265. National Security Council Report0

Supplement II to NSC 58031


General Considerations

Soviet control over East Germany has added to the power disequilibrium in Europe and thus to the threat to the security of the United States. Moreover, the continued division of Germany creates a serious element of instability in Europe which must be eliminated before a reliable and enduring basis for European security can be established.
At the present time all evidence points to the conclusion that the Soviet Union has no intention of abandoning its position in East Germany, or of seriously negotiating on the subject of German reunification. It continues to maintain substantial military forces in the area, while representing minor withdrawals as a significant reduction.
East Germany poses special and difficult problems of control for the USSR. While the East German regime has made limited progress in furthering its program, the East Germans are unlikely to accept of their own free will the Communist system which has been imposed upon them. A basic hope that reunification will somehow eventually be accomplished continues to be the main psychological support for the majority of East Germans in their disaffection with the Communist regime. The fact that the main body of the German nation in the Federal Republic has made remarkable advances in political freedom and economic well-being, together with the role played by West Berlin in providing a means of contact with the Free World, also serves to keep alive in East Germany the hope for an ultimate escape from Soviet domination. The situation in East Germany provides a showcase example of Soviet colonialism [Page 708] and furnishes opportunities for the West to exploit strong popular anti-Communist sentiments. Recently there have been numerous indications of unrest and uncertainty in the lower echelons of the East German Socialist Unity Party as a result of the repudiation of Stalin.
However, as long as Germany remains divided, various factors at work in East Germany will operate to weaken the resistance of the population to the regime. These factors include the wholesale Communist indoctrination of youth, the weakening under unrelenting police-state pressure of resistance groups now in existence, and the continuing flight to the West of anti-regime refugees.
It is in the national security interests of the United States to oppose Soviet control of East Germany and to seek the elimination of that control by means of the reunification of Germany in freedom. However, the United States is not prepared to resort to war to eliminate Soviet domination of East Germany, nor does attainment of this goal through internal revolutionary means appear likely so long as substantial Soviet forces are deployed in the area. Thus a basic change in Soviet policy toward Germany will be required before a German unification compatible with U.S. security interests can be attained. Until this change occurs, the possibilities for U.S. action vis-à-vis East Germany will remain limited.
The process by which a change in Soviet policy toward Germany may occur may be a very complicated one since it is closely related to many other elements in the total relationship between the Soviet Union and the West. However, in respect to Germany one essential line of action is the continued focusing of world opinion on the injustice of a Germany forcibly divided by the imposition of a Soviet-dominated puppet regime. Another essential line of action is the attempt to make more difficult Soviet control in East Germany, and to encourage the development of forces there tending to strengthen resistance to the Communist regime. Moreover, there may be developments, such as the riots of 1953, which offer opportunities for exploitation. Such pressures upon the Soviet Union may lead it ultimately to accept the reunification of Germany in freedom as one of the prerequisites for the relaxation of international tension and as indispensable to the creation of stable and permanent European security.
It is essential to this end that the NATO countries and, to the extent possible, non-NATO countries, demonstrate their support for reunification on a continuing basis. The United States will have to contend against the possible interest of certain uncommitted nations in trade connections with East Germany and combat the tendency of some Western European elements to favor political arrangements with the USSR based on a divided Germany.
The maintenance by the free world of contact with East Germans is an important element in the stimulation of their resistance to [Page 709] Communism, confidence in the West, and hope for a reunified democratic and independent Germany. Imaginative and flexible programs will be required, permitting quick adjustment to possible changes in Communist restrictions on the access of the East German population to Berlin and West Germany.


Basic: The reunification in freedom of a Germany enjoying a representative government based upon the consent of the governed and participating fully in the free world community.
To place the Soviets on the defensive by measures in support of reunification.
To undermine Soviet control over East Germany through exploiting the Western position in the Federal Republic and Berlin.
To diminish the reliability of the East German armed forces.
To minimize East German contribution to Soviet power and encourage changes in the present East German-Soviet relationship which would weaken Soviet control.
To conserve and strengthen the assets within East Germany which may contribute to U.S. interests in peace or war and to the ultimate freedom of East Germany.

Major Policy Guidance

Use appropriate means short of military force to oppose, and to contribute to the eventual elimination of, Soviet domination over East Germany and to promote the reunification of Germany in freedom, including, when appropriate, concert with NATO or other friendly powers, resort to UN procedures, and diplomatic negotiations.
Seek to increase popular and bureaucratic pressures against the present regime through the exploitation of discontent with political and economic conditions in East Germany.
Continue basic opposition to the Soviet-Communist system and continue to state its evils.
Encourage democratic, anti-Communist elements in East Germany. Stress the healthy aspects of a common German heritage and cooperate with other forces—such as religious, cultural, social—which are natural allies in the struggle against Soviet imperialism and seek to maintain the morale and will to resist Communist domination.
Stimulate and exploit conflicts within the Communist regime in East Germany and between it and other Communist regimes, as appropriate, to the achievement of our policy objectives.
Exploit the developing organizations of Western unity (NATO, WEU, OEEC, CSC, etc.) as a force working for a free European community including a reunified Germany.
Utilize both public affairs and diplomatic channels to focus world opinion on the injustices of a forcibly divided Germany and the oppressive actions taken by the East German regime against the population. Emphasize that the people of East Germany have been deprived of their right to self-determination by the violation of international agreements by the Soviet Government, particularly the agreement of the Heads of Government at Geneva regarding the reunification of Germany by means of free elections.2
Maintain contact with the people of East Germany and encourage resistance to the Communist regime by specific projects (administered by the West German Government through West German and private organizations supported by the United States to the extent necessary and appropriate) designed to (a) maintain a sense of identification with the West and (b) manifest our concern for the hardships of East Germans. This should include the provision of cultural, educational, welfare, and travel opportunities. However, an organized official program for the exchange of persons between the United States and East Germany would be inconsistent with our policy of the nonrecognition of the East German regime.
Reassure the East German people of our continued confidence in the eventual reunification of Germany in freedom by evidence of continued strong Western support for Berlin and our determination to remain in Berlin. Hamper Soviet exploitation of East Germany by maintaining Berlin as an example of Western accomplishments and as an island of resistance to consolidation of Communist control in East Germany, and by prompt and clear response to any Communist harassment of the city.
Oppose the recognition of the East German regime by other countries, seek to limit its influence, and support the Federal Republic in preventing the admission of representatives of the East German regime to international organizations or meetings.3
  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC Files, Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5803 Series. Top Secret.
  2. NSC 5803 is printed as Document 243; regarding Supplement I to NSC 5803, see the source note to Document 243.
  3. For the Directive of the Heads of Government, July 23, 1955, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. V, p. 527.
  4. On February 7, the President also approved a separate annex to Supplement II which reads as follows:

    • “1. Encourage the East German people in passive resistance to their Soviet-dominated regime when this will contribute to minimizing East German contributions to Soviet power or to increasing pressures for reunification. Foster disaffection in the East German armed forces.
    • “2. Avoid incitements to violence or to action when the probable reprisals or other results would yield a net loss in terms of U.S. objectives. In general, however, do not discourage, by public utterances or otherwise, spontaneous manifestations of discontent and opposition to the Communist regime, despite risks to individuals, when their net results will exert pressures for release from Soviet domination. [4 lines of source text not declassified]’” (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5803 Series)