The Director of the Berlin Element,
HICOG (Lyon) to the Department of State
- Berlin/EAD Despatch No. 883 of May 14, 1952.1
- Pattern of Recent Soviet Action Relative to East Zone and West Berlin
Three weeks after signature of the contractual agreements—a date heralded in advance as a possible detonator to intensified pressure on East Germany and Berlin—it may be appropriate to review the visible pattern of Soviet policy toward these areas. This review will carry forward the “Summary of Recent Evidence” contained in the Despatch referenced above.
A tabulation is appended below which lists chronologically some of the more significant actions and official statements emanating from the GDR since April 1. Neither prognostications nor unverified reports are included, but only specific events which seem to point toward a coordinated plan. The events in turn derive a portion of their significance from the background against which they take place—ceaseless repetition of the current Commie line: up with peace and German unity, down with contractuals and western integration.
Conclusions suggested by the tabulation are as follows:
- Without exception the events listed either act toward, or prepare the ground for, progressive isolation of the Soviet Zone from the Western Zones and West Berlin.
- Certain of the measures taken, while fulfilling the above criterion, also appear designed to have an adverse effect on the morale and economic viability of West Berlin.
- Certain other measures indicate an intent to build up GDR armed forces.
- Actions of the type enumerated became more frequent as signature of the contractuals approached; were considerably intensified just after signature; and have tapered off to some extent since.
- The cumulative effect of such action to date has been to reduce contacts considerably between East and West Germany, between the East Zone and West Berlin, but not as yet between East and West Sectors of Berlin. It has also created some apprehension regarding the ultimate fate of West Berlin, perhaps had some adverse effect on its economy, largely from psychological causes, but so far not interfered with the city’s normal life to any great extent.
On the whole it appears that the pattern of Soviet action over the past two months has followed very closely that reported in Berlin/EAD Despatch No. 833 of April 21, 1952,2 and it is believed that underlying Soviet motivation has been approximately as suggested therein. When considering only the period after signing of the contractuals, reactions have been largely as anticipated in the last paragraph of Berlin tel 1160 to Bonn, 1390 to Department of May 23, 1952.3 The four reactions considered less likely within a short period have not yet eventuated. Three of the four considered more likely have come to pass, while one of these has not yet taken place.
In looking ahead, it is believed that recent developments have not been such as to change the basic Soviet outlook on Germany; and consequently that the pattern of Soviet action will not change greatly over the next few weeks. That is to say, it still seems probable that the Soviets will continue their campaign to stop the process of Western integration, first through propaganda and efforts to stimulate mass action, and secondarily through attempts to reach a satisfactory (to them) agreement on the international level. And consequently it seems logical that they should continue with a program of isolating the East Zone, of militarization and of harassing West Berlin, but should do so gradually and with an attempt to avoid antagonizing German public opinion to the extent possible. It is true that veiled threats to Berlin still crop up periodically from the East, and there is some evidence of plans to widen the split between its two sectors. At the same time, the calling of a session of the World Peace Council in Berlin for early July, the adverse publicity given to Soviet restrictions affecting the city, and the possibility that four-power talks may eventuate (now apparent from press reports) would all tend to support the view that serious intensification of harassment to Berlin is not very likely in the near future.
Eastern Affairs Division
- Document 695.↩
- Despatch 833 contained an estimate of probable Soviet intentions with respect to Berlin, and concluded that the Soviets would wish to perpetuate the status quo “until such time as the Soviets feel they have little more to gain by playing up the unity and German nationalism lines”, when “sharply intensified efforts to insulate the Soviet Zone from West Berlin” would occur. (662A.62B/4–2152)↩
- Document 697.↩
Drafted by Barnes and coordinated with Creel.
A note on the source text indicates that the dates below “are only approximate, in some cases refer to time when information became available.”↩