Special Memorandum 6-68: THE USSR AND EASTERN EUROPE

Created: 3/21/1968

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SUBJECTi The USSR end Eastern Europe


* This memorandum was produced solely by CIA. It was prepared by the Office of national Estimate* and coordinated with the Office of Current Intelligence.

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A. laatern Europe la alive with political movement once esaln. Recent weeks hart seenerthrov of the eatabllahed "conservative" order Inhe outbreak of wideepread student violence In Poland, end an open clean between Romania and the USSR at Budapest. While all these develop-nente have had eaaantlaUy anti-Soviet Implications, the pattern of events in each of theif three countries varies coo-aldcrebly. The newlj dominant forcer in the Czechoslovak party are coamitted to substantial Internal reformore independent

courts la foreign policy. Party leednrs In Warsaw, though other-via* divided Into contesting factlone, seem united In thtlr determination to oppose popular demands for similar changes In Polish pollolss. And the regime In Romanli, though also hostile to liberal reform, is largely free of any such domestic pressures and ooncentntes Instead on Its running battle for independence from toe Soviet Onion.

odds are against any explosion in Easternto that which occurred Politicalsod public roods have changed greatly In the There laeel prospect that CxechoelnvaXls villto act Itaelfath denied to it in the pest, towarddegree of liberty at noma and sovereignty abroada place of Its own, somewhere between Eaat and Wait.

la true nonethelessa an Ingredient ccesnon to therecant developments in Eastern Europe. It lathat, as in Hungaryopular uprisingpontaneous uvent and thus would be Some of the unusual political coodltlooain Hungary before the revolution are visible todayand the flash point could yet be reached.

to* Bovlet leaden, there li probablyabout tba trend of events In Eastern Europe andsobs disagreement as veil. Beyond this, however, thereaelnc soaewhat obscure. Moscow has lost its nen(Hovtr>jy) but has not adoptedclear sttltude toward(Dubcek). The Soviets apparently were notsee the Romanians walk out of the Budapest conference,that they mayess conciliatory sunroach toprobleai. They eight resort to heavier politicalefforts and economic blackmail la an attempt toor Rcam-.lan excesses, but they probably have littlethat such aetbods would prove very effective.

events get completely out of handoaplete collapse of Ccanunlat authoritythe Sovieta would, of courae, once nore face

the bard choice ofor not to intarveae with troop*. Though they would be avea sore reluctant to do so than they veran the end they would probably decide that they could oat tolerateetback end would intervene. They night think this feasible, however, only If their supporters In Prague first succeeded in provoking violence.



1. The grestisn settlement la Esetern Europe --

peinfully improvised and constructed in the wake of the events


s today on the verge of dissolution. Romenia, long

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the Bloc naverick, has dran.etir.ed lta denial of Soviet hegeaony


over ita foreign policies by stalking out of the Communistin Budapest. Crechoslovakis, for yeers the docile ally, baa successfully defied the USSR and la now eDbarklngew and much more nationalist road. And Poland, under Qomulka the prime example of the proper Soviet ally, could be Ignitedbower of aperks from neighboring Czechoslovakia. To the leaders in Moscow, especially to men such tv Brerhnev and Suslov, whose political fortunes at home will not remain untouched by the course of events In Eastern Europe, the picture must appear bleak Indeed. By the same token, the temptation to intervene forcefully may become very atrong.


2. It is over eleven years since the revolution in Hungary snd the political upheaval In Poland. Much has changed in Eastern Europe snd in the world in that time, and the present situation

should not be Been as one likely to produceepent Th'j situation today is vastly more complex. Inthe countries of Eastern Europe, taking sdvsntsge of the throes6 tall oi ration in the US SB, reacted against Stalinism and the Stalinist bonds which held them in thrall to Moscow. Each state, of course, behaved in its own fashion, but everywhere the issues were essentially the same and, in Poland snd Hungary, it seemedime toeae of nationalist heroes vs. Hoaeovite villains.

3. hough the spiritStalin Is in some instancesalive, and though the name of Stalin la still inveighed in partlssn cause, the Issues sre more diffuse end the political situations in the various countries are more co replica ted. The heroes sre lest conspicuousDubcek does not seen an entirely suitable replacement for lore Hagy. The villiens are also less obvious. The Rakosisthe brutal end heavy-handed local Stallnaere gone, and (Ulbricht aside) the Rokossovskya

visible Soviet ogenta at the highest levelsare gone too. The national leaders, even the loyal Gomulkas snd Kadars, are for the most pert precisely that. The politicians now quarrel over the kind of support, if any, to give to the Soviet Union in Its struggle with China, the treatment accorded the Hungarian minority


in Bomenls, and tha Boat deal rati* timing for diplanaUc recognition of tht rtderal Republic of Oereacy, all matters of substance quite loeoocalvabla In Stalln'i tla*. For their part, tha people at large probably feel that they now hare scae atake in the pre-aervatlon of public order and nay In general beetter frame of mind mm they now eat nore and suffer leas at the hands of the aecret police.

U. Finally, Europehole baa changed greatlyest Germany has framed new and more flexible policies toward the East. And many of the East European states, moved by economic considerations snd encouraged by the USSR's own policies of detente, aee In Improved relatione with West Oermany and western Europe an opportunity to laeaen their dependence on Hoe cow andhance to participate aa aoverelgn equalsommunity of Europe. Thus there is now inlausible alternative to perpetual Soviet dominance In Easternrospect which was not at all vialbla

5. ne ways, the differences6 and today could work to keep matters from reaching the flash point. In Romania, the party is united, la firmly In control, and la not opposed by the people. In Poland, the psrtythough otherwise divided


appear! at least to be united against the demands for liberal reform. In Ciechoelovakla, the protesters are not simply beating their heeds sgainst Soviet and local Ccezminiat obduracy and stupidity; with Hovotny removed, the dominant force within the partyo be seriously intent on reform and thuseaningful public support. Moreover, among maror patriots (perhaps especially in Czechoslovakia) there la now the feeling, baaed on the experiences6 and what baa happened since vithin the Ccennuniat movement, that their cause will surely vS- on the end if it la in the meantime pursued with persistence and petience but not with passion.

6. There are, however, some notable similarities6 in both yeara, the roots of discontent have flourished in nationalist solla enriched quite Inadvertently by the Soviet Union. In both yeara much of the ferment vaa stirred up by intellectuals, in and out of the parties, and by students, intolerant of compromise. In both yeara, the way was shown, in spirit if not in letter, by countries which had alreadydefied the USSR, Tueoslavla6 and Romaniand, finally, iu both years, the USSR vss ruled notingle, purposeful leader butollective of concerned end uncertain




7. Toe situation today may thus be buildingituation comparable to that of, say, the spring and summer The arguments be in/ joined today in Eastern Europe are potentiallythey are ultimately concerned not with the degree of Soviet control and the degree of popular freedom, aa* On the contrary, the purport of the Romanian experiment ia the termination of Soviet control, and the lasue in Czechoslovakia in democracy in the Czech tradition, not merely in some hybrid Marxist-Leninist form. Moreover, as demonstrated by student riots in Poland and the public outcry in Czechoslovakia, theee societies aretate of gXMt agitation. Asmotions are running high andilling over into neighboring states.

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Czcchoslovakls.. From the look- rfS at the moment, it is tempting to conclude that only the thin red line of Hovotny end hia cohorts now stands between Czechoslovakia snd freedom. Even without the USSR locoing massively in the background, it is not, of course, quite that simple. Hovotny's resignationwhich now seems likelyould represent another grave setback for

Except, of course, for those few hectic and heady days in Budapestree Hungary withdrew from the Warsaw Pect.


tho forced of conservatism out it would notrk their final defeat. Seme of the current exuberance in Prague ebould probably be discounted aa only the natural outgrowthudden (end perhaps temporary) removal of tight censorship; one isreminded of the out-pourings of conscience sod theenthusiasms of the "revisionists" in theflush of the Qomulka triumph in Polsnd The people have so far displayed good temper, but if their high hopes were suddenly dashed, the mood could become ugly, even violent. It la true nonetheless that the omens so far are that the rubcek regime la seeking to effect reforrsa without unleashing uncontrcliable popular demands. At present, there is reason to foresee significant changes in the quality of the regime et hese and promisiLgIn ita policies abroad. inimum,ush toward anarchy sod an unexpected return of the conservatives, Moscow's relations with Prague will probably never again reat on anumption of ready Czechoslovak compliance.

9.. Poland, There have long been wheels within wheels in the confused and tight little world of Polish politics. ome


ways, thla has perhaps made Gomulka's task sll the easier; only

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be baa been able to apin these vtieciore or less in the*'i-i ', !

direction when national momentum seemed to require it. More and



mora of lata, however, he baa found that tbe track bj baa chosen to followstraight down the Soviet linela of little liking to elements in the party. More important, perhaps, are the current signs that politico! strife ia no longer confined to the party. Oomulka's policies have finally provoked the studente and, et leastime, the Intellectuals to move with courage and determination. It may beong period of popular acquiescence end opethy is coming to vi end.

10. For years, the Polish regime has been sustainedeneral feeling that Oomulka,isappointment, was probably the beat one could hope for under the circumstances. How, apparently, two things are happening. First, Gomulka is severely compromising hia own reputationatriot and some Polesthough probably unclear ao to what the alternatives might beare wondering if some other leader should not be tested. Second, and certainly related, the circumstances which seemed to require Oomulka's special abilities to handle the Soviets may in the public mind be changing; students and Intellectuals, for example, may be coming to feel that, as Poles, they can hardly do leas than the Czechs end the Romanlana, and that the time ia now ripeew try against the Russlsns.

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Tb* scene In Romania la, of courae,comparable in some ways to tnct in Belgrade in theomestic stability resting very largely onof the regime's defiance of the Soviet Union. Thisturned to Communist advantage, and It la no doubtwidely observed elsevhare In Eastern Europe. In anybecause of this nationaliaa, to ponder vhat next Inoften to consider tba far-fetched. It often seems thathave gone about as far aa they cen go; Just aa often,

of couraa, the observer may be surprised. It is nov clear thatbey cod tba requirementslarple prudencehe Romanians have never set any particular limits, on vhat they plan to do; It is the Soviets who must set the limits, or at least try. The Ceausascu regime, in fact, considers the USSR In msny vaya to be tba chief obstacle to the senlevement of Romania's national goals and behaves accordingly.

is to say, tbers isto Romanian ambitionsstraightforwardof national independencefor the most p. rt already been accomplished In anyalso acta at times In vtys which undercut Sovietareas only very Indirectly related to the question of (This seems to be tba case, for example, in the


Middle Salt.) And In instances of soma bearing on thal on of Independence, such aa ita policies in Eastern Europe, Bucharest's resolve is not simply tr win its autoncaty but to protect, advertise, and expand it. st refueee to Join In the campaignChins, not because xt likes the Chinese or aeca other then madness in the cultural revolution, but because Maomad orseful ccWterwelgbt to Brezhnev. Ceauseseu snd company would likeastern countries to follow the Romanian lead, and welcome signs of Incipient Czechoslovak support, not out of any concern for the purity of doctrine and the future of the cause, but largely because thisood way to embarrass Moscow, complicate its policies, and forestall itaf any, to set things aright.

The Soviets

13. There is simply no sure way of knowing st this point Just how alarmed the Soviets might be about the trende of events in Eastern Europe. For all their awareness of the dangers of

nationalism and probable anxieties over current upsets, some of

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the Soviet leaders sre probably still given to rationalization

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and some may still be half blinded by an Ideology which Oilcouragea the perception of socialist serbscks. Beverthelesa, es indicated earlier, the Soviet* can scarcely derive any comfort from what is

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now taking Soviet preference* in Ciechoslovakla, for example, vara quite clearly rebuffed and, according to aoveirect Soviet effort* in Prague to enforc* too**were just aa clearly defeated.

1*. he beet clue ve now have a* to current Soviet preferences was the USSR's behavior during the recent Communist conference In Buda^eat. The Soviets at Budapest were little inclined to calm or negotiate with tban scam ways. In fact,arned that the Soviet* egged the RonaalaB* on and ware not at all dlapleeeed with their departure. It amy he tooto read in thisirm declaration of Soviet policy, but yeara of compromise and of diffident attempt* to pressure the Romanian*ore "constructive" course have brought the Soviet* naught, it is beginning to look as if the Soviets feelm*Lier unified bloc of partiesc*pabl* of la suingariety of subjects and susceptible to firm 6oviet leadershipIs betterarger body willing to deal only In irreaolute generalities and in part ho*tile to Soviet dominance. Perhaps they have decided, la fact, that It la time to try scmebow to Isolate Romania, or at least to seek in some way to contain Romanian Influence on the policiea and desire* of the other Eaatern European states, if so, the

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Boviete have out forather large order. The new Czech leaders, for example, have already strongly hinted of their sympathy for Bucbereat'a attitude endlargely because they would aee Inhreat to their own independencewould not be likely to go along with any such Soviet campaign against Romania



13. The present position of tha Soviet* toward the Dubcek regime in Czechoslovakia is obscure. So far, Moscow has been silent and ha* remained very much in the background, unable or, burned once, urn llliog to try again to intervene. In any ease, and not surprisingly, the Soviet* have chosen publicly to ignore much of what la now going on in Czechresumably hoping that much of tho hue and cry will soon die down. Certainly they have not seemed st all anxious to end eager their position in Prague (whatever that might be) end the party'* position in Czechoslovakia (already in decline) by aountlng an all-outto bring Rovotny back. They must be wondering, however, whenroper Ccemnmiatla going to take charge and silence the extremist* in the Csech press and sit on the radicals in the Czech party. At least some Soviet leadcra must fear not only that Czechoslovakia could become another Romania, Independent end difficult in its foreign affairs, but

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that the Csechoslovak party, lacking effective leadership, could disintegrate ana leave the country in the hand* of "dark reaction".

16. The events in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere have probably by now created sons controversy and perhaps some heat within the Soviet leadership. Brexhaev, Podgorny, and Susie* have been especially close to davelonaents in Eastern Europe and are probably vulnerabla to charges of having Disband led their responsibilities. In any case, the options now available to the Soviets, especially In the event of an explosion in Eastern Europe, areharacter almost certain to breed dleegreenent at the top. It Is not too difficult, at any rate, to Imagine 8uslov, Invoking doctrine and counseling an lamed late and lmncderata approach, In opposition to Koaygln, examining the facts andeasure of patience. Some of the leaders amy be advocating preemptive sctlonsay an ultimatum to Dubcek to arrest the dangerous drift in Czechoslovakia, through force if necessary, or face strong Soviet ccajntermcssures. Others, however, amy be less concerned with the USSR's ability to control the destlalea of these states sad be spprehenslve that clumsy Soviet interference sight only provoke reaentment, threeten Soviet

influence, and create problems for the USSR elsewhere, especially

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To be sure, the mood of the post-Khrushchev collective baa been predominantly conservative. Tola baa meant In Eaatern Europe that Soviet policy baa in moat Instances folloved the familiar and careful path. Thus the Soviets gave their support to Novotny not only because he vaa their man but also because, good, bad, or indifferent, benown quantity. Similarly, concerning Romania, the Soviet leaders have at least until recently triad to play It safe, avoiding confrontations even when seemingly invited not to do so by Bucharest.

But Moscow's caution (or Its conservatism) Is notits UaJts, as was suggested this month in Budepeat when

Hoccow used hard-line spokesmen, such ss Bakdssh of the Syrian party and Bonecker of the East German, to attack Romania and to extol Soviet-led (or Soviet-Imposed) unity. As always, the Soviets are certala toariety of pressures and even lnduce-aents to try to influence the course of events In Eectern Europe. Should they become sufficiently alarmed or angered by developments in, say, Csechoslovakla, they would probably bring to bear very heavy pressures indeed: direct intervention la Czech political affairs, to the point perhaps of working for an internal party coup; interference with the normal flow of trade and economic

negotiations, perhaps selective at first but Increasingly disruptive

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over tine; end, eventually, hint* anJ wa'alnge of militaryperhape with related troop movement* designed to lend subatance to the threat*.

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19. It la worth noting that the Sorteta have. In fact, used all ofethods In the past against obatrenerous allle* and thatwith the possible exception of Polandhey have In each known instance failed of their pnrpoec. The Soviet* no longer seen to have the resources within individual parties to set policy or to determine the composition of the leadership, es recently demonstrated anew in Ctcchcelovaki*. In meethe Eastern European Communlat leader must count on domestic bases of support to preserve his position; reliance on Moscow i* risky (because there can be no assurance that Soviet support will not evaporate or suddenly shift to someone else) andas again Remonstrated in Czechoslovakia by Hovotnyla unlikely to aave him in any case. Economic preeeurea do not appear to be any mora promisingperhaps less so. They failed dramatically when used against Tugoelsvis, Chine, end Albania, all countries which, on rational economiclone, should have succumbed. Threat* of military lntarventlon have, in the pest, had questionable ccneeeuencce; In any event, Moscow probably understands that, to be affective, they must appear genuine and, in the end, be carried

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The Soviet* vere reluctant to we their armiesefecting state (Hungary) They would probably be evenao today, largely because It would at one stroke destroy their political inveataent la Western Europe, ao Much larger now thannd severely dsaage their prea'-ige in tba world at large, significantly improved It la true nonetheless thatao aurtter this generally enhanced reluctance to use military forcethe Soviets could someday find themselves faced once more with the questionwhether to Intervene with troops or to allow one or another etate and perhaps ultimately all oftern Europe to go its own way. Where then ere the limits of Soviet tolerance sod where would they likely be In the event of so explosion? How wall, la fact, can we, or they, define them?

It baa been fait, at least,hat the USSR would not tolerate in any of the Bloc states either aa Internal collapse of Communist authorityitbdrswal from the Vsresw fact. Up to those two points, Soviet reactions might be equivocal, but once they had been reached the Soviet reepoovc would be swift and sure, as In Hungary This estimate, in effect aede both in Waahington and In Eaatern Europe, waa probably sound foryears. But, as Indicated, it should today be subject to

some further examination because Its first propositionconcerning


Ccozjuniit authoritymay be put to aariouj teat. And It la subject to soma qualification baciuse tha eecood of Ita pro-poaltioaaconcerning tha Varaaw pactbaa already been at laaat partly tested and found wanting.

22. There are in any given situation "apeeial" eircumatancea which help to explain national behavior which departsosited norm. Thus there were special circumstances in the oaae of Albania's de facto withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact which helped to explain why the Soviets did virtually nothing about It, Tit. Albania's sis*which meant that it wae unimportantand Albania's rsmoteneae from the Soviet Unionhich created major problems of movement and supply for the Soviet armed forces. It is true, however, that had Moscow been so pained by the principle of withdrawal from the Pact, it could have moved militarily to crush the offending regime (which would have, inter alia, saved the Soviet submarine bases on the Adriatic). This is important because Bomanis has been heeding toward the Albanian.iscontinuation of active participation In and cooperation with the Pact, and it too baa gotten away with it. So far, presumably in part because they hev* been fairly careful to keep up seem of the appearances of Pact membershipwhich sUows the Soviets to save fecethe Romanians nave not been



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confronted wit* tht prospect of Soviet military intervention. All of which suggests thtt meaningful membership in the Warsaw Pact la no longer necessary for survival for sraa of the states of Eastern Europe (presumably at least the southern ones).

23. The question of the continuation of Conejuniat rulerather than the perpetuation of the Warsaw Pact and what It aynbolizea "thus he the key one in Moscow. Conceivably, the Soviet leaders could cone to feel that the Bloc, qua Bloc, was not all that vital. Aa, in fact, they have less-wed to liveruly independent socialist Tugoslavia, so too they could bring themselves to try to get alorg with an equally independent socialist Czechoslovakia. But the collapse of Communist control in any of the Bloc countries would damage the USSR's prestige, embarrass Its ideology, and threaten its vital interests (including even the security of its frontiers). It could lead to chaos andtempt similar developments in other Bloc. most ominously for the Soviets in Eastnd even Invite Western Involvement. The stakes would thus seemhigh and the hazards of Inaction extremal? grave. Unless, as seems meet unlikely, the Soviets concluded that their intervention

would be actively and forcibly opposed by the West, they would


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probably believe that tha disadvantages of Intervention by oo aetBi lacouldenbl*-sould simply have to to suffered. This certainly wee their conclusion6 and though they now have nore to lose then they did then, ita seesage seems apropos even today.


The Hungarian revolution, aa such, was not predictable. The Initial uprising was spontaneous, and tha regis*'s issaedlateto coenmromles, snd then Its desperate beats to capitulate, canehock to practically everybody, on both aldea. The revolution was preceded, however,asherve leprae ate whichavorable eliaete for spontaneity snd prepared the way for the eollapss of the regime. These developments were visible (snd obssrved) at the tine. They were: he gradual dls-appearance of effective reatrietlons on the expression ofand communication* among thehe subsequent discovery by the dissidents of their own determination end strength end the concomitant realisation that change was not only desirable but alsohe uncertainty, ignorance, and cellousnsas of the CPSUj (U) tha related confusionungarian party torn between factions andoherent program;he dls or sanitation end demonon of the partyhole which attended all of th* above.


There la, aa far aa we know, no organised group in Baatarn Europe which is now aerioualynvolution. But again, if it la going to happen, it will be spontaneous and thus no more predictable than Many of the clrcuDartaacea Hated above exist today In Czachoalovakia and others seen ready to make their appearance. This la not the case in Poland, but the potential for mindless violence In Weresw la probably greater than In Prague. Hungary has reaalaed eMa,ajor increase in Intellectual ferment there la probably inevitable, and tale. In turn, could sorely tax the patience and the resources of the Kadsr regime. Par to the south, Bulgaria too has been quiet; neither the party nor the army (which Is politically potent) is completely laumne to movements elsewhere, and the people are not above venting their displeasureepreaalve regimeackward standard of life.

Finally, even tba little world of Walter Ulbricht could ba shaken by unsettling developments In Eastern Europe, especially in Poland and Czechoslovakia. There are already signs that Penkow is greatly disturbed by events in Czechoslovakia, largely perhaps because of what they smy portend for Ctecb-veat German relations but surely also because It is aware that they areontagious character. Eaat Germany bad its own share of "revisionists"

Schirdevan, etc.)Its own brand of trouble with the Sovieta. And if, la Bast Germany, tba Soviets bar* the wherewithal to contain or control events, they also occupy sn especially conspicuous snd seneltire position, there and in Berlin ss veil.

27. We can, and do, estimate, of course, that tba odds ere against explosions In Eastern Europe this rear. People with gun* are still stronger than people without. An explosion, furtheraore, would probably have tragic consequences and few East European* are anxious to provoke the re-entry of Soviet force*. More likely than explosions, In, for example, Poland, are less dramaticdifficulties: sporadic rioting, intellectual protest,repressions, seas changes st the top,iminution (butreakdown) of party authority. More likely la Chechoslovakia la non-violent political turmoil attended by impressive progress toward limited goals of deaoeratl ration.

26. Eventually, in the best of all plausible worlds, Eastern Europe will have avoided Soviet intervention and be well on the wayew snd tore premising future. laountry such a* Csechoslovakla nowhance, fully recognised in Prague, to set itselfath denied to it in the pest,eaningful

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degree of liberty et hose end sovereignty Abroad andlace ofown In Europe, sonewbere between Eaet and beat. The USSR will surely at tines seek to curb and coots in. It nay resort to econonlc sanctions, bluster and threat, political But the iaatruaeata of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe are not what they once were and are unlikely In the long tern to be effective. Unleaa it la willing to use military force, the USSR, sooner or later, will probably have little choice but to accomodate itself to ebonf great significance in Eastern Europe.



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