STABILITY OF EAST GERMANY IN THE BERLIN CRISIS

Created: 8/15/1961

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STABILITY OF EAST GERMANY IN THE BERLIN CRISIS

THE PROBLEM

To estimate the ability of the East German regime: (a) to maintain domestic order and stability in the period of tension, and possible later very much sharpened crisis, arising out of the Berlin problem, and (b) to employ its military forces against Western forces under the same circumstances.

SCOPE NOTE

Berlin crisis is clearly imposing heavy strain on the East German politicalOur purpose in this paper is to examine the political effect on thatof an intensification of circumstances already present in the situation. These are: (a) the East Germans have, with the decree ofugust, set up tight controls along the borders of West Berlin; (b) the USSR appears to be moving definitely toward unilateral action on the Berlin problem; (c) the US is continuing tofirmness, is taking preparatorymeasures, and is engaging in apolitical campaign against Soviet and East German contentions regarding Germany; and (d) in consequence an atmosphere of sharp crisis is developing which is understood to carry serious risk of war.

THE ESTIMATE

of Stability and Instability in East Germany

fter moreecade of existence, the "German Democratic Republic" has serious continuing problems of popular support. It has failed to overcome anti-Soviet and anti-Communist sentiments and to engage the national feelings of the population. It has had to suffer constant comparison withmore attractive and successfulstate and to combat the Westernwhich radiates from West Berlin.subsistence has long ceased toroblem, the East German consumer stillnumerous spot shortages andinefficiencies. The East German must endure encroachments upon hisliberties and his privacy as the regime proceeds with its campaign to politicize all aspects of social life. The ruling Socialist

Unity Party (SED) and its leader. Walter Ulbricht. continue to be viewed withby the vast majority of the people.

2 Despite these formidable obstacles, thefor the single episode3 -succeeded in maintaining essential stability. Chief among the sources of stability is the political and militaryof the USSR, which is givenby the presence oftroops in East Germany. Memory of the Soviet readiness to use its military power to suppress the popular uprising in East Oermany itselfnd in Hungary inthe inability of the West tothisa powerful damper on any inclination to express disaffection by open action. The East German securityhas increased in effectiveness3 andurther deterrent Moreover, there are many who either have builtested interest In the present order or have such roots in the soil and ties to home that they are willing to accommodate themselves For those who could not make thisflight to the West hasubstitute for antiregime activity and was. untilugust, relatively easy.

pen expressions of discontent by therecently have become more frequent Last year's sudden collectivization was deeply resented, and continuing pressure to consolidate the new collective farm system is provoking many expressions of outspoken hostility in the countryside. Restlessness now approaches unrest. But despitethreats to leave collectives, and some incendiarism and slaughtering ofthe regime shows no sign of reversing its agricultural policies. In general, wethat while the peasantry will remain sullen. Its reactions will probably not exceed the bounds of disconnected local incidents, in part because the rural environment does not favor mass actions of resistance.

The regime has accorded the industrialavored role because theyemlorganiied force concentrated in urban arras and therefore are the group which could most easily generate general unrest In the population. By combining coercion and Incentives the regime has over the years gained some degree of cooperation from the workers. In recent months, theof highly unpopular labor regulations has aroused the open expression ofBut by and large we believe thatof the workers has notoint atirect challenge to the regime Is Imminent.

Discontent among the Intellectuals,and professionals is widespread, but leads mainly to the Individual solutions of careerLsm. flight, or aecomjnodatJon. In the case of doctors and dentists, engineers, teachers, and others with key skills much needed by the regime, special dispensations given to offset dissatisfaction have met with little success. Regime efforts to capture the loyalty of youth have been almost entirely fruitless, and young people. Including many with professional training, haveelatively high proportion of the refugee flow.

Over recent weeks the situation in East Germany has been markedradualof tension in thehortage of consumer goods has beenby the effects of last year's sudden agricultural collectivization; economic plans have had to be scaled down; and regimeon economic matters have dampened popular expectations that living conditions would soon Improve. Even more significant have been the politicalaroused by the Berlin crisis, and by increasing concern that the escape hatch provided by West Berlin would be closed. The outflow of refugees again rose rapidly Ineachingne of the highest months on record. Finally, with the decree ofugust, the possibility of flight has been drastically curtailed. On the whole, we still believe that atajor eruption is unlikely. However, the chances of local disturbances are rising, and under certain circumstances these could develop Into general

Future Possibilities for Antireglme Action

In circumstances ol greatly heightened tension, the people of East Germany will be subjected to still greater strains On the one hand, the appearance of an imminent East-West showdown might have the effect of persuading the East Germans that, with the outcome soon to be determined by the great powers, their best course was to await this result and meanwhile to avoid exposing themselves by overt antireglme actions Against this consideration. It must bethat in previousGermanyungary inbuildup of hopes and fears led to popular actions whi=h. by sober calculation, could only be regarded as irrational.

It will always be possible thatincidents of violence, arising perhaps out of some very' minor and local dispute, may spread Into an outbreak ofextent and magnitude. Suchare essentially unpredictable They would become more likely if there were any sudden appearance, in the statements or policies of the regime, of contradictions orwhich suggested to the populace that the SED's confidence in Its control was faltering Moreover, the general Western posture as it appeared to the East Germans would be of critical importance, if thisseemed to suggest that antireglme actions would be materially supported, the more volatile elements of the population would be more inclined to undertake such ictions. On balance, we believe that, barringombination of circumstances,antireglme activities are not likely to exceed passive work slowdowns andlocal demonstrations of Indiscipline and opposition.

If the West attempted to stimulate dis-sldence under conditions of greatlytension, we believe that there wouldesponse. But the scale of It wouldsignificantly upon whether the East Germans believed that the West wasto bringrastic change, or that they were merely being used by the West toropaganda gain and would then be left at the mercies of the Communist authorities. Short of active East-Westwe believe that few East Germans would respond to appeals to engage in risky and violent actions, but some would probably be willing to undertake small-scale sabotage. There would probablyarger response to appeals to undertake passive resistance, such as mass absenteeism, but Its scale wouldupon the popular state of mind at any given moment If passive resistance became widespread, there would also be danger of touching off violence,

long as spontaneous or Westernactions were isolated and on awe believe that the East Oermanforces would be effectivelose check on disaffectionby the secret police and Itsnetwork of informers Thesecurity forces which are alsowere not deemed sufficientlybe used In the front line ofut they have sinceelectively recruited,and well equipped force ofAlert Policeowever, serious disaffection andwithin the East Oermanwould probably occur In the eventwidespread uprising.

Effect of Allied Military Action

the Berlin crisis reached thea Western military force wasto secure the access routes toand clashed with East German andalso with Soviet forces, aelement of Instability would enterSo long as Western actionand ln fact directed to theof assuring access and theto discourage the East Oermansthey would probably not risethe population would probablythe outcome as likely to beand would therefore wish tocommitting itself prematurely.the situation would becould be upset by any one of many pos-

tible developments, or even by mereand false reports.

IS. If Western-Soviet East Oerman fighting should spread into parts of East Oermany well away from the autobahn, this would appear to many as the beginning of theof the country, and the chanceseneral uprising would greatly increase. If there were actual Western appeals for action, there would probablyideThe reliability and effectiveness of the East German security and military forces would decline rapidly in areas where they were not backed up by superior Sovietforces, especially if the military fortunes of theorcesis those of the West seemed in doubt or in Jeopardy.

East Garmon Militaryhe East German Army is one of the best equipped of the Eastern European Satellite armies: its most important deficiency is in heavy artillery. Its sue has remained fairly constant,0 men, organised in four motorized rifle and two tank divisions similar to the most modern Soviet ones. In training exercises, the East Oerman Army has in the last few yearsigh standard. In recent years, an extensive reserve program has been developed, and there are nowrained reserves Mobilization might raise the armyotal ofivisions withinays, though this would require Soviet logistic support and supply of weapons and munitions

he East German Army Is the onlyforce not based on conscription There is some pressure, and consequent resentment, in recruitment, but local SED boards pass on all recruits, and political selectivity gives theomewhat higher loyalty to the regime than that of the populationhole. The loyalty of the officer corps and NCO cadre Is probably higher than that of the enlisted men. We believe that these factors, together with the German tradition of discipline andto military authority, would make theelatively reliable force in roostdespite the widespreadin East Germany.

n the eventajor Allied military effort to secure the access route to Berlin, the Soviets would see considerable politicalin having East German forces oppose the Allied forces, at least at the outset The East Germans would be favoredumber ot local tactical advantages, including aposition. We believe that Inimited action the East Oerman Army would not prove unreliable or unwilling to fight and would initiallyood account of itself.

hile the East German Armyrief containing action. If an extended campaign evolved it wouldSoviet logistical and combat support, particularly air cover. In any case, the Soviet forces would from the outset be deployed to back up the East Germans. They havecombined training exercises, andimited Allied-Soviet nonnuclear war In East Germany, the East German divisions would probably be integrated with Soviet field forces. The performance of the troops inase would probably be determined largely by the circumstances and fortunes of thebut major disaffection or surrenders would probably not occur unless seriouswere suffered by the Soviet forces Their performance might be adversely affected If they had to face West Oerman troops. If. during the course of an Allied conflict in East Germany, the population of the country rose up In serious disorders or revolted, theof the army would become highlyReliability of the East Oerman Army would probably be very tow if Soviet troops had to be used against the Eastpopulation, or if uprisings coincided with Allied successes In the field

he East Oerman Air Force hasighters, ofres and onlyre limited all-weather interceptors These forces are not now deployed for maximum effectiveness against the Western airbut they could operate to harass these corridors. The general air defense system of the country Is under Soviet control, but the East Germansortion of the radar net In the countryf theurface-to-air

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