer” its former powers to new government are clearly aimed at scoring against much-criticized western occupation statute (Embtel 774, March 29). Some sort of decorative “diplomatic relations” may be established with Soviet Union and Peoples’ Democracies, as well possibly as acceptance new government into Council Economic Mutual Aid (paragraph 9 of national front manifesto emphasizes encouragement of trade with “Germany’s natural trade partners”). On basis population Soviet zone alone, new government should rate high in comparison with some other European satellite states, while its national pretensions make it potentially largest “People’s Democracy” in Europe. Possible that this process of Germany’s rehabilitation could be even further stretched by phoney “peace treaty,” accompanied either by mutual aid pact under which Red Army remained eastern Germany for protection, or—if people’s police sufficiently developed meanwhile—actual withdrawal Soviet forces on pattern Korea. Seems more probable however that, for reasons mentioned Embtels 774 and 2293, such moves are still impractical and Soviets far from ready for any real withdrawal, except perhaps from their sector Berlin. In view present temper city’s inhabitants, latter move should not put too much pressure on western powers to follow suit. In any case, vague propaganda demands for peace treaty and complete withdrawal will now be redoubled.

New government’s necessity to endorse unconditionally Oder–Neisse boundary should serve as effective millstone around its neck, and western powers should utilize every opportunity keep this issue alive, at least in terms advanced Secretary Marshall at Moscow 1947 CFM.6

Sent Department 2575. Department pass Frankfort 46, Berlin 225, London 282, Paris 365 for Ambassador Kirk.

  1. Ante, p. 511.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Ante, p. 399.
  4. Neither printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. For documentation relating to Secretary Marshall’s position on the Oder–Neisse boundary of Germany expressed at the fourth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Moscow, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. ii, pp. 139 ff.