396.1/1–1451: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Barbour) to the Secretary of State 1


1356. Deptel to London 3185, December 28, repeated Paris as 3469, Frankfort as 4587, and Moscow as 439.2 Following is our estimate position on Germany which Soviets may adopt at possible four-power meeting:

[Page 1062]

1. We assume that Soviet motives in seeking CFM are compounded of two main elements. Main purpose almost certainly is slowing down or even suspension of NATO rearmament, and removal present prospect of creation of military force capable of withstanding armed onslaught from Soviet orbit. To achieve this objective we believe Soviets may be prepared to go further in the way of making “concessions” to west than Would be apparent from study of Praha declaration. At same time, we consider Kremlin has in mind fullest use of another CFM for propaganda purposes, and in that sense will attempt to pose its case in manner sufficiently attractive to make refusal by west unpalatable and possibly unpopular.

2. Both with respect to its general propaganda, and in connection with attempt to bring about some form of modus vivendi along lines favorable to it, Soviets probably are counting on:

Real or imagined divergencies of opinion among NATO powers over Far East policy and German rearmament;
Belief, shared by many Europeans, that any CFM held in near future would reflect relatively unfavorable bargaining position of west (expressed in terms realities of power);
West European fears, Bolstered by recent speeches Hoover, Taft and Kennedy, that US is not prepared to underwrite rearmament European partners over indefinite period;
Conclusion that substantial body of opinion in West Europe will not contemplate with equanimity an indefinite deferment of long anticipated economic and material gains;
Fears of many West Europeans, based on awareness of currently indefensible military situation of west, that Soviets may react militarily to implementation plans to rearm West Germany;
Reluctance of West Germans themselves to participate in military effort;
Reluctance of French to have such West German participation; and
Present instability of French Government and resultant limitations placed upon French ability to take forceful action on international questions.

3. Comparison inevitably is invited between general world situation obtaining now and that which preceded last CFM held at Paris from May 23 to June 20, 1949.3 In spring of 1949 steady and spectacular gains were being made by Chinese Communists, and when CFM met it was obvious that Communist control would be extended over whole of China. While this represented gain for Soviet cause, there were several debit items. Perhaps most important of these included (a) signing of NA Pact of April 4, 1949;4 (b) failure of Soviet [Page 1063]blockade of Berlin, which was raised May 12, 1949;5 (c) Tito defection and resultant crippling Soviet designs on Greece; and (d) visible anti-Soviet development of German opinion. These European developments deprived USSR of initiative insofar as Germany was concerned. They are paralleled by current developments in Europe, most important of these obviously being steps now underway to implement NATO through creation of viable European army under US command. On other hand, in Far East Soviet star continues to be in ascendancy, notably in Korea, Indochina and in China itself (where hopes of those who had anticipated development Titoist tendencies thus far have received no support).

4. Soviet position at Paris CFM in retrospective seems to have been based on three main premises, briefly summarized below:

Fundamental determination not to be drawn into any agreement on Germany which would involve weakening of their absolute and unilateral control over GDR;
Desire not to see complete collapse of quadripartite association, no matter how tenuous and imperfect that association might prove to be in practice; and
Dogmatic belief in imminence of shattering economic crisis in west, implying that time on side of USSR.

5. Another interesting parallel between 1949 CFM ‘and one which might be held in near future lies in fact that both were preceded by orbital policy declarations with respect to Germany, in second of which GDR itself was associated. Warsaw communiqué of June, 1948,6 set forth position from which, in the event, Soviet negotiators at Paris did not substantially recede. If same pattern is followed, logic would expect Praha communiqué of November [October] 1950 to constitute Soviet “asking price” in new CFM.

6. These parallels, attractive as they may superficially be, may not, however, prove to be a reliable guide to Soviet intentions. In intervening period there has been greatly accelerated development east-west tension. This has been accompanied by concrete steps in direction effective NATO rearmament, steps which may actually alarm Kremlin and in any case run counter to its own designs. To reverse this trend probably is focal point current Soviet policy, since continuation of politico-military status quo in Europe still would permit Soviets to make territorial and other gains in more remote sections of world, particularly in vulnerable Middle East and South Asian areas.

7. In short, possibly in part by miscalculation force of western desire [Page 1064]for some form of agreement to ease present tension, Soviets might be willing at CFM to agree to:

Immediate establishment of German Constituent Assembly drawn from existing Parliaments of GDE and GFR, not on basis simple parity but in accordance with relation populations;
Creation by that assembly of all-German government in which Communists would be represented;
Negotiation with that government of definitive peace treaty, in which provision would be made for return of Ruhr to permanently demilitarized German state;
Early withdrawal from Germany of all foreign troops;
“Ratification” of foregoing steps by plebiscite, possibly supervised by four allied powers or even conceivably by UN.

8. If Soviets do make these proposals, they probably could count on some measure of favorable response both from Germans and from West Europeans generally. While on face of it they would represent concessions, and could be cited as evidence of more moderate Soviet policy, in point of fact they would not run counter to basic Soviet aims. From military standpoint, Soviet army would merely need to be drawn back few hundred miles into protective satellite belt, from which it could emerge at short notice. Allied forces, on other hand, necessarily would not only lose Germany as base and forfeit utilization German manpower but necessarily would be scattered to more distant points. Politically Communists would find themselves One of strongest political parties in United Germany, and able to take full advantage of factional differences between democratic parties. Into such new Germany would be drawn body of well indoctrinated and highly skilled propagandists, secret agents, trained youth groups, and militarists, all formed over past several years in GDR. These instrumentalities of Soviet power might with reason be considered by Kremlin as fully capable of (a) prolonging neutralization Germany for indefinite period and (b) working towards ultimate transformation Germany into another Soviet satellite.

9. To peoples of Europe, if hot to their governments, creation of neutralized Germany might well be received with satisfaction, or so the Kremlin may calculate. Especially to those groups in France and elsewhere theoretically oriented towards non-alignment and genuinely hostile to resurrection German military power, such solution might appear highly desirable, especially if weighed against alternative of drift towards World War III.

10. It seems clear that establishment of neutralized Germany along lines indicated above would not be a satisfactory objective for US arid its European allies (we expect to offer our comments in this regard in a subsequent telegram). While elimination West Germany as a positive factor in the struggle against Soviet imperialism (Germany as such of [Page 1065]course would continue to be a focal point of struggle), it would simultaneously leave USSR as preponderant military power in Europe, and would establish a power vacuum likely in the final analysis to lead to even more serious causes for east-west tension.

  1. Repeated to London, Paris, and Frankfurt.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For documentation on the sixth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, held at Paris, May 23–June 20, 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, pp. 856 ff.
  4. For documentation on the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty at Washington on April 4, 1949, see ibid., vol. iv, pp. 1 ff.
  5. For documentation on the raising of the Berlin blockade, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, pp. 751 ff.
  6. For the text of the Warsaw declaration by the Foreign Ministers of the Soviet Union, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, Romania, and Hungary, dated June 24, 1948, see Ruhm von Oppen, Documents on Germany, pp. 300–307.