CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 179: CFMP Series

Paper Prepared by the Division of Research for Europe1


CFMP D–3/3

The Soviet Approach at the Meeting of the C.F.M.

The ultimate Soviet objective in Germany is complete economic and political domination. The immediate prerequisite to the attainment of this objective is the prevention of Western Germany’s integration into the economic and political structure of Western Europe. This is consonant with Moscow’s over-all aim of preventing integration of Western Europe under US leadership.
In seeking to prevent the integration of Western Germany into the Western European system, the Soviet Union has in the past concentrated upon attempting to block the establishment of a Western German state as the first step in this process.
In opposing the Western German state, the USSR has been less concerned with the establishment of a political form than with the role that a viable Western German state would play in the Western European system. The formation of a Western German state as a political subdivision of Germany, rather than as a separate entity, although objectionable to the USSR, could nevertheless be reconciled [Page 910] with Moscow’s aim of preventing the integration of Western Germany into Western Europe.
The Soviet blockade was designed to eliminate influence of the Western powers in Berlin and to bring about a modification of their plans for Western Germany, which at that stage centered primarily on the formation of a Western German state.
This was clearly revealed by Stalin and Molotov during the Moscow negotiations in July–August 1948.2
Stalin publicly expressed the Soviet desire to trade the lifting of the blockade for a postponement of the Western German state in his statement to Kingsbury Smith on January 30, 1949.3
The Soviet blockade failed to achieve its purposes. On the contrary, it not only hastened the formation of a Western German state, but engendered counterpressure on the Soviet Union, and widened the gap between the Soviet and Western positions concerning Germany.
Since the Western powers refused to negotiate on Germany with the USSR so long as the blockade remained in force, the Soviet Union faced a stalemate with respect to broad phases of the German question.
The Soviet blockade and the Western counterblockade increased the economic separation of Germany and in so doing facilitated execution of US economic policy toward Eastern Europe. The Western counter-blockade also created economic difficulties in the Soviet Zone of Germany and in Eastern Europe.
Soviet political plans in Eastern Germany encountered increased difficulties. The success of the airlift prevented the Socialist Unity Party (SED) from extending its influence over the Western sectors of Berlin.
The tension resulting from the blockade of Berlin served to intensify Western efforts to conclude the North Atlantic Treaty and to undertake a rearmament program. The Western airlift served to stiffen Western German opposition to the Soviet Union.
The lifting of the blockade marks a tactical failure for the USSR, but Soviet willingness to accept this defeat does not in itself constitute a reversal of Soviet policy in Germany. In return for a loss of prestige, the USSR obtains certain actual and potential advantages for its basic strategy of preventing the integration of Western Germany into Western Europe.
The USSR extricated itself from an increasingly embarrassing tactical commitment and indeed achieved one of the purposes of the [Page 911] blockade, namely, to bring about a reopening of the entire German question on the CFM level. Thus, the USSR has regained freedom for new diplomatic maneuvers concerning not only Germany but also East-West relations in general.
Conversely the Western powers face not only the loss of certain direct benefits derived from the blockade for their policy in Germany and Western Europe; they also are confronted with the prospect of a new situation raising uncertainty and perhaps later confusion at the moment when their programs in Western Germany and Western Europe are nearing fruition.
The way is now prepared for the USSR to enjoy the benefits of a restoration of trade between Eastern and Western Germany which in itself serves in part to break down the division of Germany.
A revival of inter-zonal trade in Germany could be an entering wedge in breaking down US economic policy toward the USSR and Eastern Europe. It is questionable whether Western European states would continue to cooperate fully with US export policy if Western Germany through trade with Eastern Germany were able to increase commercial ties with Eastern Europe.
Since Soviet policy has suffered only a tactical defeat by the lifting of the blockade, there is no reason to expect the USSR in the CFM to alter its basic policy in Germany. Moscow’s actions in the CFM accordingly will be measured against the goal of blocking the integration of Western Germany into Western Europe.
In the CFM regardless of whether any agreement is reached, the USSR will be in a position to achieve propaganda benefits without the necessity of-making any departures from its previously stated position.
The imminence of a final division of Germany and the consequent prospect of the integration of Western Germany into Western Europe can be expected to lead the USSR to go beyond mere propaganda gestures, however, and instead to make concrete offers.
The limited Soviet editorial comment on the CFM since the announcement of the four-power communiqué4 has refrained thus far from indicating what line the USSR will take on specific issues.
However, the central position that the Warsaw Declaration has occupied since June 1948 in Soviet and Satellite statements concerning Germany indicates that the USSR will use the proposals of this declaration at least as a point of departure. Because of the comprehensive nature of the Warsaw proposals, the USSR can make a series of ostensibly conciliatory offers within their framework.
The USSR will make concrete proposals concerning those longstanding issues, such as reparations and-control of the Ruhr, in the case of which any four-power agreement at this time would mean a net benefit for the Soviet Union. For example, the USSR might offer to reduce and/or to postpone its previous demand for $10 billion [Page 912] reparations, picturing this as a concession, but actually seeking to liquidate a frozen claim on the best discount terms possible.
It is possible that Moscow, recognizing the realities of the Western position, discounts the effectiveness of maneuvers of this obvious type and plans to supplement them with new proposals, which however would still not involve a shift in basic policy.
The USSR may well propose that the question of political unity “be submitted to popular referendum by all Germans and that they be given a voice in formulating a program of unification, subject, however, to unanimous four-power approval.

Instead of insisting that the Western powers halt the evolution of the Western German government, the USSR may propose an arrangement whereby this state could be established in accordance with the Bonn constitution and, similarly, an Eastern German state would be established in accordance with the constitution prepared in the Soviet Zone. These two states would then conclude inter-state agreements and might form an all-German federal council acting as a provisional central German government.

Central Control by the Big Four would be assured temporarily by a reconstituted ACC which by unanimous decision would exercise certain reserved powers, such as supervision over the relations of the two states with third states, over the federal council and through it over the governments of the two states.


Some economic unification would be necessarily automatic in the development of a dual political system outlined above, but might well be urged by the USSR independently of such a system. Thus the USSR may propose that, with or without some form of central government, a central German economic administration be established, that inter-zonal barriers to trade be abolished, and that there be a unified currency for all of Germany. It is likely that the USSR will refrain from tying the issue of economic unification to the question of reparations. Unlike Molotov at the London CFM in 1947, Vyshinsky will probably not insist that the establishment of a procedure for reparations deliveries by Germany be a precondition to the abolition of inter-zonal barriers to trade.

Regardless of whether the USSR at this meeting of the CFM makes proposals for the formal economic unification of Germany, there are numerous indications that one of its major aims is the resumption of trade within Germany and the promotion of increased East-West trade. A breakdown of economic barriers within Germany would in itself not only impede the integration of Western Germany into the Western European system but would also generally interfere with US economic aims regarding Europe. It is possible that the USSR may seek to obtain a relaxation of US export controls on trade with Eastern Europe in return for superficial “concessions” on Germany.

With respect to any and all of the foregoing possibilities and irrespective of the conciliatory manner in which they may be proposed, not one of them would constitute a real concession on the part of the USSR—that is, a concession that modifies exclusive Soviet control over Eastern Germany. All these proposals would be fundamentally at the expense of the Western powers. In view of the existing situation the only real concession that the USSR can make is to permit establishment of governmental power in Eastern Germany on the basis of a free election in all of Germany under Big Four supervision, without at the same time insisting upon their right of veto over German affairs.
A concession of this type would involve for the USSR, regardless of accompanying paper guarantees, the gamble of the integration into the Western system not only of Western Germany but ultimately all Germany. There have been certain guarded propaganda references which have implied that as a last resort the USSR may take the risk. This concession would involve the relinquishment of Communist control in Eastern Germany and would enable the Western powers to gain through Western-oriented German parties an opening for the exercise of determining influence in Eastern Germany. Without a veto, the USSR would not make comparable gains in the West.
The circumstance which might conceivably lead the USSR to make such a concession would be the realization that the CFM is in the process of collapsing and with it the last chance to recreate a fluid situation and to prevent the definitive incorporation of Western Germany into the Western European system.

  1. Attached to the source text was a memorandum by Bradley Patterson which stated that this paper was prepared in consultation with the Division of Eastern European Affairs.
  2. Documentation relating to the quadripartite negotiations in Moscow during July and August, 1948, is in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, chapter iv, part c .
  3. The text of Stalin’s statement to INS correspondent Kingsbury Smith is printed in the New York Times, January 31, p. 4; for further information relating to it, see editorial note, p. 666.
  4. For the text of the Four-Power communiqué, May 5. 1949, announcing the mutual lifting of restrictions on trade and communications to Berlin, see editorial note, p. 750.