236. Telegram From the Mission in Berlin to the Embassy in Germany1
164. Week long visit Kremlin leadership was a unique event with no precedent in brief GDR history.2 While duration and nature friendship visit unique, nevertheless visit produced none of surprises or novelties considered possible in speculation prior occurrence, e.g., announcement reduction Soviet forces in GDR, Soviet-GDR peace treaty, etc. Absence of such surprises is itself indication primary objective Soviet visit was emphatic reaffirmation existing Soviet position in Central Europe related maintenance GDR as Communist German “state.”
Events of recent years have revealed twofold threat Soviet position Central Europe: (1) development West Germany, its rearmament, association with NATO, etc., and (2) events in Poland and Hungary which produced establishment Gomulka regime last October and Hungarian uprising. Despite divergent developments Poland and Hungary, a basic weakening Soviet power and control has been revealed in these areas lying between front-line Soviet position in Europe and frontier Soviet homeland.
Major purposes Khrushchev visit GDR were presumably related purposes visit Czecho, July 9–16. Visits GDR and Czecho were similar in duration, character, travel to provincial cities, folksy contact, and even in contents final joint communiqué.3 Presumably common purpose trips Czecho and GDR was to fortify Soviet power position in two loyal satellites on westernmost perimeter bloc.
Soviet visit GDR sought strengthen Soviet position Central Europe in following ways:
- By affirmation of status quo, with explicit profession that change can only take place on Communist terms, namely GDR confederation proposal which was wholeheartedly and unqualifiedly espoused by Soviet leaders. Soviets have thus given complete endorsement to GDR proposal for reunification; by doing so they are obviously willing reduce their flexibility and freedom of action regarding other reunification proposals.
- By effort increase international prestige of GDR, by calling GDR state, claiming treat it as state, Soviets presumably hope in time make headway acceptance GDR elsewhere as state, if status quo continues indefinitely. Soviet leaders “appealingly” stressed desire Soviet [Page 605] Union, only great power with diplomatic relations both German states, for establishment friendly relations between two German states.
- By reaffirmation Soviet political, military and economic support of GDR and renewal assurances Soviet Union will back maintenance of GDR in Communist bloc by military force if need be. Soviet and German leaders did not hesitate claim 900 million strong Communist bloc stands ready fight keep GDR first German socialist state in camp proletariat.
- By seeking to enhance the solidarity Communist camp by flamboyant demonstration Soviet-GDR party and government agreement on all issues.
- By confirmation SED leadership and endeavor foster popular support regime. Through profuse expressions friendship, Khrushchev has dispelled all rumors uncertainty about Ulbricht’s position. Ulbricht’s changed manner was remarkable from impassive, restrained, uncertain at arrival ceremony August 7 to relaxed, smiling, and ebullient at departure ceremony August 14. With Ulbricht’s position secure, GDR leaders may be expected continue faithfully current lines GDR policy.
- By strong propaganda demonstration to West that Soviet position is firm, that Soviet position on GDR is not a bargaining position for London disarmament conference nor elsewhere and that Soviets will not sell brother Commies down river into capitalist slavery.
To what extent Khrushchev’s visit actually achieved results in relation his purpose difficult to judge. Certainly his visit will not have any effect on basic attitude GDR population which hates drudgery and deprivation Communist-type existence and sees through farcical GDR statehood, but nevertheless is helpless in vise police–Kampfgruppen control system, backed by Soviet troops. However, we are not in position judge likely results in West Germany or elsewhere in world. Timing Soviet visit was doubtless related West German elections.4 Soviet pronouncements, sharp attacks on Adenauer and appeals for working class unity to accomplish in elections change composition Bundestag followed lines previous SED–KPD efforts throw support SPD. Soviet leaders are probably not much concerned whether such efforts may in this election boomerang to help Adenauer. Certainly their pronouncements are likely have effect discourage middle class or white collar elements shifting their votes to SPD. Soviet leaders may well be thinking in long range terms of infiltration SPD by former supporters of now prohibited KPD and gradual assumption crypto Communists influential positions in SPD.
There may be ominous note in fact that joint communiqué August 13 as well as Mikoyan at Soviet Embassy reception that day termed Berlin “capital of GDR” as had GDR spokesmen at arrival [Page 606] ceremonies. Soviet efforts build up GDR as sovereign state are likely have as natural corollary further turnover powers GDR authorities which could mean determined effort renew squeeze on Western position in Berlin.
No public announcements or statements during visit confirm likelihood this eventuality. Whether new secret Soviet-GDR agreements reached on issue will presumably be revealed during course next few months.
Conduct of Khrushchev and treatment accorded him throughout visit tend to confirm his emergence as single dominant Soviet leader.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.6162B/8–1557. Confidential. Repeated to Moscow, London, Paris, Warsaw, Prague, Bucharest, Budapest, Belgrade, Munich, and Washington. The source text is the Department of State copy.↩
- A Soviet delegation headed by Khrushchev and Mikoyan visited the German Democratic Republic August 7–14.↩
- For text, see Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1957, pp. 502–515.↩
- General elections were scheduled for September 5 in the Federal Republic of Germany.↩