S/S–NSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 174 Series
Report to the National Security
Council by the National Security Council Planning
Statement of Policy Proposed by the National Security Council on United States Policy Toward the Soviet Satellites in Eastern Europe
(Except as otherwise indicated, parenthetical references are to paragraphs in the Staff Study)
1. Soviet control over the Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania and East Germany2) has contributed importantly to the power disequilibrium in Europe and to the threat to the security of the United States. Despite economic dislocation and administrative difficulties, the Kremlin has made considerable progress in exploiting the industrial capacity of the satellites and expanding their military capabilities for use as a coordinated whole with those of the Soviet Union. (2–4, 37)
2. Barriers to the consolidation of the Soviet Union are:
- The anti-communist attitude of the great majority of the population in each satellite. This anti-communism is intensified particularly by loss of personal freedom and a reduced standard of living, as well as by outraged religious and national feelings, but its undiminished survival over the long run is jeopardized by communist [Page 112]control over every aspect of the lives of the people, particularly the young.
- The continued refusal of the West to accept the permanence of the imposed satellite regimes as compatible with the freedom and self-determination of nations. (5–6)
3. Despite the widespread popular opposition to communism in each of the satellites, known underground groups capable of armed resistance have survived only as scattered remnants in a few areas, and are now generally inactive. The recent uprisings in East Germany and the unrest in other European satellites evidence: (a) the failure of the Soviets fully to subjugate these peoples or to destroy their desire for freedom; (b) the dependence of these satellite governments on nearby Soviet armed forces; and (c) the relative unreliability of satellite armed forces (especially if popular resistance in the satellites should increase). These events necessarily have placed internal and psychological strains upon the Soviet leadership. Nevertheless, the ability of the USSR to exercise effective control over, and to exploit the resources of, the European satellites has not been appreciably reduced, and is not likely to be, so long as the USSR maintains adequate military forces in the area. (3)
4. The death of Stalin created for Soviet dominion over the satellites new problems which may lend themselves to exploitation. Although there is as yet no evidence that Soviet capability to dominate the satellites has been impaired since the death of Stalin, the possibility nevertheless exists that a greater concentration of effort may be required to maintain control and that the new Soviet leaders may have to moderate the pace and scope of their programs in the satellites. Such moderation is indicated by the new economic measures, recently announced by the satellite regimes. (7)
5. Although nationalist opposition to Soviet domination is a disruptive force within the Soviet orbit, and even within the communist movement itself, it does not appear likely that a non-Soviet regime on the Tito model will emerge in many of the satellites under existing circumstances. The combination of basic factors which made possible the successful Yugoslav defection from Moscow is lacking in many of the satellites. In addition the Kremlin has taken drastic measures since the Yugoslav defection to guard against further defections. (6, 8–17)
6. Tito’s establishment of an independent communist regime, nevertheless, has brought valuable assets to the free world in the struggle against aggressive Soviet power. It provides a standing example of successful defiance of the Kremlin and is proof that there is a practical alternative for nationalist communist leaders to submission to Soviet control. There are further advantages flowing from Yugoslavia’s political and military cooperation with the West, [Page 113]its association with Greece and Turkey in a Balkan entente, and its role as a vigorous propaganda weapon against Soviet communism. (18–21)
7. East Germany poses special and more difficult problems of control for the USSR than do the other satellites. The fact that the main body of the German nation in the Federal Republic has made continued advances in freedom and economic well-being, and the fact that West Berlin provides a means of contact with the free world, serve to keep alive the hope for an eventual escape from Soviet domination. By utilizing these special advantages the West can probably continue to exploit strong popular anti-communism, maintain East Germany as a focal point and example of disaffection for the rest of the Soviet satellites, make difficult full utilization of East Germany’s economic resources, and keep alive Soviet doubts as to the reliability of the East German population in time of war. At the same time, U.S. policy toward East Germany must take into account the latter’s relationship to the problem of German unification, the integration of the Federal Republic with Western Europe, and the importance of, and dangers inherent in, preserving our access to and position in Berlin. (24, 41, Annex B)
8. The detachment of any major European satellite from the Soviet bloc does not now appear feasible except by Soviet acquiescence or by war. Such a detachment would not decisively affect the Soviet military capability either in delivery of weapons of mass destruction or in conventional forces, but would be a considerable blow to Soviet prestige and would impair in some degree Soviet conventional military capabilities in Europe. (NSC 162/1, para. 5–b)
9. It is in the national security interests of the United States to pursue a policy of determined resistance to dominant Soviet influence over the satellites in Eastern Europe and to seek the eventual elimination of that influence. Accordingly, feasible political, economic, propaganda and covert measures are required to create and exploit troublesome problems for the USSR, complicate control in the satellites, and retard the growth of the military and economic potential of the Soviet bloc. Decisions on such measures to impose pressures on the Soviet bloc should take into account the desirability of creating conditions which will induce the Soviet leadership to be more receptive to acceptable negotiated settlements. Accordingly, this policy should be carried out by flexible courses of action in the light of current estimates of the Soviet Government’s reactions and of the situation in the satellite states concerned, after calculation of the advantages and disadvantages to the general position of [Page 114]the United States in relation to the USSR and to the free world. (37–42)
10. Long-range: The eventual fulfillment of the rights of the peoples in the Soviet satellites to enjoy governments of their own choosing, free of Soviet domination and participating as peaceful members in the free world community. (2, 37)
- To disrupt the Soviet-satellite relationship, minimize satellite contributions to Soviet power, and deter aggressive world policies on the part of the USSR by diverting Soviet attention and energies to problems and difficulties within the Soviet bloc. (35, 39)
- To undermine the satellite regimes and promote conditions favorable to the eventual liberation of the satellite peoples. (35, 36, 38, 39)
- To conserve and strengthen the assets within the satellites, and among their nationals outside, which may contribute to U.S. interests in peace or war, and to the ultimate freedom of the satellites. (29–32, 39)
- To lay the groundwork, as feasible with reasonable risk, for resistance to the Soviets in the event of war. (29–30, 35)
courses of action
12. Use appropriate means short of military force to oppose, and to contribute to the eventual elimination of, Soviet domination over the satellites; including, when appropriate, concert with NATO or other friendly powers, resort to UN procedures, and, if possible, negotiation with the USSR. (23–32, 36)
13. Encourage and assist the satellite peoples in resistance to their Soviet-dominated regimes, maintaining their hopes of eventual freedom from Soviet domination, while avoiding:
- Incitement to premature revolt.
- Commitments on the nature and timing of any U.S. action to bring about liberation.
- Incitement to action when the probable reprisals or other results would yield a net loss in terms of U.S. objectives.3 (26, 29, 30, 40)
. . . . . . .
20. Encourage democratic, anti-communist elements in the satellites; but at the same time be prepared to exploit any …tendencies, and to assist “national communist” movements [Page 115]under favorable conditions, making clear, as appropriate, that opportunities for survival exist outside the Soviet bloc. (8–16, 41)
21. Exploit the developing organizations of Western unity (NATO, OEEC, CSC, etc.) as a force of attraction for the satellites. (22)
. . . . . . .
23. Support or make use of refugees or exile organizations which can contribute to the attainment of U.S. objectives, but do not recognize governments-in-exile. (32)
. . . . . . .
25. Maintain flexibility in U.S. economic policies toward the Soviet bloc, and toward individual satellites, in order to gain maximum advantage with the limited economic weapons at hand (both restrictions and incentives). (27, 28)
26. Continue U.S. diplomatic missions in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Rumania as long as may be in the U.S. interest, and keep under review the possibility of resuming diplomatic relations with Bulgaria.4 (25)
27. Exploit the existence, and encourage the development, of the Yugoslav-Greek-Turkish entente as a means of weakening Soviet power in the Balkan satellites and as an example of free association of independent Balkan nations serving as a potential alternative to Soviet rule. (22)
28. Keep the situation with respect to Albania under continuing surveillance with a view to the possibility of detachment of that country from the Soviet bloc at such time as its detachment might be judged to serve the over-all U.S. interest. (15, 31, Annex B)
29. Exploit, to the fullest extent compatible with the policies regarding Germany as a whole and Berlin, the special opportunities offered by West Berlin and the facilities of the Federal Republic to undermine Soviet power in East Germany. Place the Soviets in East Germany on the defensive by such measures as may be taken to keep alive the hope of German reunification. (24, 41)
30. Emphasize (a) the right of the peoples of Eastern Europe to independent governments of their own choosing and (b) the violation of international agreements by the Soviet and satellite Governments, whereby they have been deprived of that right, particularly [Page 116]the Yalta Declaration on Liberated Europe and the Treaties of Peace with Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania. (2, 37)
NSC 174, in addition to the Statement of Policy and the Staff Study printed here, consisted of a cover sheet, a memorandum of Dec. 11 by Lay to the NSC, a table of contents, a map of Eastern Europe, Annex A, entitled “Estimated Satellite Ground Forces, April 1953,” and Annex B, entitled “Brief Survey of the Situation in the European Satellites.” The memorandum by Lay noted that the draft Statement of Policy was prepared by the NSC Planning Board “in the light of NSC 162/2” (for text, see vol. II, Part 1, p. 577) for consideration by the NSC on Dec. 21. It also noted that the Statement of Policy, if adopted, was intended to supersede NSC 58/2, “United States Policy Toward the Soviet Satellite States in Eastern Europe,” Dec. 8, 1949 (
Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. V, p. 42), and NSC 158, “Interim United States Objectives and Actions To Exploit the Unrest in the Satellite States,” June 29, 1953 (S/S–NSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 158 Series). The OCB was designated as the implementing agency for NSC 174, once approved by the President. Annex B was divided into short essays describing political, economic, and social conditions in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania, and the German Democratic Republic. An extract from the memorandum of discussion at the NSC meeting of Dec. 23, at which time NSC 174 was discussed and approved by the President, with one minor amendment, is printed infra.
The origins of NSC 174 date back to the third progress report on NSC 58/2, May 22, 1951(↩
Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. IV, Part 2, p. 1257), which questioned whether the continued encouragement of Titoism in Eastern Europe was feasible and noted that the Department of State was reviewing the policy. The review process remained dormant until Bohlen requested Barbour in a memorandum of May 15, 1952, to undertake a revision. (PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Eastern Europe”) With little progress having been made throughout 1952, however, the revision, which appears to have been one of the first projects of the Eisenhower administration, began in earnest with an instruction by Matthews, Jan. 30, 1953 (not found), to EE to draft a new “satellite paper.” Drafts dated Feb. 4, May 18, July 28, Aug. 7, Aug. 17, and Nov. 25 have been identified, but only the May 18 draft, the first to be submitted to the NSC Planning Board, has been located in Department of State files. (S/S–NSC files, lot 61 D 167, NSC 174 Series)
- This paper is not concerned
with Berlin which is treated in NSC 132/1 on maintaining the U.S. position in West
Berlin. It is recognized that Albania and East Germany possess
specific features differentiating each of them in important ways
from the other satellites. The inclusion of these two has,
however, made possible the treatment of the satellite area as a
whole. The situation of each satellite is sketched in Annex B of
the staff study. East Germany is also considered in NSC 160/1. [Footnote in the source
text. For text of NSC 160/1
“United States Position With Respect to Germany,” Aug. 17, 1953,
vol. VII, Part 1, p.
510. For text of NSC
132/1, June 12, 1952, see
ibid., Part 2, p. 1261.↩
- For example, account should be taken of the undesirability of provoking the liquidation of important resistance movements or of creating false hopes of U.S. intervention. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- In accordance with the
NSC decision of Dec. 23 (see
the memorandum of discussion,
infra), the words “and Albania” were added at the end of this paragraph in the final version.↩
- This paper is not concerned with Berlin which is treated in NSC 132/1 on maintaining the U.S. position in West Berlin. It is recognized that Albania and East Germany possess specific features by which they are differentiated in important ways from the other satellites. The inclusion of these two has, however, made possible the treatment of the satellite area as a whole and even the other satellites have in a lesser degree certain special aspects. The situation of each satellite is sketched in Annex B. [Footnote in the source text; Annex B is not printed, but see footnote 1, above.]↩