279. Paper Prepared by the Operations Coordinating Board0
OPERATIONS COORDINATING BOARD REPORT ON GERMANY (EAST GERMANY) (NSC 5803—Supplement II)
(Approved by the President on February 7, 1958)
(Period Covered: From July 17, 1957 Through September 3, 1958)
A. Summary Evaluation
- Owing to the continued intransigence of the U.S.S.R., no progress could be made during this period toward achievement of the basic long-range objective of the reunification of Germany in freedom. The Communist regime of the Soviet Zone was able to continue the gradual consolidation of its position within Eastern Germany. Measures for greater control of the church, of universities, and of travel to the West have been effectively instituted. The Communist Party leader, Walter Ulbricht, carried out a successful purge of high-ranking party members who had taken a position at variance with his own program for pushing ahead rapidly with further steps of communization.
- The regime was successful in gaining a certain measure of international acceptance during this period. It received diplomatic recognition from Yugoslavia in 1957. It also succeeded in bringing official representatives of the United States and Belgium to negotiate directly with it for the release of the crews of aircraft which had strayed into the Zone and in inducing the Belgians to sign a formal governmental agreement with it in this connection.
- Continued use was made of the Western position in the Federal Republic and Berlin to make these areas appear attractive and the Zonal regime correspondingly unattractive in the eyes of the East Germans. Partially because of these influences, and owing also in part to the broadcasts of RIAS (Radio in the American Sector of Berlin) and to the various joint projects of the German population in maintaining the connections of the East German population with the West, the population of Eastern Germany has continued opposed to the regime though there is no longer any great hope of a resolution of their problems through the reunification of their country in the immediate future.
- A review of policy is not recommended.
B. Major Operating Problems or Difficulties Facing the United States
- Possibility of Uprising. The potentially most serious operating problem facing the United States is the possibility of an uprising in Eastern Germany. However, by present indications a widespread uprising in Eastern Germany appears unlikely though it always remains a possibility. Such an uprising might involve direct conflict between Soviet and NATO forces. If it were repressed by Soviet forces, Western prestige would suffer a heavy blow even though the U.S.S.R. would be still further discredited.
Hindering Regime Progress toward International
Acceptance. Another major problem we face is to prevent or
slow down further progress of the Zonal regime toward international
acceptance. Such acceptance could lead finally to widespread
international recognition of the Zone, and thus to the consolidation
of the Soviet position in Germany and in its European satellite
system. This problem has manifested itself particularly in the three
- The U.S.S.R. has attempted to transfer to the Soviet Zone regime its responsibilities for Germany as a whole, for the Soviet Zone and for Berlin under quadripartite agreements and arrangements. Simultaneously, the Soviet Zone regime has attempted to utilize its control over the territory and airspace of Eastern Germany, including the access routes to Berlin, to force the Western Powers, particularly the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and the Federal Republic, to deal with it officially and on a high level. The case of the American helicopter whose crew was forcibly retained by the regime in June 1958 (see paragraph 11 of Annex A to this Report) and used as a basis for the attempt to extort recognition from the United States is an excellent example of this process. Such dealings could be pushed further and further up the scale in the direction of diplomatic recognition. Evidence of Western acceptance could be used by the regime to encourage diplomatic recognition from uncommitted countries, particularly in Asia and the Near East, and to demonstrate to the population of the Soviet Zone that further resistance to the regime is futile since even powerful states hostile to the regime have come to accept it as part of the status quo in international affairs.
- Independent of but related to this process, have been the attempts of the GDR regime to exploit the German desire for reunification by bringing public pressure to bear on the Federal German Government to enter upon closer relations with the regime. There is already a considerable body of opinion in Western Germany which sees such relations as the only way to make progress towards German reunification. Closer official contact with East Germany is a part of the official policy of both [Page 735] major opposition parties. This trend would be greatly accentuated by further evidence of Western acceptance of the status quo in Germany, whether voluntary or enforced. Closer official relations between the Government of the Federal Republic and the Soviet Zone regime, whether through extortion or increased political pressure from within the Federal Republic, would have a considerable effect in undermining the case against international recognition of the Zone and in furthering acceptance of the regime outside Germany. Closer official relations could also be a step toward involvement in a morass of negotiations in which the Soviet Zone regime might be able to influence Federal Republic policy by exploiting the desires of the West German population for an improvement in the living conditions of their East German relatives and friends. The Soviet Zone regime might, for example, pose conditions which would limit the freedom of movement of the Federal Republic in foreign policy questions.
- The GDR regime has also striven to gain membership or participation in governmental and non-governmental international organizations, to establish trade and cultural missions abroad, and to establish connections between its agencies and institutions in the non-Communist world. Success in any of these efforts can be used as a lever to gain admission into additional organizations and given full exploitation in propaganda addressed to the Zonal population as an indication of world acceptance of the regime and the futility of further opposition to it. A further complicating factor in this context lies in the increasing tendency of Western public opinion to confound the Soviet Zone with countries of Eastern Europe with which it may be in the Western interest to improve relations and to feel that closer relations with the Zonal regime may result in an “evolutionary” development there—an illusory hope in the light of the regime’s total dependence on Soviet military support.
- Declining Morale. A gradual worsening of Soviet Zone morale, as the division of Germany continues, remains a severe problem. The regime is likely to take further repressive measures against the churches and within the universities of the Soviet Zone and against travel from the Soviet Zone to the Federal Republic. Such developments, coupled with continued failure of the Western Powers to bring the U.S.S.R. closer to a negotiated settlement of the German question and evidence of increasing international acceptance of the Soviet Zone, may result in increased apathy and an increased tendency to accept the continued existence of the regime as a permanent fact of life. Increases in the pervasiveness of this attitude would naturally assist the regime in further consolidating its position in the Zone.
Note: See National Intelligence Estimate NIE 12-56, dated 10 January 1956, “Probable Developments in the European Satellites Through 1960”.1
- Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5803. Series. Secret. For the section of this report on Germany (Berlin) see vol. VIII, Document 19. For the section on Germany (the Federal Republic) see Document 246. A Financial Annex is not printed.↩
- For text, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXV, pp. 115–118.↩
- Documentation on this incident and a similar attack on the British Mission the same day is in Department of State, Central File 762.0221.↩