6. National Security Council Report0
STATEMENT OF U.S. POLICY TOWARD THE SOVIET-DOMINATED NATIONS IN EASTERN EUROPE
1. Soviet control over Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany,1 Hungary and Rumania (referred to hereafter as the dominated nations) U.S. Policy Toward Poland is treated separately in NSC 5808/1. [Footnote in the source text. NSC 5808/1, dated April 16, 1958, is in Part 2, Document 46.] is a basic cause of international friction and, therefore, a [Page 19] threat to peace and to the security of the United States and Western Europe. Soviet determination to maintain control of these nations is also an obstacle to an over-all European settlement and to a significant relaxation of international tensions, including a comprehensive disarmament agreement.
2. The principal impediment to Soviet efforts to impose an effective Communist political, economic and social system on the peoples of the dominated nations is the anti-Communist and anti-Russian attitude of the great majority of the population in each such nation. This attitude is intensified particularly by severe restriction of personal and religious freedom, a continued low standard of living, and strong nationalist sentiment among the people, especially the youth, and even among certain elements within the Communist parties. An additional impediment is the continued refusal of the West, particularly the United States and its principal NATO allies, to accept the permanence of Soviet-imposed regimes as compatible with the principles of human freedom and self-determination of nations.
3. Although Moscow has not incorporated the dominated nations into the state structure of the USSR as it did the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (see Annex B), Soviet physical control over these nations remains firm. The USSR maintains Soviet troops in much of the area (see Annex A)3 and the Warsaw Pact formalized Soviet measures for coordination and control over the military forces of these nations. Political control is exerted both on a governmental level and through the Communist Party apparatus. Moscow also exercises control over the area’s economy through such means as the Council of Economic Mutual Assistance (CEMA) and through bilateral trade and aid agreements. There are no known anti-regime groups capable of successfully organizing coordinated and sustained resistance to the Communist regimes in any of the dominated nations. The United States has not been prepared to resort to force or threat of force either to eliminate Soviet domination or to support revolutionary movements.
4. After Stalin’s death in 1953, the stability of the Soviet political system in Eastern Europe was shaken by a succession of important developments, including: the elimination of a single source of ideological authority and the attacks on the cult of personality (personality of Stalin); the re-establishment of Party primacy over the police; the growth of the concept of “different roads to socialism”; and, in the campaign to increase labor productivity, an increased use of economic incentives and a decreased reliance on arbitrary police and administrative [Page 20] methods. These developments, which gave rise to policy and doctrinal conflicts within the Soviet leadership, were reflected in the decisions of the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956; and their impact spread throughout the Bloc. These developments added to growing uncertainty and confusion in the Communist parties and strengthened the hand of party dissidents seeking democratization and greater national independence. Party and popular unrest reached the greatest heights in Poland and Hungary, where in October 1956 Soviet authority was seriously challenged for the first time since the Yugoslav break in 1948.
5. Although surface stability has been restored and will probably be preserved over the next few years, an atmosphere of change and ferment more highly charged than under Stalin will probably continue for some time. The forces of unrest which underlay the troubles of 1956 are manifest in discontent over current policies within the Communist parties, particularly at middle and lower levels; in intellectual and student ferment; in popular hostility to the regimes, stimulated by party and intellectual dissidents; and in economic discontent, common to all who do not enjoy privileged rank.
6. Additional factors adversely affecting Soviet control in Eastern Europe are:
- The effects of the Hungarian revolt, which was a serious moral and ideological defeat for the USSR, will persist for some time. The revolt engendered an enduring hatred of the USSR. Future Soviet actions will be tempered by this demonstration of the risk of relying on indigenous armed forces and of failing to gain popular support for Communism.
- Poland’s ability to maintain the limited independence gained in October 1956 will be a key factor affecting future political developments in Eastern Europe. A Polish-type coup in the area is not likely soon, but if the Polish experiment is successful and Moscow’s acquiescence in it continues, nationalist elements in the dominated nations may be encouraged to seek greater autonomy.
- Similarly, the continued existence of Yugoslavia as a Communist nation independent of Moscow will tend to encourage nationalist elements in the area to seek greater autonomy.
7. In these circumstances, present Soviet policy appears to be one of experimentation in an effort to find a middle course between the alternatives of (a) placing primary reliance on policies of force and repression, and (b) granting increasing autonomy and independence to the Eastern European regimes. The first alternative would deny to these regimes the possibility of broadening their base of popular support. The second alternative would stimulate popular pressures for further concessions and might become extremely difficult to limit or control.
8. In this situation, Moscow may experience a diminished ability to exercise unilateral authority in the Communist world. The necessity for maintaining at least outward unity in the Sino-Soviet Bloc and the [Page 21] international Communist movement will, as in the past, lead the Soviets to compromise on some issues and at least to consider the opinions of other Communist parties on others. However, while the memories of Hungary and Poland remain fresh, the security of the USSR’s position will remain uppermost in Soviet minds and measures to insure it will be given first priority. This does not mean that Soviet leaders consider a return to Stalinist policies as either necessary or desirable. Rather, so long as Soviet hegemony and basic Communist tenets are not called into question, the USSR will continue to place major reliance on indirect methods of control, preferring to let the dominated regimes deal with their own internal problems unless these get out of hand.
9. In attempting to cope through flexible and pragmatic means with the complex problem of maintaining its position in the area, the USSR probably will:
- Attempt to obtain some form of East-West ratification of the status quo in Eastern Europe in the hope of undermining the dominated peoples’ hope of future U.S. support and thus reducing the likelihood of deviation and unrest.
- Continue to maintain sizeable armed forces in the area, particularly in East Germany, not only for military reasons but as an essential element in maintaining control over the dominated nations.
- Be prepared to use armed force to thwart any serious threat to its control in the area, although Soviet reaction to a Gomulka-type coup would depend on the circumstances of the moment; i.e., whether the threat to the Soviet position was sufficient to outweigh the disadvantages of military intervention.
- Continue to provide economic aid to the dominated nations in order to reduce unrest by improving living standards, to maintain the area’s dependence on the USSR, and to counter the appeal of increased trade between Eastern Europe and the West.
- Permit the dominated nations to enter into increasing but selectively-controlled contacts with the West, in an attempt, among other things, to influence world opinion, to obtain technological data and ease economic strains, and to appease the desires of the intelligentsia in the area for wider associations throughout the world.
10. The current ferment in Eastern Europe offers new opportunities, though still limited, to influence the dominated regimes through greater U.S. activity, both private and official, in such fields as tourist travel, cultural exchange and economic relations, including exchanges of technical and commercial visitors. Experience has shown that a U.S. policy designed to ostracize the dominated regimes has had the concurrent effect of inhibiting increased direct U.S. contacts with the people of the dominated nations. It is now apparent that, as a practical matter, substantial expansion of direct U.S. contacts with the peoples of these nations, and the development through such contacts of popular pressures upon the regimes for increased internal freedom and independence from Soviet control, cannot be achieved without more active U.S. [Page 22] relationships with and through these governments. Such relationships would enable the United States to probe, within the party and governmental bureaucracy, for those individuals or groups who show signs of independent thought, nationalist aspirations, or willingness to use their influence to modify their nation’s subservient relationship to the Soviet Union.
11. The West could have the greatest impact on Eastern Europe, and would run the greatest risk, through major East-West agreements which would fundamentally affect the European situation. The very fact of negotiations on any such issues as mutual troop withdrawals, German reunification, or the status quo in Europe, would have some impact on Eastern Europe. To the extent that the West seemed to be confirming Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe, morale among the peoples and potential party deviants would tend to be depressed. On the other hand, negotiations which appeared to offer hopes of a Soviet troop withdrawal, particularly if coupled with convincing guarantees against their return, would have an opposite effect. An East-West agreement on German reunification which was interpreted in Eastern Europe as an abandonment by the USSR of East Germany would almost certainly have major repercussions throughout the area. Unless countered by positive and vigorous Soviet action, these repercussions—in the form of increasing dissidence, ferment, Party factionalism, riots and strikes—might lead to upheavals or radical policy shifts toward greater external or internal freedom in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland.
12. With the passage of years during which Soviet domination of the Eastern European nations has continued, emigre national committees have proved less productive. This situation has been aggravated by internal factional strife and lack of unified purpose. There is no evidence that emigre politicians have any significant following in their homelands or that in the foreseeable future they will be able to return there to assume a role of political leadership.
13. Flexible U.S. courses of action, involving inducements as well as probing actions and pressures, are required to exploit the Soviet dilemma and sensitivities in the dominated nations and to complicate the exercise of Soviet control over them. In order to take full advantage of existing opportunities in this area, U.S. courses of action toward the dominated nations must appropriately exploit their individual historical and cultural characteristics and the significant differences of their respective present situations.
14. Albania is unique among the dominated nations for its political, economic and cultural backwardness. Despite post-Stalin trends toward liberalization elsewhere in the Soviet Bloc, the Albanian regime [Page 23] has shown few signs of deviating from the Stalinist pattern. Albania presents special problems to U.S. policy because it has traditionally been subject to rival claims and ambitions by Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia. The Albanian Communists have posed as the indispensable champions of Albanian independence and territorial integrity.
15. Albania has never been a nation of primary importance to the United States. Immediately after World War II, U.S.-Albanian discussions on the establishment of diplomatic relations broke down as a result of Albanian refusal to affirm the validity of pre-war treaties and agreements between Albania and the United States. There have been some indications recently that the Albanian regime may desire to establish diplomatic relations with the United States.
16. The Bulgarian regime, despite occasional top-level purges and discontent among intellectuals, appears relatively stable and able to maintain control of the nation. Communist efforts to make Bulgaria an industrial nation without the necessary resources base have produced serious economic problems. Large-scale unemployment has caused the Bulgarian regime to seek extensive economic aid from the Soviet Union and to adopt a new economic plan under which Bulgaria would specialize in light industry and truck-farming. The United States suspended diplomatic relations with Bulgaria in February 1950 after a series of harassments which culminated in Bulgarian action against the U.S. Minister as persona non grata on charges of subversion and espionage. Bulgarian leaders have several times indicated publicly and through diplomatic channels their desire for a resumption of relations.
17. Except for a brief period of ferment in the spring of 1956 following the disclosures at the 20th Party Congress in Moscow, Czechoslovakia has been a submissive satellite. The Czech people, although traditionally Western-oriented and anti-Communist, have remained largely apathetic under Soviet domination. Specific grievances are probably allayed to some extent by the Czech standard of living, which is appreciably higher now than it was during the Stalin era and is the highest in Eastern Europe. Anti-Soviet sentiment exists within the Party, and there are certainly some in the Party who favor greater independence; but the Party leadership, so far as can be determined, is steadfast in its adherence to the Moscow line. The regime has failed to eliminate the thorny minority problem. The Communist Party continues to have less influence in Slovakia than in Bohemia-Moravia, and the Slovak potential for active resistance is higher.[Page 24]
18. The present Communist regime in Hungary, in consolidating its physical control of the nation, has followed a policy of terror and intimidation clearly intended to wipe out all resistance. Although the Hungarian people continue to despise this regime, a surface calm prevails and the normal pattern of life under Soviet Communism has resumed.
19. A certain degree of moderation has been evident in the economic policy of the Hungarian regime. Collectivization of agriculture remains the ultimate goal, but Kadar has asserted that this will be achieved by “Leninist” persuasion rather than “Stalinist” coercion. A degree of private enterprise among artisans and small tradesmen has been tolerated though not encouraged, and there has been an effort to keep the market reasonably well supplied with consumer goods. With the aid of extensive grants and loans from the Soviet Union and the other Communist nations, the Hungarian economy has recovered from the effects of the revolution more rapidly than had been anticipated, though grave economic problems remain.
20. The Hungarian regime has not granted any appreciable internal political concessions in order to improve its international standing. It has, however, made continuing efforts to overcome its isolation by other means. It has been energetic in negotiating trade agreements with the West, has shown interest in cultural exchanges, and appears to be prepared to permit a degree of contact between Hungarians and the West. The regime has continued publicly to condemn the excesses of Rakosi even while following a basically repressive policy. For public consumption, at least, it has pictured itself as determined to steer a “middle” course between the extremes of Nagy-ism and Rakosi-ism.
21. Because Hungary has become an important psychological factor in the world-wide struggle of the free nations against expansionist Soviet Communism, U.S. policy must maintain a delicate balance; it must seek to encourage the same evolutionary developments as in the other nations of Eastern Europe, without compromising the symbol which Hungary has become. More restraint will be required in dealing directly with regime officials than in certain other nations of the area, and the timing of U.S. moves will be of great importance.
22. The physical hold of the Communist regime on Rumania remains firm. Such personnel changes as have occurred in the Rumanian Communist Government and Party since the Polish and Hungarian events appear to have been connected with internal Party differences, and have not been caused by overt public pressures for change.
23. One of the distinguishing marks of Rumanian Communist rule is an unwillingness to deviate too far from a moderate position in [Page 25] response to sudden changes of attitude in Moscow. The Rumanian Communists have consistently failed to attack Tito with the extreme fervor of some of the other Communist Parties while, on the other hand, they have never gone as far in the direction of liberalization as did the Hungarians prior to the 1956 uprising. Attempts both to pursue standard Communist goals and to allay the economic causes of popular discontent, have caused considerable economic strain.
24. Although unwilling to grant substantial political concessions to the population, the Rumanian leadership during the past year has sought an easing of relations and increased contacts with the United States in order to secure benefits in trade and technology and give substance to its claims of legitimacy and permanence in the eyes of its own people. The Rumanian regime is therefore exceptionally receptive to increased contacts with the West.
25. Short-range: Promotion of the peaceful evolution of the dominated nations toward national independence and internal freedom, even though these nations may continue for some time under the close political and military control of the Soviet Union.
26. Reduction of the contribution of the dominated nations to Soviet strength, and weakening of the monolithic front and internal cohesiveness of the Soviet Bloc.
27. Long-range: Fulfillment of the right of the peoples in the dominated nations to enjoy representative governments resting upon the consent of the governed, exercising full national independence, and participating as peaceful members of the Free World community.
Regional Policy Guidance4
Political and Diplomatic
28. In order to maintain and develop popular pressures on the pres-ent regimes and accelerate evolution toward independence from Soviet control:
- Expand direct contacts with the dominated peoples to exploit their anti-Communist and anti-Russian attitudes.
- As a means toward accomplishing a above, establish more active relations with the existing regimes, without creating the impression that the basic U.S. attitude toward those regimes has changed or will change in the absence of some significant modification in their character.
- Encourage the dominated peoples to seek their goals gradually. [5 lines of source text not declassified]
[1 paragraph (5 lines of source text) not declassified]
30. To impair and weaken Soviet domination, exploit divisive forces by appropriate measures including:
- Fostering nationalist pride and aspirations among the people and within the regime leadership.
- [2 lines of source text not declassified]
- [1–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]
- Publicizing evidences of unequal treatment by the USSR.
- Encouraging comparisons of the lot of the dominated nations with that of the USSR and with each other.
31. Emphasize on appropriate occasions the U.S. view that the people of each nation should be independent and free to choose their form of government; and avoid any action or statement which could reasonably be represented in the dominated nations as advocacy of a return to the authoritarian systems of government which existed prior to or during World War II.
32. Reiterate on appropriate occasions in public statements that the United States does not look upon the dominated nations as potential military allies and supports their right to independence, not to encircle the Soviet Union with hostile forces, but so that they may take their rightful place as equal members in a peaceful European community of nations.
33. Continue in official public statements:
- To point out the evils and defects of the Soviet-Communist system.
- To reiterate U.S. refusal to accept the domination of these nations by the USSR as an acceptable status quo.
- To stress evolutionary change.
34. a. Encourage the regimes in the dominated nations to take independent initiatives in foreign relations and domestic affairs.
b. Take advantage of every appropriate opportunity to demonstrate to these regimes how their national interest may be served by independent actions looking toward more normal relations with the West.
35. Be prepared to discuss and negotiate issues between the United States and the individual regimes. When complete solutions are not possible, be prepared to accept partial solutions which do not impair U.S. objectives.
36. Endeavor to bring the dominated nations increasingly into the activities of international technical and social organizations in order to contribute to their greater independence from Soviet influence and be to U.S. advantage.[Page 27]
37. Continue as appropriate to support selected emigres or emigre groups capable of making a positive contribution to U.S. objectives, while gradually phasing out support of less useful emigre organizations.
38. Exploit the benefits received by Yugoslavia and Poland from their relations with the United States as an inducement to the regimes of the dominated nations to seek closer relations with the West.
39. Continue application of “U.S. Policy on Defectors, Escapees and Refugees from Communist Areas” (NSC 5706/2)5 to nationals of the dominated nations, except that:
- [5 lines of source text not declassified]
- Avoid publicity concerning defectors, escapees and refugees unless such publicity would produce a net advantage to the United States.
41. Encourage voluntary relief agencies to undertake appropriate operations in the dominated nations if opportunities arise. Be prepared to offer food and other relief assistance, through voluntary agencies or otherwise, to the peoples of the dominated countries when emergency situations occur.
42. Seek the alleviation or settlement of long-standing economic issues (issues claims, surplus property and other financial obligations) between the dominated nations and the United States.
Information and Exchange Activities
43. a. In dominated nations with which the United States maintains diplomatic relations, conduct as many information and cultural activities as are considered desirable and feasible.
b. Continue radio broadcasting activities to all the dominated nations.
c. Encourage private information and cultural activities in the dominated nations, recognizing that private media can engage in activities which would promote U.S. objectives but for which the United States would not wish to accept responsibility.[Page 28]
d. Be prepared when necessary to permit information and cultural activities in the United States by the diplomatic missions of the dominated nations on an approximately reciprocal basis.
44. To promote expanded contacts and to revive and revitalize traditional bonds between the dominated nations and the United States, encourage, as circumstances in a particular nation may warrant:
- Contacts between U.S. individuals and individuals in dominated nations in religious, cultural, technical, business, and social fields.
- Contacts between U.S. business and other organizations and organizations in the dominated nations in comparable fields, including the exchange of delegations of technical experts.
- Participation, where feasible and appropriate, in international trade fairs, film festivals, etc., organized by the dominated nations, inviting on a basis of general reciprocity their participation in such activities in the United States.
- An expanding exchange program of students and teachers and increasing numbers of leaders’ and specialists’ visits.
- Tourism, on an approximately reciprocal basis, particularly visits between relatives and friends.
45. Entries, visits, and activities in the United States of individuals or groups from Soviet-dominated nations shall take place under ICIS- approved internal security safeguards.
Policies of Other Free World Nations
46. Encourage Western European nations to adopt policies toward the dominated nations parallel to those of the United States, and in particular to concert together through established institutions such as NATO, OEEC and the Council of Europe for the purposes of (a) taking all practicable steps to extend Western European influence among the dominated nations of Eastern Europe, and (b) exploiting the concept of an integrated, prosperous and stable European community.
47. Seek to counter Soviet efforts to use the dominated nations for penetration of the less-developed nations.
Special Country Policy Guidance
48. Promote increased Western contacts with Albania and encourage other Western nations to establish diplomatic missions there. When appropriate, recognize and establish U.S. diplomatic relations with Albania, subject to certain conditions, including a guarantee of correct treatment of U.S. diplomatic personnel and satisfactory settlement of the question of the validity of pre-war treaties between Albania and the United States.
49. After U.S. recognition of Albania, permit travel of U.S. tourists in Albania.[Page 29]
50. Seek through negotiations to re-establish diplomatic relations with Bulgaria in the near future, subject to appropriate conditions and suitable guarantees.
51. After U.S. resumption of relations with Bulgaria, permit travel of U.S. tourists in Bulgaria.
52. Expand contacts and reporting opportunities in Slovakia. Be prepared to permit reciprocal re-establishment of Czech consulates in the United States on a one-for-one basis, despite the additional opportunity thus afforded for Communist espionage and subversion in the United States.
53. Seek to stimulate nationalist feeling by such means as references in U.S. propaganda to the Ruthenian territory annexed by the USSR in 1945 and frequent references to the Soviet Union’s exploitation of Czechoslovakia’s uranium resources.
54. Emphasize in U.S. propaganda past and present contributions of Czechoslovak intellectuals and scientists to demonstrate that the common interests and basic orientation of these groups is toward the Free World rather than toward the USSR.
55. Continue to keep the Hungarian issue alive through diplomatic action, within the United Nations, through official and non-official U.S. media, and through the encouragement of public reactions and protests in Free World nations against repressive developments in Hungary.
56. Work toward the satisfactory integration of Hungarian refugees in the Free World through support of legislation aimed at regularizing the status of the parolees in this country and through continuing by the Escapee Program to assist in the solution of settlement problems in other nations.
57. In order to permit a substantial number of Americans to visit in Hungary, continue currently to interpret travel restrictions liberally, and for the next tourist season consider removing entirely the passport validation requirement.
58. Encourage cultural and scientific exchanges with Hungary on a case-by-case basis. Do not permit at this time the sending of large prestige attractions to the United States, the exchange of official Government delegations, or visits to the United States by leading members of the Hungarian regime.[Page 30]
59. Seek to exploit fully the opportunities which exist at present in Rumania because of the receptive attitude of the regime, particularly in economic and cultural relations.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, JCS Records, 092 (9–14–49) IN 15 RB. Secret. A title page, a table of contents, and a May 24 covering note by Lay are not printed. In the covering note, Lay noted that paragraph 40 of NSC 5811 and Annex C of that paper were being referred to the Secretary of State for additional study and would be reconsidered by the NSC at its meeting on June 19. See Document 8.↩
- While many of the considerations set forth in this paper with respect to the Soviet-dominated nations of Eastern Europe also apply to East Germany, there are a number of respects in which special considerations are applicable to East Germany, owing to the fact that the United States regards it as under Soviet military occupation and not as a separate “nation”. The specific problems of East Germany and Berlin are treated in the Supplements to NSC 5803. [Footnote in the source text. NSC 5803, “U.S. Policy Toward Germany,” February 7, 1958, is printed in vol. IX, Document 243.]↩
- Annex A, a table on military forces in the Soviet-dominated nations of Eastern Europe and Poland, is not printed.↩
- NSC policies on the Soviet Bloc (Bloc NSC 5726/1, “U.S. Civil Aviation Policy Toward the Sino-Soviet Bloc”, December 9, 1957, and NSC 5607, “East-West Exchanges”, June 29, 1956) will continue to apply except as modified by this policy or by exceptions in the policies concerned. [Footnote in the source text. See footnote 1, Document 5.]↩
- See footnote 1, Document 5.↩
- By NSC Action No. 1914–b-(3), action on paragraph 40 and Annex C of NSC 5811 was deferred, pending further study by the Secretary of State of the foreign policy implications of expanding non-strategic trade with the Soviet-dominated nations for primarily political purposes, and a report on the results of such study for Council consideration at the June 19 meeting. [Footnote in the source text. In a June 23 memorandum to the NSC, Lay quoted the text of paragraph 40 as agreed to at the June 19 meeting (see Document 8) and subsequently approved by the President and requested that it be inserted in the text of NSC 5811/1. (Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5811 Series)]↩
- Top Secret.↩