762B.00/6–1153: Telegram

No. 711
The Director of the Berlin Element, HICOG (Lyon) to the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany, at Bonn1

confidential

1757. From EAD. SED Politburo today announced wide-ranging party and government policy shift which ranks in importance at least with decisions second party conference last July.2 Apparently HICOMer Semeonov has lost no time setting in motion changes which Soviets hope, with some justification, will influence outcome [Page 1580]FedRep elections, strengthen popular pressure in West Germany for four-power conference, and lessen East German antagonism toward GDR regime.

At same time, (1) communiqué issued on church reflecting apparent GDR willingness reach agreement favorable church on major outstanding issues and (2) report published on meeting of government, party and agricultural representatives which substantially confirms changes described mytel to Bonn 1750 repeated Department 1624.3 Both reported separate telegrams.4

Politburo recommendations aimed at “decided improvement in living standard all segments population and strengthening of security under law (rechtssicherheit) in GDR”. Mistakes, which have resulted in flight of “numerous persons from the Republic”, to be corrected. Measures will serve reunification objective by “concretely facilitating coming together (annaeherung) both parts Germany”.

Assuming straightforward implementation, Politburo in effect calls off war on private sector in economy in industry, trade and agriculture; announces intention attempt really solve consumer supply problems (even to point of revising five-year plan); makes strong play to get refugees back (their property to be returned); promises easing of regulations on issuance GDR residence permits to West Germans and West Berliners and interzonal passes to GDR residents; grant limited amnesty for certain economic crimes; and regrants substantially all food ration cards recently taken away.

Airpouching full text today.5

Lyon
  1. Repeated to Washington, Moscow, London, Paris, Warsaw, Praha, Bucharest, and Budapest. The source text is the copy in Department of State files.
  2. Regarding the Second SED Conference, July 9–12, 1952, see telegram 88 and despatch 91 from Berlin, Documents 703 and 704.
  3. Telegram 1750, dated June 10, reported that the SED Central Committee, meeting June 6–7, had decreed basic changes in the policy of socializing agriculture. (762B.00/6–1053)
  4. Reference is to telegram 1758 from Berlin to HICOG Bonn, June 11, concerning GDR state agricultural policy, and 1759 from Berlin to HICOG Bonn, June 11, concerning church-state relations. (762B.00/6–1153 and 862B.413/6–1153)
  5. An unofficial translation of the Politburo recommendations was transmitted to Washington in an unnumbered telegram from Berlin, June 15. (762B.00/6–1553) For text of the Politburo recommendations, dated June 9, and the Council of Ministers’ communiqué, dated June 11, which accepted the recommendations, see Ruhm von Oppen, Documents on Germany, pp. 585–588.