234. Paper Prepared by the Operations Coordinating Board1
WORKING GROUP STUDY UNDER PARA. 25 OF NSC 5616/22
SOVIET ZONE OF GERMANY
This study, which has been prepared in accordance with paragraph 25 of NSC 5616/2, is based on the hypothesis that widespread revolt has broken out in the Soviet Zone of Germany involving acts of violence on the part of the population against the Communist regime and that the regime is employing force to repress the insurrection. It discusses the problem of what action the United States should take under these circumstances. While the paper touches on the possibility of simultaneous uprisings in Poland, it discusses possible courses of U.S. action only in the event of a revolt in Eastern Germany and makes no recommendations for overall American policy in the event of general revolt throughout Eastern Europe.
I. Summary Analysis
1. The most significant difference between the revolt in Hungary and a possible revolt in Eastern Germany is that in the German situation Soviet and NATO forces, including U.S. troops, are face to face with each other in Berlin as well as along the Zonal border and vital strategic interests of both major powers would be directly affected in a revolt. This fact simultaneously increases the dangers arising from a revolt and confronts the United States with a greater challenge than in the Hungarian situation, for in Germany we have a direct, recognized interest and an acknowledged legal responsibility for the country.
2. It can be assumed that the East Zone regime, with the help of the massive Soviet forces which are at hand, would put down isolated instances of revolt, should they occur, with dispatch and brutality. If such short-lived isolated revolts should occur, the U.S. could consider [Page 584] the courses of action listed in para. 24, supplemented, if considered appropriate and practicable, by UN action. Should, however, these incidents expand to the scale of a general insurrection, as in Hungary, it can be assumed—given the fact that the population will have risen up in spite of (a) their vivid memory of the repression of the June 17, 1953 insurrection, (b) their knowledge of the presence of large Soviet forces in the Zone, (c) their awareness of the circumstances of the brutal repression in Hungary, and (d) their realization that the West had failed to give military aid to either the June 1953 or the Hungarian insurgents—that the uprising would be marked by considerable reckless determination. Consequently, it is possible that if the revolt became widespread it would continue for some time even in the face of massive Soviet repression. The factor of duration is of considerable importance, for the longer a revolt continued the higher emotional feeling would run in Western Germany and the greater would be the risk of serious incidents involving Soviet and NATO forces in Berlin and along the Zonal border.
3. In spite of the probable tenacity of the insurgents and the possibility that there might be some unauthorized flow of arms to them from the Federal Republic, there seems little doubt that the Soviet forces would in the end be able to repress the revolt in the absence of considerable assistance from the outside, either of a political or military nature.
4. It is clear that, if a revolt in the Soviet Zone were to take place and were to be repressed by the Soviets, the principal loser would be the Soviet Union. This development would be a renewed demonstration that in Eastern Germany, as elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the Soviet system is maintained only by naked force and that this system is repudiated by the population. It would cause serious economic and political problems for the USSR. At the same time, emotional disappointment in Germany over the failure of the revolt would lead to a strong feeling of resentment against the Western Powers if it were felt that they had failed to act energetically during the crisis. In particular there would be considerable bitterness in the Federal Republic directed against the United States, as the leader of the Western coalition. In consequence, not only would German relations with the United States be adversely affected but one of the fundamental aspects of United States policy toward Germany—the binding of Germany into close alliance with the Western community—could be placed in jeopardy. Finally, the hopes of the Zonal population for the future reunification of Germany and the will to resist Soviet imperialism throughout the satellites would be gravely reduced by the repetition of the Hungarian situation, which in this case would have taken place on the doorstep of Western Europe.[Page 585]
II. Estimate of the Situation
5. Though the basic assumption of this study is that a revolt has actually broken out in the Zone, this assumption is a theoretical one and it may be helpful to give a short analysis of the present chances that such a development will actually take place.
6. The great majority of the population of the Zone is dissatisfied with its economic conditions and disaffected from the regime. While there has been a gradual improvement in the standard of living over the past few years, the ordinary necessities of life are scarce and expensive to an extent which allows the statement that there is general poverty in the Zone. The regime is having great difficulty with its program of expanding the industrial base and there is little prospect of rapid economic improvement. The regime has slavishly followed the Soviet line on Hungary, has declared that there will be no basic revisions of the Communist system in the Zone, and has demonstrated its nervousness about the course of events in Poland by attacking Polish Communist writers and journalists who have written in favor of “national Communism” and by arresting a number of East German intellectuals known as supporters of “national Communism.” There have been numerous indications that the students and intellectuals have been getting a clear picture of the events in Hungary and Poland from Western sources, mainly radio, that they have been quite excited over the developments in those two countries and are fully aware of the important role played by student groups there, and that they have objected to the line taken by the Government.
7. Nevertheless, there are a number of factors which would appear to make a widespread East German revolt unlikely at the present time. Chief among these are:
- The experience of the abortive rebellion of June 17, which was put down by the Soviet troops without any attempt at intervention by the Western Powers.
- Soviet actions in Hungary in ruthlessly suppressing the rebellion there, together with the fact that the Western Powers also did not intervene.
- The absence of a group of leading figures in East Germany who could form the nucleus of a movement toward national Communism.
- The presence of massive numbers of Soviet troops in Eastern Germany who are generally believed by the inhabitants of the Zone to be perfectly able and willing to crush any revolt.
- The constant flow of refugees to Western Germany with relatively little hindrance, which drains the Zone of potential opposition leaders and at the same time, owing to the knowledge that a possibility of flight exists, acts as a safety valve to reduce the build-up of pressures which could lead to revolt.
- The frequent warnings against rash or violent action which have emanated from NATO and from all responsible groups in the Federal Republic.
8. This evaluation does not exclude the possibility of isolated outbreaks. In spite of the factors working against widespread resistance to the regime, the situation in the Zone is a potentially explosive one and general rebellion could conceivably be touched off by a local uprising, by further developments in Hungary and Poland indicating a diminution of Soviet control in those countries, by outbreaks of wide-scale rebellion in other satellites, by indications of internal weaknesses within the USSR, or by a change in the present attitude of the Federal Republic to one of actively encouraging and instigating such an uprising.
III. Political and Military Considerations
9. Attitude of the Zonal Population. The population of the Soviet Zone has not been won over to support of Communism. The vast majority of the people in the Zone are anti-Russian and bitterly opposed to the puppet regime now in power. Only a very small percentage of the population could be expected actively to support the regime in the event of an uprising. The principal targets of the Communist efforts to gain acceptance of their ideology—young people, the students, the industrial workers—are as in Hungary the most disaffected groups among the population and would presumably form the nucleus of any revolt.
10. Attitude and Resources of the Communist Regime. Although some elements of the Communist party are influenced by Titoist sentiment, the leaders and policy makers of the Soviet Zone regime are hardbitten Communist veterans who are fully committed to the Soviet cause. There is no evidence that there are organized groups of Titoist Communists in the Zone, and the present leaders there, who are hated and distrusted by the population and under great political and ideological pressure from the Federal Republic and more recently from Poland, know that their only hope for the future is to remain as closely tied to the Soviets as possible. Not only their political position, but their very lives would be at stake in the event of rebellion. The regime could, therefore, be expected to react immediately and in the most drastic manner to indications of widespread rebellion. In view of the unreliability of the East German police forces, the East Zone Government would almost certainly immediately request the Soviets to use their armed forces in Germany without delay in the unlikely event that the Soviets had not already acted independently.
11. It is uncertain whether the combined police and military forces available to the East German regime are adequate in number [Page 587] and armament to quell a general revolt throughout the country. However, the police and military forces could not be trusted to support the regime actively and large numbers would either refuse to act against the rebels or actually join them. It is possible that organized subordinate commands of the Peoples Army and the police would join the rebels and add to their military capacity. The current armament and weapons depots of the Peoples Armies and police forces would be a logical source of weapons for the rebels insofar as this possibility is not eliminated by Soviet military action.
12. The East German civil police comprise approximately 80,000 men, plus about 100,000 or more auxiliaries and armed workers that fall under its jurisdiction. The police generally are unreliable, as indicated by the high rate of desertions to the West (an average of 75 men have deserted to the West each week during the past several years). While the police are adequate for the normal tasks of law enforcement, they could scarcely be relied upon in an emergency.
13. East Germany has about 30,000 frontier troops, including those used to maintain border controls around Berlin. They are not adequate for a complete sealing off of the frontier with West Germany. In an emergency they would probably not be reliable supporters of the Communist regime.
14. The East German army is currently estimated to have a personnel strength of 100,000. The Navy has a personnel strength of 11,000. These forces could not be relied upon by the Soviets for major military operations or for maintaining internal security in East Germany.
15. The East German interior troops number about 15,000. The interior force is probably the most reliable of Ulbricht’s security arms, but because of its relatively small size has limited capabilities.
16. The Soviet Position.
- The Soviet Union would probably take an even graver view of a revolt in East Germany than that in Hungary and in consequence would hesitate even less before committing its forces (numbering about 400,000 men organized in 22 divisions, which could be reinforced if necessary by sizeable forces drawn from the more than 50 line divisions in the Western part of the USSR) to repress the revolt without mercy. For the Soviets, a successful “counter-revolution” in the Zone would mean the sweeping away of their puppet regime and the addition of that area to the increasingly powerful Federal Republic and thus to the NATO area, since it would be clear from the outset that the aim of the insurgents was total liberation from the Soviet grip and that there was little, if any, chance of establishing even a Gomulka-type regime in the Zone. With the loss of the Zone as a military base, the political control of the Soviets over the remaining satellites, especially Poland and Czechoslovakia, would be [Page 588] greatly weakened, while the success of the rebellion would most probably inspire further anti-Communist uprisings in the satellites. Ultimately, the loss of the Zone under these circumstances would probably mean the loss of Eastern Europe to the Soviets and the withdrawal of their forces back to their own frontiers without any compensating withdrawal of Western forces. While it is conceivable that the Soviets may in time themselves conclude that the only method by which they can retain a minimum amount of control over Eastern Europe is to grant further concessions to their satellites, successful revolt in the Zone would mean its abandonment to the Western sphere of influence without any opportunity for the Soviets to insist on conditions which would militarily protect the security of the USSR itself.
- The development of a situation posing the risk of losing their control over the Zone would therefore probably be regarded by the Soviets, under present conditions at least, as a major and direct threat to Soviet security. The Soviets would probably suspect from the outset, regardless of justification, that a revolt in the Zone was at least partially instigated by the United States. If their suspicion should be hardened by evidence, whether imagined or real, that the United States was actively assisting the rebellion or if there were clashes between American and Soviet troops, the Soviet leaders, who might already be close to panic, could take steps which might lead to general war. The opposite possibility also exists in theory. Important as the continued retention of the Zone is to them, Soviet leaders might themselves be so concerned over the possibility of general war that they might accept loss of control over the Zone if pushed hard enough by the West rather than risking war by using their own forces to repel all forms of Western intervention.
17. Position of Other Communist Countries.
- With regard to the Communist countries bordering on Eastern Germany—Poland and Czechoslovakia—it could be assumed that their governments would probably officially oppose a rebellion from the outset, though for different reasons. The present Polish government, though its attitude might be moderated by fear of adverse reaction from the Polish population if it adopted too hostile an attitude to what essentially would be an anti-Russian revolt, would see in the rebellion a threat to its own policy of “gradualism” and to its Western frontiers. The Czech government would probably be opposed to the revolt in the light of their extreme subservience to the USSR and their fear of Germany. However, the time factor is of great importance in many respects in estimating side effects of a rebellion in Eastern Germany. If a rebellion in Eastern Germany continued as long as that in Hungary, there might be anti-Soviet demonstrations, at least in Poland.
- In the opposite direction, it would appear that signs of serious popular opposition to the government in Poland or Czechoslovakia could trigger a rebellion in the Zone. A situation in which the Polish government, supported by the population, was showing even greater independence of the Soviet Union and having new and severe difficulties with the Russians as a result could have similar effects in either triggering a revolt in the Soviet Zone of Germany or encouraging the rebels to continue their opposition if a rebellion had already started. A situation in which Polish troops were actually engaged in fighting with Soviet forces would clearly have a great effect in encouraging the continuation and intensification of rebellion in the Zone, while it could also conceivably make the military prospects of such rebellion somewhat brighter by draining off a certain number of Soviet forces into Western Poland to deal with the situation there.
18. Attitude and Resources of the Government and Population of the Federal Republic.
- It is believed that the present Federal German Government, which has clearly shown its understanding of the risks arising from a revolt, would at the outset of rebellion in the Zone refrain from official action in direct support of the rebels and do its best (1) to prevent involvement of Federal military forces, (2) to channelize popular feeling in the Federal Republic into constructive relief projects, and (3) to discourage demands for armed assistance for the rebels as well as participation of individual residents of Western Germany in the rebellion. It would undoubtedly appeal to the United States, United Nations, and the NATO Council for help and intercession, and would probably make a direct appeal to the Soviet Union in an effort to stop the bloodshed and persuade the Soviets to withdraw from the Zone.
- The Government could use radio transmitters in the Federal Republic, for which there is generally good reception in Eastern Germany, to beam messages to the Zone. The Government would also have at its disposal the remaining units of the Federal Border Police, which now number approximately 7,000 men, and could count on the cooperation of the Border Police and State Police units of the Laender to control the Zonal border. The armed forces of the Federal Republic, now numbering about 70,000, are a further potential resource in times of emergency. Though the present government would probably be most cautious about placing its armed forces in situations where a clash between them and Soviet forces could ensue, about 10,000 of them are former Border Police personnel still stationed on the Zonal Border and these men might be reassigned to the Border Police. If a revolt should occur after the German forces have increased in size and become battleworthy, and were to last for some time, there might be some public pressure to use them in some way [Page 590] to give direct aid to the rebels even though there is little prospect in the near future that the German forces would be strong enough to take on the Soviet forces in East Germany if the uprising were an isolated one to which the Soviets were able to give full attention. Even before this point had been reached, there would be a possibility of rash action on the part of subordinate unit commanders of the armed forces or the Border Police.
- The population of the Federal Republic has profound fellow-feeling with the population of the Zone which, of course, is considered an integral part of Germany. The West German public would react to a rebellion in the Zone and the attempts of Soviet troops to repress it with a mixture of fear and outrage. There would probably be a certain amount of panic in Western Germany arising from the fear that Soviet military action could spread to the Federal Republic. The public would therefore probably support the Government in a course of moderation at the outset, but if the rebellion should last for some time and fear of Soviet attack subsided, public opinion is sure to become more extreme and to press the government to take some more radical action to aid the revolt, while there may be individual or group actions to help the rebels directly. The longer the conflict continued, the greater would be the difficulty of the government in maintaining a moderate line. In the event that the Soviet forces could not master the situation and the revolt continued at white heat for over two or three weeks, there is some risk that even the most responsible government would begin to yield to this popular pressure and start considering more hazardous measures in addition to intensifying its appeal for Western help or military intervention.
- In the event that individuals or private groups decide, regardless of the consequence, to participate in the revolt or directly aid the rebels, they may attempt to break into arms depots of the Federal Border Police, the State Police forces, of German and Allied forces, or small arms factories and sporting goods stores.
19. The Zonal Border.
- One of the most important differences between the East German and the Hungarian situations is the fact that the Soviet Zone has a long common border with a member of the NATO Alliance, the Federal Republic, on whose territory are stationed a large number of NATO forces including numerous U.S. and U.K. forces. In the case of Germany, this border also separates a population of the same nationality. Although efforts would almost surely be made to seal off the border from the East by the use of Soviet forces rather than by less dependable East Zone police or military units, it would probably be impossible to seal it along its whole length at all times and it may be possible to cross it both ways at various points from time to time. On the Federal Republic’s side of the border, agreements have been [Page 591] concluded between the U.S. and the Federal Border Police for U.S. forces to take over in case of incursions by armed police or military forces from the Zone which are too numerous for the Border Police to handle or in case of incursions by Soviet forces. Similar agreements have been made with the U.K.
- To illustrate the problems with which the United States may be faced in the event of revolt, the following list attempts to show some of the types of movements across the border which could occur in case of revolt in the Zone: refugees from the Zone, organized units of the “Peoples Army” and police seeking refuge, and “loyal” Peoples Army units or Soviet forces in pursuit of refugees. There may be firing across the border from both sides. Volunteers from Western Germany may cross over to the Zone, and it is possible that local units of Federal police may penetrate a short distance into the Soviet Zone to assist refugees in escaping. The possibility cannot be excluded of clashes on a localized basis between the Federal German armed forces and Soviet forces, as well as between U.K. or U.S. and Soviet forces along the border.
20. The Situation of Berlin.
- The situation of Berlin in the event of rebellion in the Zone would be most critical. The city is located in the middle of the Soviet Zone. There might be difficulty in maintaining continuous land access to the city if Soviet forces seal off the Zonal border. Difficulties in connection with access to Berlin by air are also a possibility. The city itself can be penetrated with ease from all sides and it would be most difficult to have full control over its limits to control the movement of persons. The West Berlin police force, under the control of the three Western Commandants, has a total of 16,000 men who might have difficulty in coping with border control in the event of large numbers of refugees or of West Berliners going to the assistance of the rebels. However, the U.S., the U.K., and France have garrisons in the city totalling about 15,000 men, and legal responsibility for maintaining order and security in the Western Sectors of the city, and they could probably deal with all but the most chaotic situations. It may be presumed that the Soviets will exert themselves to prevent clashes between Western forces and police or military units loyal to the GDR regime or with Soviet forces. Nevertheless, the possibility of such clashes cannot be excluded in the confusion of revolt. As in the Federal Republic, there may be efforts to seize police or allied weapon stocks, in this case by the rebels as well as their West Berlin supporters.
- On the more positive side, Western Berlin would be of considerable value in the event of rebellion as an observation post and a point from which some influence could be brought to bear on the [Page 592] rebels as well as having some value as a sanctuary. Two radio transmitters equipped to beam programs into the Zone are available.
21. The Soviet Position. In spite of the importance to the USSR of continued retention of the Soviet Zone, as described above, and the consequent probability that it would take immediate military action to repress the revolt, it can also be assumed that the Soviets would, if possible, try to avoid involvement with NATO forces in the light of the risk to themselves of developments which could lead to general war. The major justification for the probable Soviet suppression of the revolt, which would necessarily be brutal, would be that the revolt was not of indigenous origin, but had been instigated and supported by the United States and the GFR for the purpose of achieving the unification of Germany by military means.
22. The United States Position. In the event of widespread revolt in the Soviet Zone of Germany, the basic attitude of the United States would probably be governed by the following considerations:
- That we will seek to minimize the risk of general war with the Soviets.
- That we will nevertheless maintain our position in Berlin and the Federal Republic, if necessary, with such force as may be required; and that if American military units are attacked they will defend themselves.
- That the U.S. objective will be to bring the Soviets into serious negotiations aimed at the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the Zone and reunification of Germany on conditions acceptable to us.
- That the U.S. will take all possible steps, by consultation and discussion, to maintain Western unity of action, particularly with the French and British (who share our responsibility for questions affecting Berlin and Germany as a whole) and with the Federal German Government.
- That we will wish to state publicly our sympathy for the desire of the people of East Germany to liberate themselves from the Soviet yoke.
- That we will wish to avoid needless bloodshed and suffering and to protect individual lives where possible.
- That we will wish to gain maximum psychological advantage from a revolt in East Germany, and to exploit fully the indigenous origin of the revolt, and any attempt at brutal suppression by foreign—i.e., Soviet—forces stationed on German soil.
II. Possible Courses of U.S. Action
23. There follows a discussion of various courses of action open to the United States in the event of a revolt in East Germany. In addition to certain minimum and immediate steps which should be taken in any case, there would seem to be three possible broad alternative courses of action which could be followed, which are not entirely mutually exclusive: (1) to attempt to negotiate, preferably in concert with the British and French, directly with the Soviets to obtain a definitive settlement of the German problem on terms acceptable to us, (2) to pursue the same objective by placing primary reliance on the procedures and machinery of the United Nations, and (3) to exert direct American pressure against the Soviets aimed at compelling the disengagement of their forces from the military operations to suppress the revolt and the eventual total withdrawal of these forces from East Germany. (The UN machinery could, of course, be used where practicable to give support to U.S. action taken under the general heading of (1) or (3) above.) All of these courses of action would have as their ultimate objective the establishment of a reunified German state free to associate itself closely with the Western Community.
A. Minimum and Immediate Actions.
24. The following steps should be taken in any case at the outset of any revolt in East Germany:
- Warn the Soviets at once against actions which might affect the position of the Western Allies in view of the quadripartite responsibility for Germany as a whole, or of the Allied forces in Berlin. (The tripartite security guaranty for Berlin should be cited to the Soviets in this latter connection.)
- Offer U.S. assistance directly through non-political relief organizations to alleviate suffering among the population of the Zone and if there is adequate backing in the UN consider initiating action to stimulate the provision of further assistance through the UN.
- Express our sympathy for the East Zone population and our disapproval of the use of force by the Soviets and their East Zone puppet regime to suppress the will of the people.
25. If U.S. action were to be limited to the above steps it would be likely to be interpreted to signify the voluntary abandonment by the United States of efforts to control the course of developments despite the fact that they involve the risk of general war, and could lead to severe losses of U.S. prestige and authority through the free world.[Page 594]
B. Direct Negotiations with the Soviets.
26. The U.S. could, after consultation with the U.K., France, and the Federal Republic, approach the Soviet Union on the highest level either in concert or, if necessary, unilaterally, declaring our belief that the forces the Soviets were attempting to repress were uncontrollable in the long run and that it was to their own advantage and that of world peace to agree without delay on a reasonable solution of the German problem. We could state that the situation posed such a threat to world peace that the United States regarded it with the utmost gravity. We could then present a general plan for a definitive settlement of the German question, giving sufficient detail to demonstrate the seriousness of our intentions. Our plan should of course make provision not only for German reunification but also for a workable system of European security. This would include the problem of eventual disposition of foreign military forces in Germany. Our approach should be calculated to impress on the Soviets the depth of our concern and our anxiety to negotiate a reasonable solution which would take into account the legitimate interests of all parties concerned.
27. The United States would naturally wish to avoid a situation in which it had offered to negotiate with the Soviets and the Soviets accepted, using the negotiations as a cover for continued brutal repression of the revolt only to break them off when their repressive measures had been successful. In order to prevent this we could inform the Soviets, after presenting the outline Western plan for settlement of the German question, that their forces would have to be withdrawn to their bases within Eastern Germany as a prerequisite to the commencement of further negotiations. We could at the same time assure the Soviets that if this condition were met, we would bring our influence to bear to cause the insurgents to cease measures of violence. If the Soviets refused to disengage their forces we could:
- Commence negotiations, publicly stating we were doing so to show Western sincerity and willingness to come to an agreement. Break off the negotiations and resort to other tactics if the course of the negotiations shows that the Soviets are not serious in their intention to negotiate and are using the negotiations as a cover for continued repression.
- Commence negotiations, setting a public time limit, either for reaching full agreement in principle or for Soviet withdrawal to their bases in Germany.
28. It is possible that categorical Western refusal to open formal negotiations prior to Soviet military disengagement, accompanied by wide publicity for the initial Western approach for settlement and the utilization of various other forms of Western pressure, some of which are described below, could possibly bring about Soviet disengagement. [Page 595] This might also be true for a tactic in which the West actually commenced formal negotiations while simultaneously bringing to bear all available pressure from the outset of the negotiations. However, the equally likely result of these courses would be a Soviet conclusion that the original Western offer to negotiate was not intended seriously but rather as an attempt to profit from the unfavorable position in which the Soviets found themselves.
29. In negotiations with the Soviets which might ensue as a result of a Western approach to them, our objectives should in any case be the following:
- To implement, if possible, the long-term primary objective of bringing about the eventual complete withdrawal of Soviet forces from East Germany and the reunification of Germany in freedom.
- To stop the further shedding of blood and bring about cessation of violence.
- To secure the disengagement of the Soviet forces from the fighting and their return to their barracks areas.
- To ensure against Communist reprisals against those individuals who had participated in the uprising.
30. Our initial approach to the Soviets would probably best be made quietly and without publicity. Should the Soviets show any disposition to enter into serious negotiations it would be wise to continue to avoid publicity with regard to the content of the Western proposal, so long as this content remains confidential and public speculation at the time is not injurious to U.S. interests. If, on the other hand, they were to respond negatively to our confidential approach, we should take steps at that point to publicize fully in the United Nations and elsewhere our willingness to negotiate and the general character of the proposals we have made to the Soviets. Our objective at this time should be to obtain the widest possible support throughout the world for our proposals and for the course of action we are following and to bring maximum pressure of public opinion to bear against the Soviets.
31. As to the character of our specific proposals to be made to the Soviets, it is important that they should be designed to create the clear impression that we are prepared to negotiate with the Soviets on a basis which would leave open to them some course of action other than bloody repression of the East German revolt and which would also take their legitimate security interests into account. In other words, it is essential that we leave no doubt that a real and genuine alternative has been offered to the Soviets.
32. In the interest of reinforcing this impression we could take certain additional actions such as the following:
- Use our own troops, after consultation with the British and French and the Federal Republic, to seal off the Zonal Border to eastbound [Page 596] traffic (except for legitimately authorized traffic to Berlin). This measure would emphasize our desire to prevent any flow into the Zone from the West of arms for the insurgents or of individuals seeking to join in the fighting on their side. On the other hand, such a measure, unless accompanied with more positive actions, could well arouse resentment among Germans on both sides of the Zonal Border for our actions in preventing offered assistance from reaching the insurgents. In any event, it would be politically unthinkable to try to seal the Border to westbound refugee traffic from the Zone into the Federal Republic.
- After ascertaining whether there is adequate backing for such steps, initiate immediate consultations to determine whether it would be feasible to seek action in the General Assembly calling for the stationing of UN observers along the Zonal Border, and possibly also along recognized land access routes to Berlin.
C. UN Action.
33. Probably the most effective utilization which could be made of the United Nations would be to secure its authority and prestige in support of the position adopted by the three Western Powers and the Federal Republic. Though the UN Secretary General might conceivably play a useful role as an intermediary, the UN would offer disadvantages as a device for actually negotiating with the Soviets because of the diminution of U.S. and Western control over the course of the negotiations. Presuming that action in the Security Council would be blocked by the Soviet veto, it should be possible to secure General Assembly passage of a resolution calling on the USSR and the three Western Powers to negotiate on the German question. If a Western initiative to the Soviets for such negotiations had already been undertaken in confidence the resolution could call on the Soviets to withdraw their forces to their bases in the Zone within a short, fixed period—two or three days—in order to permit the commencement of negotiations at the end of that period.
34. In the event the Soviets refused to negotiate or negotiations failed, the U.S. could then take steps to secure adoption of a General Assembly resolution endorsing the Western negotiating position, and thus place added pressure on the Soviets to accept it in the course of time.
35. In the event of Soviet refusal to negotiate, or the breakdown of negotiations if held, or in the alternative event that the U.S. itself decided to apply measures of direct pressure on the Soviets (these are described in d. below) rather than to attempt to negotiate, the UN General Assembly could also be called on for other types of support. Among the possibilities open in this case are the following measures, intended as illustrative suggestions, which could be taken by the UN:[Page 597]
- Station UN observers in Berlin with or without Soviet permission (if there were still access by air to the city) and along the Zonal Border.
- Pass resolutions of censure, adopt sanctions against the USSR and support embargoes or boycotts against it.
- Call on all non-Communist countries which had Soviet Zone consular, trade, or other missions to expel them, thus giving a concrete expression to worldwide repudiation of the GDR regime as “unrecognizable.”
- Establish a special UN Police Force to intervene in East Germany against Soviet repression of the revolt. It would be impossible to get the necessary two-thirds majority for this proposal in the face of Soviet opposition for this would amount to a UN declaration of war if not against the Soviet Union at least against Soviet forces in Germany. The proposal would have value only if the USSR agreed to the stationing of UN forces in the Zone either during negotiations or in order to implement any agreement reached in negotiations. However, it could also be considered as a possible course if there were a general revolt in the satellites including Eastern Germany, particularly if the Soviets were having a hard time repressing the revolt.
36. Be prepared to meet and deal with Soviet efforts to block UN action of any kind on the ground that Article 107 of the UN Charter gives the USSR authority to take whatever action it sees fit with regard to Germany as a former enemy nation. Past experience in the UN with questions involving both Germany and Austria (UN consideration of the Berlin Blockade in 1948; establishment of a UN commission on the question of free elections in both parts of Germany in 1951; and UN consideration in 1952 of the failure of the Four Powers to agree on an Austrian Peace Treaty—in all three cases action was taken in the face of Soviet opposition based on Article 107) indicates that the UN could probably cope with this difficulty.
D. Use of Direct American Pressure on the Soviets.
37. The U.S. could decide, on the basis of the situation at the time, that direct pressure was preferable to negotiation as a method of inducing the Soviets to withdraw from the Zone, or a useful supplement to negotiations. However, the use of the type of direct American pressure described below simultaneously with the commencement of negotiations might, given the strain the Soviet leaders would be under if a revolt occurred, increase Soviet suspicions of the American negotiating approach. This of course does not preclude the use of pressure as a negotiating tactic if the subsequent course of negotiations should justify it, nor does it preclude the use of indirect pressure through the UN at any stage. It is possible that heavy American pressure prior to a diplomatic approach of the type described above would assist in inducing Soviet willingness to negotiate seriously, particularly if the Soviets were having considerable difficulty [Page 598] in maintaining control in the Zone, since they would scarcely evacuate the Zone in any case without asking for face-saving negotiations. The defect of a tactic of applying pressure as a preparatory measure for an offer to negotiate is that it increases the risk that Soviet leaders might be driven to desperate actions.
[9 paragraphs (2-1/2 pages of source text) not declassified]
- Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, Germany. Top Secret. A cover sheet, an undated memorandum which stated that the paper had been revised by the OCB at its meeting on June 5 and that it would be reviewed periodically, and a table of contents are not printed.↩
- For text, see vol. xxv, pp. 463–469.↩