601.6162B/6–552: Despatch

No. 699
The Director of the Berlin Element, HICOG (Lyon) to the Department of State1

confidential
No. 920

Subject:

  • Recall of Soviet Ambassador to the GDR

According to an ADN despatch published in the East Zone press of June 1, 1952, G. M. Pushkin, Soviet Ambassador to the GDR, has been recalled and named Deputy Soviet Foreign Minister. Ivan Iljetschev, according to the same report, has been named as Pushkin’s successor to the post of Ambassador to the GDR.

As between Pushkin and Semeonov, Political Advisor to General Chuikov with the personal rank of Ambassador, the former has been regarded by some local observers as an exponent of the hard, uncompromising line with regard to Germany, whereas Semeonov has been the advocate of a more compromising policy. The inferences have been that Pushkin favored building up the East Zone into a full-fledged satellite as a basis from which the whole of Germany might some day be won, whereas Semeonov is supposed to have favored the softer approach and to have been willing to sacrifice the SED initially, in order to get a unified Germany which could eventually be captured from within. It has been a moot question as to whether Pushkin or Semeonov exercised the most influence with regard to GDR policy. If there is any truth in the above-described policy views of the two, it would appear that up until April, 1952, Semeonov was the more influential, but that with the inauguration of the more militant, revolutionary line stressing direct action rather than lures, Pushkin’s views may have been given the nod over those of Semeonov.

It is difficult on the basis of the scanty information available to this office to hazard with any degree of reliability a guess as to what, if any, particular significance there may be to the recall of Pushkin and his assignment to what on the surface appears to be a responsible position within the Soviet Foreign Office. One can only note, in addition to the alleged but unconfirmed policy views of Pushkin noted above, that his change in position has taken place at a time when: (1) the Soviet Union has recalled its Ambassadors in Washington and London; (2) when changes in the top government structures and polit bureaus in Rumania and Czechoslovakia [Page 1552]are being carried out; (3) when GDR Minister President Grotewohl has suddenly dropped into the background without explanation; and (4), when the Communist parties of France, Japan and Germany have apparently received orders from the Kremlin to risk their hard cores and prestige in an attempt to bring about a change in government in those countries through revolutionary tactics.

Whether or not Pushkin has been charged with the task of directing from the Kremlin a new German policy is a question which cannot be answered here. In any case all signs point to the fact that the Soviets are intent on integrating the GDR more tightly into the Satellite system; that they may have abandoned their policy of trying to woo the Germans into acceptance of their unity proposals; and that for a time at least they are going to try to achieve their objectives in Germany by shaking the stick and playing upon the fears of the Germans that the U.S. policy of integration will lead to a permanent split of Germany and to war.

In connection with Pushkin’s replacement, this office would appreciate receiving any information which Embassy Moscow or the Department may have concerning Ivan Iljetschev, who has assumed the duties of Soviet Ambassador to the GDR.2

For the Director:
N. Spencer Barnes

Chief
Eastern Affairs Division
  1. Repeated to Bonn, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Moscow, Paris, and London.
  2. A marginal note on the source text indicates that an airgram was drafted and sent in response to the request for information about Iljetschev on June 19, 1952. No copy of such an airgram, however, has been found in Department of State files.