PROBABLE SOVIET COURSES OF ACTION REGARDING BERLIN AND GERMANY (SNIE 100-2-59)

Created: 2/24/1959

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PROBABLE SOVIET COURSES OF ACTION REGARDING BERLIN AND GERMANY1

THE PROBLEM

To estimate Soviet objectives and tactics with respect to negotiation overand Germany, the likelihood of Soviet turnover of access controls to the East German regime, and Bloc reactions to certain Western responses to this action.

THE ESTIMATE

SOVIEf OBJECTIVES AND TACTICS

IN NEGOTIATIONc conUnue to believe that Moscow has raised the Berlin issue at this time becauseariety of related factors, some bearing on the consolidation of the Communistin Eastern Europe, others on weakening Uie Western Alliance. Specifically, we believe that Soviet objectives include the reduction and eventual elimination of the disruptivewhich West Berlin and the presence there of Western troops exerts on the East German regimehe raising of theand international prestige of thatthe fostering of discord among the NATO Allies, the limitation of West German armament and the preventionestnuclear capability, an early summit meeting, and the eventual neuUalization of West Germany as an effective member of thc Western Alliance. Whatever may be the or-

Thla esUmate was prepared In responseeries of Questions posed by the Department of State and thereforepecializedto. "Soviet Objectives In the Berlin2

der of priority among these objectives, it is clear Uiat the Soviet leaders have nowthemselves on the Issue of Berlin in an unprecedented manner.

s their repeated statements imply, the Soviet leaders probablyenuinein negotiating with the West on thc subject of Berlin, and indeedjm thc broader German problem. Their attitude reflects the high confidence they have in theirposition. While the Soviets wish to avoid general war, they almost certainly consider Soviet advances in nuclear capabilities as having brought about such an improvement in Soviet miliiary strength that the West will hesitate increasingly before taking anyinvolving substantia', risk of general war. The Soviets probably also hope that they can play upon differences of view among the Western Powers as to the extent of the risk that should be assumed ln regard to Berlin. Tohoice between actions risking war and actions tending to erode the Western position in Berlin must therefore be likely, in Soviet eyes, to make it more difficult for the Western Allies tonited front.

Furthermore, thc Soviet leaders almost certainly view the Western position in Berlin itself as overextended- They see West Berlinemote enclave within Bloc territory, thc supply of whose civilian population Issubject to East German controls, and they view the Western garrisons as token forces whose right of land access is notdefined in any legal or politicalThe Soviets probably believe that thc facts of the access situation are such that, in the eventurnover, the Allies would be obliged to acquiesce, to resortarrison airlift, or to Initiate the use of force.

While we believe, as stated above, that the Soviets have high confidence in theposition and their military posture in the Berlin situation, we also believe that thewish to avoid serious risk of general war. Hence, they will consider their military strength primarilyactor Increasing the likelihood of their obtaining advantages by political means,y negotiation. The Soviets will, in our opinion, continue to take an intransigent position and to believe that they can achieve important gains without making significant concessions.we believe that they would prefer to avoid an actual confrontation of forces over thc Issue of access to Berlin lest events get out of control. On the other hand, they view the risk involved in confrontation as at least equally alarming to the Western side, and they will, until late in the game, play upon this risk, and the Western fear of it,rincipal counter in thetr maneuvering.

The Soviets probably also feel thategotiated settlement they could reduce some of the disadvantages to the Bloc which are Inherent in the present situation. Any agrcemcnL which prejudiced the Western position in West Berlin and which tended to confirm the division of Germany and Europe would discourage the forces of discontent in the GDR and elsewhere in Eastern Europe and impart greater stability to thc satellite regimes. Quite apart from the substance of any agreement that might be reached, the mere participation of thc East Germans in

any negotiations would enhance thc status of the Pankow regime. An agreement which forbade nuclear arms to West Germany would lessen the Soviet fear of the Impact of aGermany, particularly on the Soviet position in Eastern Europe.

Finally it is possible, though on thc whole we do not believe it likely, that the Soviet initiative on the Berlin issueesire to explore the possibilities of changing the situation in Central Europe on the basis of concessions on both sides. The Soviets have not offered concessions from their previous positions on Eastern Europe, Germanor Berlin and prior to negotiations they would not be likely to indicate what concessions they might make. Their tactics in any negotiations onroad scale would vary according to thc moves andof the West.

Tn negotiating on Berlin, the Soviets would press for acceptance of their "free city"and might introduce modifications in this scheme In the hope of securing Western acceptance for It. The minimum terms on which the Kremlin would be willing to call off the planned transfer of access controls to the GDR would probably be theof official dealings between the GDR and the West, together with restrictions on propaganda and intelligence activities ln West Berlin, and the flow of refugees through that city. The Soviets would estimate that any modification in Berlin's status and any other arrangements tending to imply Western recognition of the GDR would provide afor further attacks upon thc Western position in Berlinital step toward achieving their larger objectives in Germany.

In negotiations on the broader German problem, thc proposaleace treatyivided Germany would form the core of the Soviet position. In addition, the Soviets might propose that thc Four Powers endorse direct negotiationshe "twoon the Communist-"confederation" plan. While Moscow probably would notto gain Western acceptance of these pro-

posals. they would hope in negotiations to push the West in this direction with thcview ot extracting some concessions which would enhance Uie Internationalof the GDR Moreover, Uiey wouldhope to engage the West in seriouson certain features of the peace treaty proposal, in particular the establishmentuclear-free zone and Uie limitation of forces in Germany. But whatever theirthe Soviets would almost certainly continue to adhere to certain key positions. They would seek Uie substance of theregarding Berlin mentioned above. In addition, Uie Soviets would almost certainly maintain their long-standing position Uiat thc problem of German reunification can only be solved by the "twohat this problem cannot be negotiated by the four former occupying powers, and that, at most. Four Power talks should seek to facilitate negotiations between the "twohey would insist that free elections on the territory of the GDR were not an acceptable means ofnified German state andeunited Germany would not be free to Join NATO..

the Soviets have formallylinking of Berlin and Germany withof European security, Uieyenteregotiation,were given parity ofwould be prepared to discussand arms limitation, particularlynuclear and missile fields. To Uiesuch discussion touched on Berlinthey would probably insist onof the conditions mentioned Inparagraphs, and on theof the "two Germanies" in someform.

the scope of thethe Western Powers were willingit is likely Uiat the Sovietssome stage attempt to make theirmore attractive by modifying somepositions they have heretoforeexample, they might oner tofree

city" of West Berlin under UKThey might agree to UN guarantee of the access routes, lt is within. Uie realm ot possibility that they might agree to thcof East Berlin in Uie "free city"in some fashion, but wc believe this to be extremely unlikely.

here will hang over all negotiations the threat that control of Uie access to West Berlin will be handed over to the Eastif some agreement satisfactory tois not reached. Wc do not believeurnover will be undertaken prior toay, or that it would take placeater date if negotiations were under way orunless the Soviets came to believe that progress through negotiation was not possible. Thc Kremlin probably conceives of itself as able to confront Uie Western Powers with an unpleasant but Inescapableeither to agree to or acquiesce In changes in the present situation which would lead to an erosion of Uie Western position In Berlin and West Germany, or to face substantial risk of war In order to maintain what would appear to the public at large as minorarrangements at the frontiers

II. IHE QUESTION OF TURNOVER

he question arises ot whether, if talks fail to materialize or veertalemate or collapse, there exist any means by which the Western Powers could deter thc Soviet Union from turning over access controls, or persuade it to make Uie turnover In form but not in fact. It ls our view that iffailed to produce results acceptable to the USSR,onviction Uiat Uie West intended to use force would cause thc Soviets to reconsider turning over access contiols to the Eastrincipal factor would be the Soviet assessment of Western,US, intentions. The Soviets mightthat the West would use force to probe their intentions, but be uncertain as to how far Uie West would go in Uie use of force. Or they might believe that the West would use whatever force proved necessary, even If such use of force led to general war.

In the event that thc Soviets werethat the West Intended to use force to probe Soviet intentions, but wereas to how far thc West would go ln the use of force, we believe that the odds are about even that the USSR would not turn over to thc GDR complete control of land, water, and air access ton the one hand, they would fear that local clashes would lead to such an Involvement ofand amotions that thc situation could get out of control and result in grave risk of general war. On the other hand, they would realize Lhat they had local militaryThey would doubt that Western leaders would press the use of force to the point of seriously risking general war. Moreover, it would be difficult to convince Moscow that the Allied governments were united in their determination to use any force, or that they had the support of Western public opinion.

Thc USSR would almost certainly back awayull turnover of access controls if it were convinced that the Western Powers were determined to use whatever degree of force was necessary to maintain access to Berlin free of GDR controls, even If such use of force led to general war. But it would be most difficuli to convince thc SovietUiat this was so. In the absence of manifest preparations for war on an extended scale they would doubt the intent of Western leaders lo take such risks. Even In the face of specific warnings und militarythe Soviets would probably remainof the ability of Western leaders lopublic support for resort to general war, particularly if the Soviets could make the issue appear to be merely one of whetheror East German authorities were to check Allied credentials al tlic access points.

f Utey decided tohowdown over lhe question of access controls, Lhe Soviet leaders would still seek lo avoid theof retreat. They might withdraw their garrisons and officials from East Berlin amid great fanfare without relinquishing theirover Lhe access routes lo West Berlin. Or, while making formal announce-

ment of Uie turnover, they might In factSoviel personnel al the check points to deal with Western military movements.

thc Soviets turned over all accessthey would probably seek to headabrupt Western reaction by priorthai free access to West Berlinmaintained by the GDR and mightthat the East Germans would notwith Allied military movementsrefusal of convoy commanders tocredentials.

III. SOVIET REACTIONS TO VARIOUS WESTERN COURSES Of ACTION

Western Acquiescence

Should lhc Allies elect to acquiesce In the turnover of controls, the East Germanswould probably be correct and unpro-vocattvc In Lhe operaUon of tbe checkpoints. This would be true whether or not the West asserted the "agent" theory of continuingresponsibility for free access.

However, once the Western Powers were firmly committed to dealing with the East Germans on the access Issue. Bloc authorities would make political capital of that fact Particularly for the benefit of the Westthey would stress the contention that Western acquiescence constituted dc facto recognition of thc East German regime and acceptance of the "Iwo Germaaies" concept. Sooner or later, perhaps In connection with the tentn anniversary of the GDRropaganda pressures would probably be augmented by harassing moves aimed al Inducing the withdrawal of Western garrisons, expanding Lhe area of dealings with the GDR, and at persuading the West Berlinets that their safety and livelihoodon reaching an understanding with Uie GUi: Such harassment might be minor at first, bul in due course the Western Powers would be forced to choose between accepting thc progressive erosion of their position in Berlin ortrong stand on the basisci;ul position weaker than it is now.

5

Garrison Airlift

Should the Western Powers decide, after the turnover had taken place, to supply their small garrisons entirely by air, Soviet and East German authorities would probably not Initially interfere with force. Given the small tonnagesarrison airlift couldcertainly be carried out by visual flight methods and the Communists would beto effectively hamper Western military air traffic by jamming controls and Extensive physical harassment of such an airlift in its early stages probably would be considered politically inadvisable, and the Communists would insteadon making the Western Powers appear ridiculous for using an expensive airliftto avoid dealing with GDR officials. The Communists would sooner or later probably commence direct physical harassment of the garrison airlift. Such harassment mightflying their own aircraft in the corridors, firing antiaircraft weapons in the corridors, attempting to force down aircraft alleged to be engaged in intelligence activities, and the Uke.

It is also likely that thc Soviets would formally withdraw the guarantee of safety of Western civilian flights through thc airto Berlin. They would justify this act on the ground that sovereignty over these corridors resided in the GDR In Its turn Pankow could refuse to assume responsibility for the safety of these flights unless thePowers accepted an East Germanin the Berlin Air Safety Center. Without adequate guarantees thc Western airlines would probably refuse to fly to Berlin and if the air connection to Berlin, including the evacuation of refugees, were to bewestern military aviation would have to assume this responsibility.

f these pressures failed to induce the West to negotiate on Berlin, thc Soviets would probably undertake some harassment of civilian surface access from the West to West Berlin. By such means as raising tolls and introducing arbitrary procedures they could make it difficult for the West Berlin economy

to function. They would probably expect that such low key tactics would in timegrowing pressure In West Berlin and West Germany for an accommodation. They would probably not initiallyotal blockade for fear of the impact on worldopinion.

Economic Sanctions

n embargo of all trade between the NATO Powers and the GDR would create an important dislocation both of the Easteconomy and of East German-Bloc trade. The total commodity trade between the GDR and thc NATO countries ls on the order0ear, about two-thirds of which is between West Germany and the GDR. This trade Is aboutercent of thc GDR's total commodity trade. Thiswould be greater if the NATO countries refused to charter ships to the Bloc and if the use ol water routes through Westto East Germany were denied.the application of sanctions would lead eitheronsiderable increase inin East Germanyeneral failure of the GDR to meet Its exportto the Bloc, oroviet crash aid program in behalf of thc GDR together with some local disorganization of Bloc production and trade.

conomic sanctions to be effective would have to be applied by thcountries principally involved, particularly West Sanctions would be considerably weakened if other free world countries filled thc gap or if free world trade with the GDR were rerouted through other Bloc countries. It is doubtful that unity of action among all the countries concerned could be achieved. As indicated, economic sanctions wouldthe GDR and the Bloc. We do nothowever, that the threat of suchalone would prevent the Soviets from proceeding with turnover, or that theirafter turnover would cause theto reverse themselves. They could be an important factor if associated with other means Of pressure.

The Uio of Force to Maintain Access1

f, alter the Soviets had turned overcontrols, they were actually confrontedestern effort to maintain road access to Berlin by force. Soviet and East German authorities would almost certainly feelto react vigorously. The nature of the reacUon would doubtless depend, to someon the way the situaUon had developed by the Ume thc Issue was faced.eneral proposition, however, we believe thatonvoy escortedoken force, the Soviets, probably through Uie use of East Germans, would almost certainly try to bar its passage by means short of activey road obstructions,how of force, etc. If. however, these means

'The AsalaUnt Chief of SUff, Intelligence, USAF, believes lhal Ihc reasoning presentednda valid only insofar as the Soviets are convinced lhat the acUons they take will not gravely risk general war. Hebelieves that the Soviets will estimate that any active combat between Western and Soviet or ODR forces will gravely tisk general war; and. therefore, they will not permit theto develop to the point where aeUve armed combat occurs.

In sappocl of UiU. he eUrs lhe following from. "Main Trends ln Soviel CapabUlUes and. we believe that Uie Sonets would seek to prevent any crisis from Ceveloplna Inay as to leave themselveshoice betweeneriousand taking action which would subsUnU-aily increase the likelihood of general war" (Paragraph IDS.

In order to establish lhe perspeeUve ot the above, the Assistant Chief of SUIT. Intelligence. USAF, would Introducendead-in paraeraph aubslanUally as

"As we have nald Inbove, thc Soviets would be skeptical of Western Inten-Uon* to use force or of Western ability to obUin public supporteport to general war.wc believe that the Soviets, .realising Uie risk of general war. would be extremely unlikely to allow Ihe situation to develop where aeUve combat between Western and Soviet oc GDR forces was on the verge of becoming an actuality. Rather we believe that they wouldeverse before they would run lhe grave risk whleh could mult from actual armed engagement.ndelow discuss the situation under whleh Uie Sonets have decided to accept UiU grave risk."

were not successful wc believe they wouldto active combat. It is conceivable,that Bloc authorities would allow one or more such convoys to get through while an effort was made loigh level

eavily armed and sizable task force had entered the ODR, the East Germans and Soviets would probably first demand thewithdrawal of the force and asettlement. But if this demand were not compiled with, we believe the Soviets would commit Uie forces they considered necessary to defeat and drive.out the Allied unitsinimum of time. Tho Communist leaders would probably believe it Imperative toeffectively Uie Inviolability of Bloc territory because of Uie danger that even lim'tcd and temporary Western success on East German soil might lead to defections among GDR troops, or to widespread civil disturbances in the GDR and elsewhere In Eastern Europe, not to mention the blow dealt by such successes to Soviet prestigethe world. The Soviet leaders would thus have strong incentives to defeat Uie Western effort and they undoubtedly would possess high confidence that they could do so with locally available Soviet forces- They would recognize Uiat engagementestern task force would involve substantial risk of widened hostilities, but they would probably not have allowed thc situation to get io this point if they had been convinced thaMt would result In general war.

Throughout any military crisis over ground access to Berlin, particularly if aof forces was Imminent or hadthe USSR would almost certainlyan energetic diplomatic and propaganda offensive designed to limit the area andof the conllict and to bringegotiated settlement If it could notettlement, the USSR might end thc crisisanner involving some loss of face on its part, lest matters gel out of hand, but the greater likelihood Is that It would take all necessary action to force the withdrawal of any Weslern forces which had entered the GDR. In these circumstances, there would be great danger of an expansion of lhe conflict.

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