22. National Intelligence Estimate0

NIE 12–59


The Problem

To assess prospects for political stability within the European Satellites and in the over-all Satellite structure during the next few years.

[Page 101]


A considerable degree of stability has been established in the Satellite area since 1956 and the Soviet leaders now appear determined to press for a faster pace of socialization in Eastern Europe. While we do not think a return to Stalinist oppression and exploitation is likely, Moscow almost certainly will seek over the next five years a steady though gradual growth in Satellite-wide conformity and adherence to the Soviet model. Increasing emphasis will be placed on efforts to coordinate Bloc economies, to complete the socialization of agriculture in all the Satellites except Poland, and, in general, to attain at least the outward forms required for this “transition to socialism” by 1965.
Though pressures on the Satellite peoples may increase as a result of these developments, and may sharpen general antipathy toward the regimes, widespread popular uprisings are unlikely. Factions within the various parties will almost certainly continue to exist—and perhaps occasionally become active—but such factions will, for the most part, probably remain hidden and kept under control by the dominant, Khrushchev-approved elements. Prospects for economic growth are good and there will probably be small but cumulatively significant improvements in living standards. For these reasons, most of the Satellite regimes will probably maintain a fair degree of political stability and achieve at least limited success in fulfilling their ambitious plans for a rapid speedup of socialization.
Such successes, however, will probably fall short of Communist hopes. The anti-Communist and nationalistic sentiments of the Satellite peoples, certain weaknesses within the Satellite parties and shortcomings in the Satellite economies will remain major problems which will, at a minimum, retard Communist progress throughout the area. There are, in addition, a number of possible outside factors, including events within the USSR itself (such as a succession struggle), frictions between the USSR and Communist China, or the divergencies of Gomulka’s Poland, which could jeopardize the stability of the Bloc structure.
The working relationship between Gomulka and Khrushchev now seems to be operating smoothly. Nevertheless, the moderate “Polish road to socialism” is inconsistent with Khrushchev’s determination to accelerate Communist progress in the USSR and socialist progress in the Satellites. The Poles may lag farther and farther behind developments elsewhere in the Bloc and thereby become a more and more disturbing element; the Gomulka-Khrushchev modus vivendi may become increasingly strained as a result. We do not expect any dramatic developments in Soviet-Polish relations over the next year or so, in part because of some Polish willingness to respond to Soviet pressures, in [Page 102] part because of probable Soviet caution. Yet over the long run tensions could slowly build up, possibly to a point of crisis.
Despite a further strengthening of its position last year, the East German regime continues to suffer from popular antipathy, party factionalism, and international disrespect, and still depends on the presence of Soviet forces. These facts, together with the division of Germany as a whole, make East Germany the Satellite most likely to be directly affected by major changes in Soviet or Western policies. Its future is inextricably involved in the Soviet attitude toward all Germany and toward the Berlin situation. A resolution of the Berlin crisis along lines favorable to the USSR would strengthen the GDR regime. On the other hand, should the Soviets fail in their efforts respecting Berlin, the political weaknesses of East Germany would probably be perpetuated for the foreseeable future.

[Here follows the “Discussion” section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INR-NIE Files. Secret. A note on the cover sheet indicates that the following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this report: the Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff. The note also indicates that the report was concurred in by the U.S. Intelligence Board on August 11. The Atomic Energy Commission Representative to the USIB and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained because the subject was outside their jurisdiction.