Paper Prepared in the Office of Eastern European Affairs, Department of State 1


Policy Toward Soviet Satellites in Eastern Europe

principal us objectives

The principal purpose of US policy toward the satellite states of Eastern Europe is to weaken the Soviet grip upon them, with the ultimate [Page 15] aim of eliminating preponderant Soviet power there and enabling these nations to exist as free members of the European community. For the immediate future, as the Sovietization of the satellites continues apace, we wish to preserve what we can of Western influence and to maintain our concern for the rights and welfare of these peoples.


At the present time, the trend in the satellite states which started in 1944 is moving rapidly toward Moscow’s goal of undiluted communist regimes under absolute Soviet control. The campaign to eliminate all vestiges of Western influence is reaching a climax in “spy trials”, arrests and mistreatment of the citizens of Western nations, measures against Western diplomatic missions which in the case of Bulgaria have already led to a break in relations with the US,2 and the restriction or banning of the informational activities of Western nations. Meanwhile, the satellites have shown a growing lack of interest in trade with the west and are cutting other ties with the free world by withdrawing from participation in a number of international organizations such as the World Bank and Fund, FAO, UNESCO and WHO. At the same time, their propaganda attacks on the West have become increasingly violent. This situation raises the possibility that the US and other Western nations might eventually be forced to withdraw their diplomatic missions and see the entire area sealed off as a Soviet preserve with its human and material resources utilized exclusively to build up Soviet power. It is plain that, if the Soviets have complete control of these countries and the West is not able even to cause them any worry or inconvenience there, they will be better able to devote their energies to disruptive efforts in Germany and Western Europe. It is in accordance with Western interests, as well as with the basic principles of American policy in relation to the self-determination of peoples, that the trend toward the domination and absorption of the nations of Eastern Europe by the USSR should be slowed and, if possible, reversed.


Because of the position of virtual impotence to which the West has been reduced in Eastern Europe, it is difficult to find positive means of attaining or even pursuing Western objectives. However, certain means appear to be available and are listed below. It would be desirable to obtain British and French concurrence in principle to utilizing these means to the maximum extent practicable.

Despite provocation and pressures, the Western powers should continue to maintain diplomatic representation in the satellite countries [Page 16] so long as they are not forced to withdraw by creation of situations which can no longer be tolerated. The maintenance of at least some representation is deemed necessary in order (a) to obtain such useful and possibly vital information as may be found on the spot, (b) to indicate that we do not intend to abandon our interests in these countries or to abandon these peoples to Soviet domination, (c) to be present and thus able more easily to take advantage of any unexpected situations which may arise, as happened in the case of Yugoslavia in 1948.
The three Western powers may feel compelled to take certain measures against the satellite governments in retaliation for actions of the latter against their diplomatic missions or in violation of the rights of their citizens. In order that such retaliatory measures may be as effective as possible, the three powers should make a practice of consulting each other in advance and, in cases where it seems advantageous, coordinating their actions.
The Western powers should maintain a strong propaganda offensive against the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, especially through radio broadcasts, in order to maintain the morale of the people and to cause difficulties to Soviet efforts to establish full control. Every effort should be made to expose the fact that Soviet domination of the satellites is maintained by force or the threat of force and by the imposition of Soviet-Communist agents in position of power. The US, UK and France should use the means available to them, in the fields of diplomacy and propaganda, to work toward securing the withdrawal of Soviet armed forces and to undermine the police system whereby the Soviets maintain preponderant power. They should cooperate in making available to each other information, suggestions, and facilities for such a propaganda offensive, and in general should coordinate their efforts in this field.
The Western powers should make full use of the UN forum to keep before the world the issue that these countries are being deprived of independence and that their peoples are being deprived of their fundamental human rights. The case against Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania on violation of the human rights clauses of the Peace Treaties should be pursued with the purpose of getting an international decision to the effect that these Governments are guilty of treaty violation and of exploiting fully the propoganda value of this basic issue of individual freedom. Consideration should be given to the desirability of bringing before the General Assembly the question of the treatment of diplomatic representatives in Eastern Europe and of unlawful and improper treatment by the Soviet and satellite governments of the citizens of other states.3
The Western powers should not lose sight of the fact that the nations of Eastern Europe have been and should be a part of the European [Page 17] community. This point might be emphasized in connection with the activities and deliberations of the Council of Europe and any other moves which are being made in the direction of a united Europe. In this connection, judicious use should be made of exiles from the satellite countries although there should be no recognition of them as having any official status. The US, UK and France should coordinate their attitudes and policies toward the various exiled groups with a view to making the fullest use of them in the interest of Western policy, which we also conceive to be the interests of those nations themselves.4
The Western powers should make full use of the advantages presented to them by Tito’s quarrel with the Kremlin in encouraging all signs of Titoism in the Soviet satellites, without however losing sight of the fact that the majority of the people in those countries oppose all varieties of communism.…
Export controls toward the Soviet satellites should be continuously adjusted in accordance with the security interests of the West. In the adjustment process the paramount importance of security should be emphasized but at the same time recognition should be given to the desirability of a certain volume of East-West trade in non-security items to the extent necessary to support the Western European economies without creating an undue dependence on the East. (This question should not be raised by the US but we should be prepared to discuss it if raised by the other powers—see paper on East-West trade.5
  1. This paper was circulated within the Department of State as document FM D B–22a, April 11, 1950. It was one of many position papers on various world political and economic topics prepared for use in connection with the Tripartite (American-British-French) Foreign Ministers meetings in London, May 11–13, 1950, and the preceding meetings of American, British, and French Representatives in London in late April and early May. This paper served as the basis for statements made by American representatives to an American-British meeting on April 25 and an American-British-French meeting on April 28; see the editorial note, p. 30.
  2. For documentation on the severance of diplomatic relations between the United States and Bulgaria in February 1950, see pp. 503 ff.
  3. Telegram Tosec 56, May 2, to London, not printed, instructed the American representatives at the London Foreign Ministers preparatory talks (see the editorial note, p. 30) to sound out British, French, and other Western officials on the possibility of raising at the next U.N. General Assembly the problem of the treatment of Western diplomatic missions in Eastern Europe. The Department of State felt that while a General Assembly discussion would not by itself bring about any change in the situation of Western Missions, it might have some effect on the policies of Communist governments or at least on the rate at which these policies were put into practice (396.1–LO/5–250). No message directly responding to these instructions has been identified.
  4. For documentation on the attitude of the United States toward Eastern European exile groups and leaders, see pp. 337 ff.
  5. For documentation on United States trade policy toward Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, see pp. 65 ff.