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organization which use revolutionary forces, our methods coincide with the interests of our cause. [...]
(Source: Central State Archive (CDA), fond 1-B, opis 58, a. e. 4, 1. 96-99. Obtained by Jordan Baev. ]
Bulgarian party chief and prime minister.
2 Member of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP).
Member of Politburo CC BCP, First Deputy Prime Minister. * In 2-6 April 1956, a Plenum of the CC BCP removed former pro-Stalinist leader Chervenkov and strengthened Živkov's own position in the Party leadership.
Memorandum of Conversastion between Bulgarian foreign Minister P. Mladenov and Polish ambassador VI.
Naperaj, 6 October 1981
nothing. Obviously, one could not be fully open in front of the Czechoslovak comrades, but the situation is extremely grave.
During the sessions of the Political (Consultative) Committee of the Warsaw Pact (in Sofia), we decided to share with our Soviet comrades our anxiety over the events in Czechoslovakia. I had a special meeting with Comrade [Leonid I.] Brezhnev and Comrade (Alexei] Kosygin at which I expressed our concern with the situation, pointing out that we must do all we can, including taking even the ultimate risk, but we cannot permit counterrevolution to go into full swing in Czechoslovakia and to loose that country as a consequence. What is Czechoslovakia's significance? Czechoslovakia is in the middle of the socialist bloc; it is a state of relatively great importance in the socialist system, both politically and economically. We categorically declared to Comrade Brezhnev and Comrade Kosygin that we were prepared to mobilize our armies. We should act even with our cause at stake. Events confirm our assessment (of the situation). We are very happy that the Soviet comrades took the initiative of calling the Dresden meeting. Let us hope that it will help. The most recent facts, though, do not show any reversal (of the situation). They have postponed the debate on the program to Monday. We have no information about this program, what its appeal will be what it will aim at, whether it might or might not be a signal to activate the counterrevolution. At the Dresden meeting we were informed that the counterrevolutionaries had prepared a manifesto to the people and would make it public at the right time. Western intelligence services are operating there. As in Poland, Zionism plays an important role there. However, comrades, we should consider another aspect of this matter. The Yugoslav leadership has a part in these events too. They have been trying to use Romania, Poland and Czechoslovakia to create their own coalition within our family. There is no need for us to use the Stalinist methods of the past but we are obligated to take measures to introduce order in Czechoslovakia as well as in Romania. Afterwards we will introduce order in Yugoslavia, too.
VOICES: Right (applause).
TODOR ŽIVKOV: The West will make use of this. We will be criticized but we will strengthen our position in the international Communist movement, we shall turn the correlation of forces in our favor.
What is the line followed by the Yugoslav leadership? Counterrevolutionary, anti-Soviet! What is the line followed by the Romanian leadership? Counterrevolutionary, anti-Soviet! In whose favor is such a political line? Who permits the heads of the Romanian leadership to play with the fate of the Romanian working class, with the interests of our system, which has been struggling for so many years? Who has permitted them that, who has given them such right?! If we allow all this we will bear great responsibility for our cause and fate before our generation. Indeed, we realize that nothing rash should be done but we must act. We are a revolutionary
On October 6th this year the Minister of the Foreign Affairs, P. Mladenov received at his request VI. Naperaj, Polish Ambassador to this country.
1. The Ambassador confirmed that the visit of Stanisław Kania in our country would be held on October 15 as had been agreed so long as no extraordinary events occurred in Poland on that date. Stanisław Kania's flight is to arrive in Sofia at 10:00 a.m. and to fly back to Warsaw between 8 and 9 p.m. Stanisław Kania will be accompanied by 1-2 assistants only and it is possible that the talks will be held téte a téte. [...]
2. [Information regarding the celebration of the 1300th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Bulgarian state on October 29)
3. The Ambassador expressed his view of the situation in Poland. He believed it had become more complicated. Their expectations that the second stage of the Solidarity Congress would change the line of aggressive behavior, adopted during the first stage, after the declaration by the Politburo of the Central Committee and the government of the P[olish] P[eople's] R[epublic), were not justified. The draft program and the resolutions voted, and especially that for referendum on the laws passed by the Sejm regarding self-government and the state enterprises, with the purpose to change them, strained the situation again, as did the negative reaction of the Congress to the decision of the government to increase the prices of cigarettes and tobacco products.
According to Naperaj confrontation is unavoidable. The issue “who gets the better of whom” is now being
resolved. The extremists and the Western saboteurs are further compromise will result in yielding power and the staging new provocations-prisons are broken open, annihilation of the Communists. The counterrevolution will strikes or preparations for strikes are declared, state orders not miss the chance for savage reprisals. Lists of those are boycotted, anti-socialist and anti-Soviet literature, who are to be physically destroyed have probably already pamphlets and leaflets are distributed, the union of the PPR been made up. It is known from experience that with the Soviet Union is under attack, they demonstrate counterrevolution is very much the same everywhere. In openly their aspiration to take over power. Urgent actions Poland it is not any better than it was in Hungary in 1956. If are, therefore, required. The army, the militia and the Party steps for its suppression are not taken now, it might be too activists have been put on the alert, ready for action. It is late later, especially when the newly recruited conscripts quite possible all this might bring about the introduction of enter the army. A delay in delivering a blow (against the martial law. If this point is reached, all public organizations counterrevolution) will result in loss of power and the with the exception of the PUWP, UAP and DP are to be restoration of capitalism. It should be clear that if new banned, and about 20,000 people will be detained.
elections were to be held, anti-socialist forces would take Solidarity might respond with strikes but the situation is
power. different now-Solidarity is no longer as popular as it used Com. Mladenov drew attention to the fact that the to be. A lot of people have realized what position the West's speculations on a Soviet intervention in Poland country has been driven to as a result of the strikes, and were discontinued. The Soviet Union, however, cannot be appeals to go on strike will not again evoke an unanimous indifferent towards the future developments in Poland, and response.
Poland cannot go ahead without Soviet deliveries of petrol, Naperaj underlined that the Party held the key for gas, ores and other raw materials, (in short) without the solving the crisis. He expressed his admiration of the comprehensive Soviet aid. That is why the Polish comrades enormous achievements of our country after the April must undertake the necessary steps for defeating the Plenum of the BCP CC in 1956, resulting from the right counter-revolution themselves, and the sooner it is done, policy of our Party. These achievements can be seen in the less bloodshed there will be. They should not fear industry, agriculture and in the markets. In their country strikes. If strikes are declared they will last a week or two, [Poland), the errors in Party policy brought about the and then will be given up. This is not the worst that could events in 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976. The present critical
be. situation is due to their Party's loss of prestige due to its Comrade Mladenov told Naperaj that Com. Zhivkov inability to draw the right conclusions from those events. will openly express our position on the events in PPR to The enemy now lays all fault at the communists' door. Stanisław Kania. Therefore, the main task now is to strengthen the party and Georgi Georgiev, deputy-chief of the Second its reputation. Discussions were carried out with
Department (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) was present on Communists, members of the Solidarity, and with members the meeting of Solidarity elected to the leading bodies of the PUWP in an attempt to persuade them to differ from the resolutions Sofia, 7 Oct[ober] 1981 of the Gdansk Congress.
Naperaj underlined the difficult market situation. This signature: (illegible) year they produced 2.5 million tons grain more than last year] but the state was able to buy only 50% of the quantity it had bought at the same time last year. The (Source: DA MVNR, Opis 38, A. E. 2192, 1. 180-184. peasants, under the influence of Solidarity, refuse to sell Obtained and translated by Jordan Baev.) meat, grains and other food products to the government, selling them instead on the black market for profit.
According to Naperaj, they are no longer in a position to make any more concessions. If the reactionary forces
Dr. Jordan Baev, a senior fellow at the Institute of Military come to power, they will deal cruelly with the communists.
History and Associate Professor at the University of In his speech delivered in Krakow, Bogdan Lis declared
National and World Economy (Sofia), is the Vice that all communists had to be hanged. Naperaj expected
President of the Bulgarian Association of Military that Stanisław Kania would tell Com. T. Zhivkov about the
History. He is currently on research in the U.S. as a situation in their country in full.
CWIHP Fellow Com. P. Mladenov said that we were very much concerned with the development of the events in PPR. Poland is heading for an extremely difficult time. The issue “who will win” is being contested, the fate of Poland is at stake. This requires urgent and resolute actions. Any
For more Bulgarian documents on the 1968 and 1980/81 crises, visit our website at cwihp.si.edu
“In Case Military Assistance Is Provided To Poland”
” Soviet Preparations for Military Contingencies, August 1980
Introduction and translation by Mark Kramer
he strikes and unrest that engulfed Poland in July and August 1980, culminating in the formation of a
“free, self-governing trade union, Solidarity," sparked great concern among Soviet leaders. On 25 August 1980, the Politburo of the Soviet Communist Party (CPSU) secretly established a special Commission on Poland under the supervision of Mikhail Suslov, a senior member of the CPSU Politburo and Secretariat.' One of the first actions taken by the Suslov Commission (as it was known informally) was the drafting of a one-page memorandum and a Politburo resolution that authorized the Soviet defense ministry to prepare for the mobilization of “up to 100,000 military reservists and 15,000 vehicles, (which) would have to be requisitioned from the national economy." The rationale for this step, according to the Commission, was to ensure that a large “group of (Soviet] forces" would be at “full combat readiness ... in case military assistance is provided to the Polish People's Republic."
The Suslov Commission's memorandum and the draft Politburo resolution were given the classification of “Top Secret/Special Dossier," which meant that the documents later on were stored in a highly secure part of the Politburo Archive. (In 1991 the Politburo Archive was transferred to the newly-formed Presidential Archive.) A photocopy of the Commission's memorandum was obtained in 1993 by the late Russian military historian Dmitrii Volkogonov, whose family generously provided me with a copy. Unfortunately, the draft resolution was not included with the photocopy. If the draft resolution merely affirmed the content of the memorandum, the omission of it is not significant. But it is possible that the resolution, which evidently was two pages long, also provided a more specific timetable for the second stage of the mobilization. Although the memorandum is extremely interesting in itself, one can only hope that the Russian Presidential Archive (which has full jurisdiction over its own holdings) will agree to release the draft resolution.
A sizable number of words and phrases in the translation are underlined. The underlining corresponds to blank portions of the typewritten text that were filled in by hand in the original document. This manner of composition was a standard practice used by Soviet leaders when they were dealing with highly classified and delicate matters. In some cases, the leaders themselves wrote out the documents (often in nearly illegible handwriting), but in other cases they relied on senior policy advisers or clerical staff. The handwriting on this memorandum appears to have been done by a clerical aide, who wrote neatly and clearly.
The Commission's memorandum was signed by Suslov and four other senior members of the body: the Soviet foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko; the head of the KGB, Yurii Andropov; the Soviet defense minister, Marshal Dmitrii Ustinov; and the head of the General Department of the CPSU Central Committee, Konstantin Chernenko. All were full members of the CPSU Politburo. Although only Suslov and Chernenko belonged to both the Politburo and the Secretariat, the other three wielded nearly as great authority, especially on questions of foreign policy and national security. The five men together constituted a core decision-making group (a sub-group of the Politburo) throughout the Polish crisis. The appearance of their signatures on this memorandum, and the special classification it was given, reflect the extraordinary importance attached to the document.
Even before this operational directive was declassified, there was abundant evidence that the Soviet Union made extensive preparations and drafted elaborate plans for military intervention in Poland in 1980-81. U.S. intelligence sources, both technical and human, picked up an enormous amount at the time about these preparations. (Most of that intelligence, unfortunately, is still classified, but some fascinating items have been released through Freedom of Information Act requests and first-hand accounts by retired U.S. and Polish officials.) Some aspects of Soviet preparations were conveyed in 1980-81 by U.S. officials to Western journalists covering the Polish crisis. Among topics widely reported in the Western press were the establishment of an integrated Warsaw Pact communications network, joint exercises by Soviet and East European troops, and practice landings by Soviet military units on the Lithuanian and Polish coasts. All these measures would have been of great use if Soviet troops had been called into action.
Declassified East-bloc documents and new first-hand accounts by former Soviet and East European officials have confirmed that extensive planning for military operations in Poland took place and that these plans were thoroughly tested. Army-General Anatolii Gribkov, the first deputy commander-in-chief of the Warsaw Pact's Joint Armed Forces from 1976 to 1988, who was deeply involved in Soviet military planning vis-a-vis Poland, wrote in 1992:
Was there a viable plan to send allied troops into Poland? Yes, there was such a plan. What is more, reconnaissance of entry routes and of concentration points for allied forces was carried out with the active participation of Polish officials. ... Recently, the view has been put forth that if martial law had not
been introduced in Poland on 13 December 1981, allied troops would have entered Poland. Let me emphasize that there were indeed such plans, and the Polish state and military leadership knew about them. But there was not, and could not have been, any final decision on whether to send in troops ...9
that Soviet leaders were preparing to send troops to Poland in the very near term. Presumably, this would have been a limited operation to help the Polish authorities crush the strikes and impose martial law. The most logical timing would have been at the end of August 1980, before the Polish government had signed any agreements with the Inter-Factory Strike Committee.
It is not yet known for certain whether this option was under serious consideration in Moscow on 28 August. Soviet Politburo transcripts from the final week of August 1980 are still classified. Despite this limitation, enough other evidence is available to suggest that Soviet leaders might indeed have been contemplating a limited military intervention. U.S. intelligence sources at the time picked up evidence that the Soviet Army was mobilizing three tank divisions and one motorized rifle division in the western USSR.' That in itself would not necessarily imply an intention to use the mobilized forces, but there is no doubt that by 28 August the Soviet Politburo was alarmed by the growing strength of the workers' movement in Poland. After refraining from public criticism in July and the first few weeks of August, the Soviet media on 27 August began denouncing the “subversive actions" of “anti-socialist forces” in Poland." That same day, the Soviet ambassador in Poland, Boris Aristov, secretly delivered a stern letter of warning from the CPSU Politburo to the then-First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP), Edward Gierek." The letter demanded tougher action to quell the unrest. Gierek, for his part, had been making overtures to Soviet leaders since mid-August about the possibility of sending Soviet troops to Poland on his behalf.12 Soviet officials had not yet responded directly to Gierek's pleas, but that does not necessarily mean they had rejected the idea outright. Although they may not have wanted to keep Gierek in power, they might have been considering bringing in a hardline successor, such as Stefan Olszowski.
Another factor that could have induced Soviet leaders to contemplate the prospect of military intervention in Poland was a meeting of the PUWP Politburo that was due to take place the following day, on 29 August. The session was being convened to decide whether to sign the agreements with Solidarity or, instead, to introduce martial law. A special task force, known as Lato-80 (Summer 80), had been set up at the Polish internal affairs ministry in mid-August 1980 to prepare for a sweeping crackdown.13 The head of the task force, General Bogusław Stachura, a deputy minister of internal affairs, was ready to assure the PUWP Politburo on 29 August that his troops would be able to “exterminate the counterrevolutionary nest in Gdańsk" if the PUWP leadership gave him the go-ahead.14 Soviet leaders clearly were aware of both Lato-80 and the forthcoming PUWP Politburo meeting, and they may have wanted to be ready to help out.
An intervention by the four mobilized Soviet divisions, perhaps supplemented by a Soviet airborne division and units from the USSR's Northern Group of Forces, would
Gribkov would have had no incentive to acknowledge the existence of these plans unless his motivation was simply to tell the truth. As a former high-ranking Soviet military officer who takes great pride in his many years of service, Gribkov might have been expected to deny that any plans for a Soviet invasion of Poland were ever drafted. His willingness to admit that full-fledged plans did exist lends a great deal of credibility to his account. Moreover, his remarks are borne out by a large number of newly declassified documents, including East German and Warsaw Pact maps, military charts, and mobilization orders that show entry routes into Poland and the specific allied units that were slated to take part in joint military operations. Even though a large number of crucial items in the former East-bloc archives (especially the Russian archives) are still off-limits, all evidence to date fully corroborates what Gribkov said.
The release of the Suslov Commission's memorandum not only adds to, but helps clarify what has already been known about Soviet and Warsaw Pact military planning in 1980-81. Several points are worth highlighting
First, the date of the memorandum, 28 August 1980, is significant. Just three days after the Suslov Commission was formed on 25 August, the five senior members of that body were seeking to authorize extensive military preparations in case military assistance is provided to Poland." This suggests that military contingencies were taken very seriously by the CPSU Politburo, and that Soviet leaders were not just bluffing when they asked Polish leaders several times in 1980-81 whether it would help matters if Soviet and allied troops entered Poland to help impose martial law. (On each occasion when the two Polish leaders, Stanisław Kania and Wojciech Jaruzelski, were asked about “fraternal assistance,” they warned Soviet officials that the introduction of Soviet troops into Poland to help implement martial law would exacerbate the situation and lead to a "catastrophe." They insisted that if they were given more time to devise appropriate arrangements, they would be able to handle the situation on their own. New evidence suggests that Jaruzelski may have sharply changed his view of this matter in the final few days before martial law, but there is little doubt that earlier in the crisis, he, like Kania, had cautioned strongly against the entry of Warsaw Pact forces.8)
Second, the directive stipulates that the Soviet defense ministry should be able to bring the initial four divisions up to full combat strength by 6:00 p.m. on 29 August, that is, just twenty-four hours after the memorandum was drafted. It is not entirely clear why such haste was deemed necessary. One possible explanation is
have been designed to prop up Gierek or, more likely, to replace him with a more credible hardliner who would forcibly suppress the nascent Solidarity movement. The intervention thus would have been similar to the Soviet army's limited incursion into Hungary on 24 October 1956, which came in response to an urgent request from the Hungarian leader, Erno Gero.'S The intervention on 24 October 1956 was intended to help Gero impose a crackdown and put an end to the violent unrest that began the previous day. As it turned out, the entry of Soviet troops into Hungary, far from improving the situation, caused a sharp escalation of tension and violence. A fullscale revolution ensued, and the Soviet Union had to send a much larger contingent of troops to Hungary to crush the rebellion.
It is impossible to know whether anything comparable would have happened in Poland if the PUWP Politburo had decided on 29 August 1980 to pursue a crackdown. A few PUWP hardliners, such as Władysław Kruczek, did want to impose martial law, but a substantial majority of the Politburo members were convinced that, as Kania put it, it was a “fantasy” to expect that a large-scale crackdown could be carried out at such short notice.16 Hence, the Politburo authorized the Polish government to press ahead with the Gdańsk accords. No one on the Politburo welcomed this decision-Gierek insisted that “under threat of a general strike, we must choose the lesser evil and then find a way to get out of it”—but in the absence of a viable alternative, the Politburo reluctantly concluded that, for the time being, the strikers' demands would have to be fulfilled.17
Third, the Suslov Commission's directive specified two related but separate tasks. The first was the granting of authority to the Soviet defense ministry to mobilize “up to 25,000 military reservists and 6,000 vehicles" to flesh out three tank divisions and one motorized rifle division in the Belorussian, Baltic, and Transcarpathian Military Districts. As mentioned above, this task was carried out right away. The four divisions in question were all mobilized within a day or two, but they were not intended to remain that way indefinitely. Soon after the Soviet Politburo decided in late August 1980 that the time was not yet ripe to “provide military assistance" to Poland, these initial four divisions were brought back to a lower state of readiness and the mobilized reservists were released.
Even so, this did not mean that the first part of the 28 August directive ceased to be relevant. The scenario envisaged in the directive was largely preserved in the subsequent mobilization of Soviet troops in late 1980 and 1981. In the fall of 1980, after the initial four Soviet divisions had been demobilized, the Soviet Union gradually brought three motorized rifle divisions (one each in the Baltic, Belorussian, and Transcarpathian Military Districts) up to full troop strength and put them on high alert. In mid- to late December 1980, U.S. electronic intercepts and satellite reconnaissance were able to confirm that these three divisions could have joined an airborne
division and the two divisions of the Soviet Union's Northern Group of Forces to deal with military contingencies in Poland. 18
The other task specified in the 28 August directive was the granting of authorization for the Soviet defense ministry to "plan for the call-up of as many as 75,000 additional military reservists and 9,000 additional vehicles” (emphasis added). The difference between this task and the initial one is that in this case the authorization covered only planning for a further mobilization, not the mobilization itself. Although this planning was retained (and updated) for future contingencies, there is no evidence that any of the second-stage forces were actually mobilized at any point. In early December 1980, when the clouds covering Poland and the western Soviet Union were still too dense to permit clear satellite reconnaissance, U.S. officials had expected to find that some 15 Soviet tank and motorized divisions near Poland's borders were fully combat-ready. When the clouds abated in the latter half of December 1980 and the satellites were able to home in on Soviet units, U.S. intelligence analysts were surprised to learn that only three Soviet motorized rifle divisions in the western USSR were actually mobilized. There is no evidence that any further Soviet tank or motorized divisions in the USSR were brought up to full combat readiness over the next year. Although the Soviet defense ministry was authorized to plan and prepare for further mobilizations (of five to seven divisions), the ministry did not actually go beyond the initial mobilization of four divisions on 28-29 August (which were then soon demobilized) and the gradual mobilization of three motorized rifle divisions in the fall of 1980.
Fourth, the number of reservists to be mobilized for the hypothetical follow-on operation seems on the high side. Soviet tank divisions at full strength numbered some 10,500 troops, and Soviet motorized rifle divisions numbered 12,500. The divisions in the four Groups of Soviet Forces in Eastern Europe were normally maintained at full strength (a level of readiness designated as Category 1), but divisions in the western USSR were maintained at a much lower level of readiness. As of late 1980, roughly one-quarter of the 33 Soviet tank and motorized rifle divisions in the Baltic, Belorussian, and Transcarpathian Military Districts were maintained at 50-75 percent of full strength (Category 2 readiness), and the other threequarters were kept at only around 20 percent of full strength (Category 3).20 The allocation of these units is shown in Table 1. (Other Category 2 divisions, it is worth noting, could have been brought in from elsewhere in the western USSR.) Curiously, even though both types of line divisions were not combat-ready, they were described in Soviet parlance as "constantly ready divisions" (divizii postoyannoi gotovnosti).21
The initial mobilization covered by the Suslov Commission's directive, encompassing three tank divisions and one motorized rifle division, seems just about right in size. This mobilization most likely involved