125. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State0

1409. Text of Soviet draft peace treaty for Germany published January 11 only confirms London’s excellent analysis of its pitfalls (London’s 3559 to Dept)1 and adds additional ones which, as under Soviet definitions of “hostile activity” (Article 18), of “war propaganda” (Article 20) as well as trade (Article 39), etc., would require revolutionary change in West Germany’s domestic order as well as in its foreign policy.

Moscow is obviously trying keep West thoroughly off balance. Soviets have had advantage of being initiators of Berlin crisis, and it is not improbable that Soviets have additional proposals in reserve to keep West on run in hope that as public opinion becomes even more jittery while deadline nears without solution, governments will be forced more and more to consider compromises.

In fact, Soviets have now broadened their original offer to talk about Berlin to include German peace treaty and also, perhaps, European security (since negative response to this item is not in firm language and may well be changeable in guise of great Soviet “concession”). Can be recalled that during abortive exchanges of US, UK, and French Ambassadors with Gromyko last spring to arrange summit meeting, West made known to Soviets that it might agree to general agenda formulation on Germany within which each side could raise subjects in which it was interested. Relying on this, on Bundestag wavering in recent months on “new approach” to Soviets involving peace treaty discussions, and on still considerable Western (especially British) sentiment for negotiation, Soviets may well conceive of their latest proposal as lure which finally gets Western states into some sort of highlevel conference where public pressures will be at maximum on them achieve positive result.

Obviously, Soviets will not now negotiate on reunification, and Moscow knows that West will not sign peace treaty. However, if they once have all powers assembled in some forum, they are capable of introducing new variations of previous proposals and of pulling out all propaganda stops. There is also curious provision in Soviet draft treaty (Article 45) that if all Allied powers do not ratify treaty, then Germany [Page 248] (presumably meaning GDR or FRG) can agree to accept treaty with those powers which wish to ratify (more or less as US did on Japanese Treaty). This may be hint of Soviet plans to announce readiness to sign separate treaty with GDR (and perhaps FRG too) at some stage of proceedings.

Latest Soviet proposals also intended to give new impetus to drive to get GDR recognized by West. Moscow may well believe that weakest link in armor of Western governments is failure of large part of public to understand why dealing with GDR would be so fatal. Although we see no reason to give up conclusion that real Soviet object is to get Allies out of Berlin and eventually to incorporate West Berlin into GDR (which maximum demands of November 27 note2 made clear), first step on which Moscow might be willing temporarily to agree could involve continued Allied presence in Berlin, but at sufferance of GDR which Allies would recognize. This would fit in more closely with Khrushchev’s original speech on November 103 and would seem to be confirmed by Winzer’s answer January 9 to Western journalist’s question (Berlin’s 567 to Department).4

Should be noted that only Izvestia January 11 published Western notes of December 315 and that Soviet reply when attempting to justify unilateral denunciation of agreements on Berlin conspicuously fails refer to 1949 Paris Agreements.6

Although too early in any case to expect any real modification of Soviet position on Berlin in direction of retreat or compromise, most indications still are that Soviets are not now thinking in those terms. Latest note is firm; Soviets have advantage of being able unilaterally to turn their Berlin functions over to GDR at any time; and, as Mikoyan said in US on Berlin crisis, “one does not change good positions”.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 662.001/1–1259. Confidential. Repeated to London, Paris, Bonn, and Berlin.
  2. Telegram 3559, January 9, reported that the Soviet proposals for a German peace treaty had become more novel and sophisticated, but less constructive. (Ibid., 033.6111/1959)
  3. See Document 72.
  4. See Document 24.
  5. Telegram 567, January 10, reported on a press conference on January 9 at which GDR Deputy Foreign Minister Winzer released a 13-page note on the Berlin situation and stated that the GDR would negotiate with the Western Allies on access to the city only if GDR sovereignty were recognized. (Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1–1059)
  6. See Document 118.
  7. For text of the Paris agreements, June 20, 1949, which ended the Berlin blockade, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. III, pp. 10621065.