Paper Prepared by the Acting Director of the Eastern Element of HICOG ( Holt )1


Notes for Eastern Element’s Briefing of General Mathewson , U.S. Commander, Berlin

It appears that Soviet policy regarding Eastern Germany has been and continues to be

  • (1) the consolidation of Soviet Communist control, which involves the Sovietization of government, economy, and military forces, all public organizations and institutions, as well as the culture and ideology of the people;
  • (2) the integration of Eastern Germany into the Soviet political, economic, and military system of satellite countries, among which in Europe, Eastern Germany is expected to play the most important role;
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  • (3) the utilization of East Germany as an advance base for the extension of Soviet-Communist control over Western Germany, and ultimately over Western Europe.

1. In regard to the first point, the Soviet aim of consolidating Soviet-Communist control, economic, military, and political power in the Soviet Zone has been achieved: Developments in all these fields proceed in perfect accord with Communist direction; there is no important effective organized opposition except perhaps the churches. The Sovietization of the form of government, the economy, and the army is being pressed.

  • a. The SED (Socialist Unity Party, Communist controlled) is the supreme political instrument of Soviet-Communist control in Eastern Germany and is being increasingly groomed in likeness to the CP of the USSR. The October 15 election seems to have marked the virtual death of the non-Communist parties, although it is possible that their nominal existence may be utilized further for propaganda purposes to give a semblance of coalition government.
  • b. The governmental administration resembles increasingly that of the USSR.
  • c. The secret police, for supervising and controlling government, economic administration, other public organizations and private life, now closely parallels that of the USSR.
  • d. The military forces have been newly reorganized into 24 combat cadre units, to which the artillery, tank, communications and other specialities have been attached. It is understood that the cadres will not be expanded until October and that meanwhile the present 50,000 man strength will be maintained. Coast guard and air force units are in formation but have not progressed very far. The military forces are responsible to a Soviet military command, not to the GDR Ministry of Interior, as frequently stated in the press.
  • e. Socialization of trade and industry is continuing and the organizational outlines of collectivization of agriculture are clearly visible. The top organizational control of industry has just been reorganized along the Soviet pattern. The entire production planning is directed toward developing the GDR economy to become independent from Western Germany. Basic industrial production has been enormously expanded in steel and iron, and moderately so in other basic industries. Consumers’ industries have been neglected. The level of living has improved moderately in food and slightly in clothing, except shoes. The Plan itself and the manpower policies required for its execution will contribute to the further proletarization of the GDR social structure by changing the traditional role and place of women workers in society and by largely replacing the strongly independent German skilled worker with the Russian type specialized labor.
  • f. Trade unions have become governmental labor administrative agencies for maintaining and raising output per man hour and for labor indoctrination and to marshal manpower on occasion to demonstrate “popular demand”, “popular anger”, etc.
  • g. The farmers are organized similarly into centrally controlled Farmers’ Mutual Aid Societies for purposes of their economic and political control and economic collectivization.
  • h. The educational system, reorganized during the first years, is now being purged of its non-SED or anti-Communist teaching and administrative staff, and is increasingly instrumental and thorough in the Marxist-Leninist indoctrination of the Soviet Zone youth. Advancement to higher schools and positions is almost completely dependent upon SED or FDJ membership and activity.
  • i. Religious persecution, restriction, and control vary from the long penitentiary sentences meted out to the unpopular and isolated Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the one hand, to the prohibition of circulation of Catholic periodicals, elimination of religious instruction from the school curriculum, prohibition of money collections outside the church buildings, threats of loss of state funds and confiscation of church lands, pressure to move church offices from West Berlin to the Soviet Zone, control over church relief distribution, propaganda to discredit the churches, arrest of a few outspoken and effective religious leaders, especially among the youth, etc. applied to the Catholic and Protestant churches.
  • j. Women’s, youth’s, and cultural German-Soviet Friendship societies, combined into “People’s”, “peace”, “unity”, or “anti-remilitarization” committees, and “congresses” complete the picture of Soviet-Communist social control in Eastern Germany.
  • k. The majority of the adult population is strongly, resentfully anti-Communist. Though generally pro-Western and pro-American, it has been so surrounded with Communist propaganda that its faith in the West and in America has been seriously undermined. Thus far it shows no sign of finding a new faith.
  • l. In contradistinction from West Germans, the East Germans have become aware of the importance of personal liberty.
  • m. It is probable that the population may gradually sense an improvement in the economy and consider that the future holds more than they have hitherto thought.
  • n. The first year of mass ideological indoctrination has elapsed; the new and more intense year has begun; the youth mentality is being cast, is still imperfect.

2. Integration of Eastern Germany into the Soviet-Communist political, economic, and military system has developed through the Communist Party of the USSR (controlling the SED), the Military Division of the Soviet Control Commission (controlling the East German military forces), the integrated system of five-year economic plans (interlaced by trade agreements), and Communist international mass organizations (trade union, youth, women’s, cultural, etc.).

  • a. As previously indicated, the SED has become a thoroughly Communist controlled party, the Soviet instrument of political power in Eastern Germany. Although not yet officially accepted as a member of the Cominform, it has been represented at Cominform meetings. The international Communist Party disciplinary control in the Cominform is no less effective in the SED in Eastern Germany.
  • b. Regarding the integration of the economy of the GDR into the Soviet satellite economic system, it is obvious that, while the GDR’s admission to the CEMA (Soviet orbit Committee for Economic Mutual Aid, or “Molotov Plan”) may not thus far have had practical [Page 1992] results, the Five Year Plan is obviously synchronized with the economic development of Soviet Russia and the satellites. Eighty-five percent of the Soviet Zone’s foreign trade (exclusive of Interzonal trade) is directed towards Soviet Russia and the other satellites. So-called “technical-scientific” agreements have been concluded with some of the Soviet satellite countries which actually mean the sharing of German technical know-how with those countries for a low price. Planning and production systems of the Soviet Union are taken over wholesale and affect the organizational structure of the government, the entire fiscal system and the social structure of the population. It goes so far that against all rational considerations arising from climatic and soil conditions, the calendar year has teen adopted for agricultural planning to correspond to similar planning in Russia.
  • c. The Soviet orbit integration of the 53,000-man East German military forces, organized in the so-called Main Administrations for Training (Army) for the Air Police, and for the Maritime Police, is through the Soviet Military Division of the Soviet Control Commission. The East German Government has no control over the East German military forces. Whether a military mutual defense pact exists, we do not know. However, it would appear unnecessary. Technical research exchange and supply agreements between the GDR and other European satellites have already been mentioned.
  • d. Cultural exchange agreements with other satellite states were concluded last year. The international peace, women’s, youth, and other congresses, include representatives from the GDR. The coming World Youth Games illustrate the central attention being given in the Communist international mass organization programs propaganda to the German issue.

3. In retrospect, the Soviet utilization of East Germany as a forward base from which to extend Soviet-Communist control over West Germany and therewith over Western Europe appears to have taken three major forms and undergone numerous phases.

The strategy has been to organize and promote “the revolution” in Western Germany. All tactics have been only various techniques of preparing and promoting the revolution. In Communist parlance this is called establishing a peace-loving, anti-fascist, democratic Germany.

The subversive activities directed to this end have included the subsidization and direction of the West German Communist Party activities, organizations, and propaganda (using funds gained from legal and illegal interzonal trade as well as from pre-currency reform printing presses); infiltration and manipulation, as well as the establishment of “front organizations”; undermining West German and Western Allied authority and control by all overt and covert propaganda methods and by promoting civil disorder, fomenting and championing grievances of all population groups, instigating or taking over strikes, etc.; exaggerating the semblance of public discontent and provoking restrictive police measures.

Of particular interest in watching the Soviet attempt to capture West Germany has been the Soviet attempt to exploit the four-power [Page 1993] occupation, conference, and Control Council machinery. The present negotiations for a CFM are the extension of this five-year old battle.2

Paralleling this battle on the four-power level have been the Communist-sponsored mass movements which are vast, organized, and highly propagandized attempts to rouse the West Germans against the West German and West Allied authorities, in Communist parlance, to “isolate” the “ruling clique” from the “masses.”

These mass movements, occurring as a series of waves, have had two phases since 1947, the People’s Congress movement, 1947–1950, and the Constituent Council movement, since 1950.

Each mass movement is built around popular issues, such as peace and German re-unification. Communist instigated peace, unity, or anti-remilitarization committees are formed all over Germany at local, state, and zonal levels. These send representatives to the central congress or council in East Berlin, which then purports to speak for “the overwhelming mass” of the German people. It invariably presses for the international Communist Party line and the Soviet policy in Germany. It attempts to discredit and reject the West Allied and West German government policies and programs.

The Communist tacticians appear to have designed the Congress movements

  • (1) to foster “national resistance”, “preparing the revolution”, “isolating” the Western Occupation Powers and later the Federal Government from the people, in short, to undermine and help dislodge the Western, anti-Communist powers;
  • (2) to rally the West German population against specific Western Allied policies, those particularly offensive to Soviet interests, for example the establishment of the Federal Republic;
  • (3) to provide a basis for claiming all-Germany support for Soviet policies and to legitimize claims of Communist-sponsored German organizations to speak for all Germany.

The congresses all failed to arouse the West Germans and became themselves discredited as Communist-staged propaganda devices. They have been utilized, however, to write the GDR Constitution and to form the GDR Government, October 7, 1949, apparently because of competitive propaganda necessity or advantage. The last congress movement, the National Congress movement, January–August 1950, appears to have been abortive. It seemed designed originally to declare itself, when convened, to be an all-Germany government with which a peace-treaty could be signed, but it was not so utilized.

It appears that the failure of the congress movements induced the Communists to substitute the Constituent Council approach. It was designed apparently for essentially the same purposes. But the Constituent Council movement has been of particular significance because

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  • (1) it has constituted a new Communist device for attempting the extension of Communist control or influence to Western Germany,
  • (2) it has been made the campaign vehicle of the most profitable vein for propaganda exploitation thus far discovered by the Communists, namely, the widespread German desire to avoid involvement in re-armament and possible war, to be neutral in the struggle between East and West;
  • (3) it has been launched perhaps more urgently than any congress, to frustrate a specific Western Allied policy and program, Western German participation in the North Atlantic Defense Program, presumably the most objectionable West Allied program from the Soviet viewpoint;
  • (4) it has been introduced, also, at the Four-Power level, in the Soviet bid for a Foreign Ministers’ Conference.

The Constituent Council movement was launched by the communiqué from the meeting at Prague of the satellite foreign ministers, October 21, 1950.3 Resolution number four of the Prague Communiqué proposed the establishment of an all-Germany Constituent Council, with equal representation from East and West Germany, to prepare for the formation of an “all-Germany, sovereign, democratic, and peace-loving provisional government” and to present to the Four Powers proposals therefor; furthermore to prepare recommendations to the Four Powers concerning a peace treaty for Germany.

As a new device for extending Communist influence or control over Western Germany, the Constituent Council appeared to be designed, at the most, to “capture” the Federal Government. The key to this “capture” of the Federal Government appears to have been the precondition in the Prague proposal of parity representation of East and West Germany in the Constituent Council. This condition would make it a simple matter for the solidly Communist-controlled East German representation to veto any West German proposal and, by winning over only one West German representative, to obtain a majority in favor of East German proposals. If this maneuver succeeded, the Communists would presumably claim that the decisions of the Constituent Council committed the Federal Government.

Should the Federal Government permit itself to be drawn into such an arrangement and then decide, instead of agreeing, to break off or withdraw, the East could claim that the Constituent Council still remained a legitimately established body authorized to represent all Germany or else that it had been the Federal Government which had prevented German re-unification and peace. This might have propaganda value if nothing else.

The Constituent Council proposal was made on the German level in a letter from Minister-President Grotewohl, of the GDR, to Chancellor [Page 1995] Adenauer of the Federal Republic, dated November 30. Adenauer rejected the approach on January 15, in an address to the Bundestag, explaining his reasons for refusing to deal with the East German regime. The main reason for rejection was the insistence on the part of the Federal Government that German unification and the establishment of an all-Germany representative body can take place only on the basis of free elections, and that only a German body so constituted has the right to represent all Germany in settling German problems. The rejection was propagandized by the Communist press as proof that the Chancellor was not responsive to the wishes of the majority of West Germans.

The Constituent Council proposal was next made by the People’s Chamber (Volkskammer) of the GDR on January 30,4 and addressed to the Bundestag. It appears at the present time that the Bundestag will also refuse.

The Communist leaders have declared their intention, hinted at in the Prague resolution, to submit the matter to the people in a plebiscite, if the Federal Government rejects the proposal. The plebiscite was announced by the Essen “Anti-remilitarization Congress” of January 28. The form of the plebiscite, namely, signature letters, resolutions of special meetings, and of committees at local and county level, etc, was announced as a Communist Party Congress thesis for adoption at the coming March 2–4 Congress in Munich.5

Whether the Communists will proceed, after the plebiscite, to establish a Constituent Council allegedly representing all Germany, utilizing such West Germans as they may be able to muster, is not clear. Nor is it clear whether the Council would carry out the functions suggested for it in the Prague proposals, prepare the basis for a provisional all-Germany government and make recommendations to the Four Occupation Powers regarding a German peace treaty. Finally, it is most uncertain whether the USSR would proceed to sign a proposed treaty unilaterally with any “provisional German government.” In general it is felt that such moves would not have much propaganda value in rallying the West Germans to the East German regime or in turning the West Germans against their own government and the Western Allies.

It is thought more likely that the USSR would undertake recognition of an East German regime as officially representing or having the right to speak for all Germany and sign a peace treaty or some form of agreement declaring it sovereign, perhaps promising withdrawal of Soviet occupation troops, only when the USSR were ready to accept the consequences of withdrawing from, quadripartite occupation responsibilities [Page 1996] and making the East German government completely responsible for acts committed by the East German government. This would precipitate a show-down over Berlin, for the Western Allies in Berlin would then be forced to recognize or to submit to the East German Government’s authority over transportation and communications controls between Berlin and Western Germany.

It is of some interest that for the first time that can be recalled, a Communist slogan has now been adopted which contains a specific date for the accomplishment of an objective. The West German plebiscite is being conducted on the question “Are you against re-militarization and for the conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany in 1951?” This might indicate that the Soviets will proceed unilaterally with the establishment of a Constituent Council, perhaps a “provisional government”, and sign with it a “peace treaty” in 1951, precipitating the crisis for the Western Occupation Powers in Berlin by the end of this year. However, the foregoing course would mean that the USSR had decided to risk world war by the end of the year.

Thus far the Soviets have not utilized their zone for military action against West Germany. Views differ as to Soviet intentions in this respect. Eastern Element has reported its views from time to time. It was Mr. Morgan’s view in an early December despatch6 that the USSR is much more willing to risk war in the near future than had previously been generally accepted.

In this connection Mr. Morgan, Director of Eastern Element, wrote the State Department on November 30 (Despatch No. 3467) that signs seemed to point to a diminution of Kremlin expectations of winning Germany by “civil war”, a greater willingness of the Kremlin to risk war to attain its objectives, i.e., world conquest within a few years, and to a Kremlin view that while the “peace” movement may prevent world war, the clock stands at about five or ten minutes to twelve.

In a very much debated despatch of December 29,8 Eastern Element, in Mr. Morgan’s absence, took the position that, unless

  • (1) the CFM comes to an unexpectedly fortunate agreement, or
  • (2) the North Atlantic Defense Program fails (perhaps due to Soviet anti-remilitarization campaigns) to develop, including a German contribution,

there is a strong possibility that the USSR would presumably decide it advisable to wage war against the West before the North Atlantic Defense Program reaches maturity, which might, however, be as late as 1952 or even 1953. Eastern Element’s despatch of December 29, 1950, (No. 422) expressing this position, was stated by HICOG Frankfurt not to be the official consensus of HICOG.

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Whatever the best judgment in forecasts on this subject, Mr. Morgan concluded in his despatch of December 13 [November 30] (No. 346),

“If the basic Soviet outlook in Germany has in fact, as suggested above, shifted from civil war to world war, the further development of Soviet strategy there will be more than ever a function of global relationships, and correspondingly less deductible from conditions observed inside Germany. Even if this line of thought were substantiated by more adequate investigation, however, it would probably be a mistake to rule out puppet action entirely. The latter still might be employed for an opening phase of operations (against Berlin for example), and there would presumably still be the off chance, from the Kremlin’s point of view, that the free World might be bled white in Asia and/or be so weakened by internal dissension that something less than World war would bring West Germany, and with it Europe, inside the fold. In any case many lines of Communist policy are useful for either eventuality, hence remain as before: for example “national resistance”, the GDR as “base”, the National Front and the Peace movement, the “democratic” unification of Germany.

“The above line of thought does not imply that the USSR will halt the integration of the GDR into the Orbit or the development of GDR paramilitary forces, nor does it exclude the possibility of other unilateral actions such as implementing some features of the Prague proposals if appeals to West German politicians to “sit at one table” meet with continued rebuffs. What is implied is that such moves, if and when taken, will be adopted primarily for their supposed contribution to the evolution of World War III on terms most favorable to the USSR. For the time being this seems to mean delaying the formation of Western strength in Europe while engaging us where we are at greatest disadvantage, in Asia. Fear of war is thus again becoming a major ally of the Communists in Europe. The tempo and direction of communist action in Germany will naturally vary to a considerable degree with the progress actually made toward creating Western strength-in-being.”

Note: Underscoring in the above-quoted portion of Mr. Morgan’s despatch has been done by the present writer.

John B. Holt
  1. The source text is a copy received by the Intelligence Adviser of the Bureau of European Affairs on March 7 and later referred to the Division of Communications and Records with a request “to put this on record.”
  2. For documentation on the negotiations leading to the Four-Power Exploratory Talks at Paris, March–June, see pp. 1086 ff.
  3. For the text of the satellite Foreign Ministers communiqué, October 21, 1950, see Ruhm von Oppen, Documents on Germany, pp. 522527, or Documents on German Unity, vol. i, pp. 158161.
  4. Regarding the Volkskammer proposals of January 30, see the editorial note, p. 1751.
  5. For documentation on the antiremilitarization plebiscite, see pp. 1747 ff.
  6. The despatch under reference has not been identified further.
  7. Not printed (661.62B/11–3050).
  8. Despatch 422, not printed (661.002/12–2950).