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In contrast to Ulbricht, Gomułka voiced his full
NATO and the Warsaw Pact that they could live support at the CPSU party congress for Khrushchev's peacefully.” He had also declared that it was in the interest decision to withdraw the December 31 deadline.21 This of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union to prevent the most likely reflected his own concerns about the effects of “spread of national nuclear weapons.” Rusk did not, an economic embargo on Poland. During his stay in however, ask the Soviets for “4-6 weeks" to formulate a Moscow, Gomułka met with Khrushchev and Soviet position, as Khrushchev implied to Gomułka, nor did he Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko to discuss
suggest that the U.S. was prepared to recognize developments since August 13. Gromyko summarized Germany's borders—let alone the inner-German Moscow's talks with the West since mid-August, and demarcation line-de facto or de jure. It was Gromyko, Khrushchev drew his own conclusions. The United States, not Rusk, who kept bringing up in their talks Western Gromyko reported, had voiced a willingness to recognize recognition of the existing borders and of the the borders of Germany de facto and de jure (the border on “sovereignty” of the GDR.22 the Oder-Neisse)” and “the border between the GDR and Although Khrushchev and Gromyko embellished West Germany de facto." U.S. Secretary of State Rusk, Rusk's comments, they were not lying to Gomułka to the Khrushchev added, had suggested that the U.S. might also extent that there were serious differences among the support a non-aggression treaty between the Warsaw Pact Western powers and the FRG regarding European Security and NATO—a staple of Khrushchev's diplomacy-and, and a Berlin settlement. Privately, the U.S. State more importantly, the non-dissemination of nuclear
Department was contemplating broader negotiations with weapons to both German states. Khrushchev justified his the USSR over Berlin—a fact reflected in Rusk's guarded decision to postpone a peace treaty by pointing, on the comments to Gromyko. Specifically, the State one hand, to the potential concessions that could be won Department was considering a more general settlement in by continuing talks with the West and, on the other hand, Central Europe: a four-power declaration (U.S., USSR, to the potential damage that an economic embargo might Great Britain, and France) calling for the establishment of cause to Poland, the GDR, and the other socialist states. mixed commissions between the two German states to He told Gomułka: “The situation is favorable to us... The discuss personal, economic, and cultural exchange; a four USA requested that we not force the issue of a peace power commitment to recognize the existing borders of treaty with Germany, that we wait 4-6 weeks so that it can Germany in any peace settlement (i.e. de facto recognition work out its own position... There will not be a war, but of the Oder-Neisse Line); a non-aggression pact between signing a peace treaty with the GDR might exacerbate the the Warsaw Pact and NATO; a four power declaration on situation... We must continue our game... What will we gain non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to third states; and a and what will we lose by concluding a separate peace reaffirmation by Bonn of its 1954 commitment not to treaty with the GDR [?] We will lose: The Americans, the produce nuclear, chemical, of biological weapons.23 English, the French might declare an economic blockade When Adenauer visited Washington in November 1961, against the USSR and the socialist countries. Regarding Kennedy probed him with regard to all three matters: the USSR, these are empty platitudes, but the other
inter-German commissions; recognition of the existing countries—the GDR, Poland, Hungary and to a lesser frontiers, especially the Oder-Neisse Line; and a renewed extent, Romania-might suffer if they do that. We should West German commitment forswearing weapons of mass wait for 4-6 weeks, like they (the Americans) asked, to destruction. Adenauer was opposed to concessions in all conclude a treaty... We should not pass any resolutions. three areas. A renewed declaration on eapons of mass The game continues, we must keep applying pressure. We destruction would "discriminate" against the FRG; the should coordinate our position with Comrade Ulbricht. We Oder-Neisse Line remained at the very least a bargaining should carry on salami tactics with regard to the rights of chip in any future peace settlement; and inter-German the Western countries... We have to pick our way through, commissions would have to be limited to ad hoc divide them, exploit all the possibilities.”
discussion of technical matters, lest they lead to de facto Based on the U.S. documents declassified to date, recognition of the GDR.24 The divisions within NATO Khrushchev and Gromyko—at best-exaggerated Rusk's between the U.S. and Great Britain, on the one hand, expressed willingness to make concessions. To the
which were willing to discuss matters beyond a Berlin consternation of the West Germans, Rusk had suggested to settlement with the Soviet Union, and France and the Gromyko that the U.S. would be willing to negotiate about FRG, on the other hand, which opposed any linkage issues relating to “European security" as soon as the between Berlin and other issues, seemed to provide an Western powers' right to access to West Berlin were ideal opportunity for Moscow to play the Western allies insured and reaffirmed by the Soviet Union (i.e., the U.S. against each other.25 This explains in part Khrushchev's was unwilling to enter into negotiations with the GDR). optimism—and embellishments—during his talks with The U.S. Secretary of State had mentioned specifically a
Gomułka. reduction of armaments in Central Europe (but no
Although Khrushchev justified his decision to
Gomułka only in terms of the West's alleged willingness to "disengagement”), the establishment of safeguards against surprise attacks, and an exchange of "assurances" between
make concessions and a possible economic embargo
against the socialist bloc, one should not discount the role of other factors in his decision. Moscow's worsening relations with China or a fear of Ulbricht's growing influence might still have played a key role; Khrushchev would not have necessarily informed Gomułka about such extraneous motives.26 The concerns that he expressed about an embargo, which openly contradicted his earlier statements on the subject, were clearly meant to appeal to the Polish leader's own interests and gain his support. Nevertheless, Khrushchev would use a possible embargo as an excuse for avoiding a peace treaty once again, during Ulbricht's visit to Moscow at the end of February 1962.
be against us. One must see that West Berlin is not in Adenauer's hands. On August 13, we achieved the maximum of what was possible (my emphasis). I have the same impression as before that the conclusion of a peace treaty with the GDR need not lead to war. But one must consider the situation realistically. You want to give your signature, and we are supposed to give economically, because one must see the possibility that after the conclusion of a peace treaty, there will be an economic boycott. Adenauer will carry out an economic boycott, and we will have to give [the GDR) everything that is lacking....
The signing of a peace treaty would lead to a normalization of the situation in West Berlin. The main question, however, is not the peace treaty, but a consolidation of the economic situation in the GDR). That is what we have to concentrate on. I say once again with regard to a peace treaty, that I believe there would be no war, but who can guarantee that? What is pushing us to a peace treaty? Nothing. Until August 13, we were racking our brains over how to move forward. Now the borders are closed. One must always proceed from the idea that the conclusion of a peace treaty must serve us, that we will conclude it when we need it.... We support the GDR's measures, but we do not agree that it is absolutely necessary to use the peace treaty as a slogan for the elections to the Volkskammer.
Ulbricht's Visit to Moscow, February 1962
By the time of Ulbricht's visit to Moscow in February 1962, the talks between Gromyko and the U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, Llewellyn S. Thompson, had reached an impasse. The West had quickly retreated on the issue of recognizing Germany's borders—specially the inter-German border—and was focusing first and foremost on guaranteeing access to West Berlin (see documents #34 below). Nevertheless, Khrushchev had clearly decided by this point to abandon a separate peace treaty with the GDR, while Ulbricht still wanted to force the issue.
Ulbricht brought up the issue of a separate peace treaty during his first session with Khrushchev on February 26. The failure to conclude such an agreement, he told Khrushchev, had undermined the authority of the SED and the Soviet Union inside the GDR. “In wide circles of the population,” he said, “the opinion has arisen that the Soviet Union and the GDR have overreached themselves in the struggle for a peace treaty.” Ulbricht pleaded with Khrushchev to conclude a separate peace treaty by the end of the summer. It would assist the SED in the upcoming election campaign to the East German parliament, the Volkskammer, and help restore the party's tarnished image. The conclusion of a peace treaty, he suggested, need not exacerbate relations with the West; the GDR was willing to sign a peace treaty that left open matters relating to transit to West Berlin. If the West proved recalcitrant, the Soviet bloc could still use access to West Berlin as a lever to compel the Western powers' acceptance of the separate agreement.
Khrushchev rejected Ulbricht's plea. Although the Thompson-Gromyko talks were a “step back” from the West's earlier statements, the Warsaw Pact could not afford to exacerbate the situation by signing a separate peace treaty with the GDR—at least for the time being. Khrushchev cited two major reasons. First, there was a possibility of war with the West if the Soviet Union turned over control of the access routes to West Berlin to the GDR. Second, there was the threat of an embargo against the socialist bloc. He explained:
Khrushchev even expressed understanding for Kennedy's position. He openly voiced his concernalready posited by Hope Harrison—about what Ulbricht might do if the Soviet Union granted him control over the access routes to West Berlin.27 "The Thompson-Gromyko talks are a step backwards in comparison to the earlier talks. The USA wants to raise its price. We have said openly that these are no foundations for negotiations. Previously, [U.S. President John F.] Kennedy presented his viewpoint on the borders of Poland and the CSSR [Czechoslovak Socialist Republic). Of course he cannot ratify the German border between the GDR and West Germany. One cannot expect that of him. He is trying to reach an agreement-for example, on an international [border] control. In one interview, he posed the question himself of what one can do and to whom once can turn if, for example, Ulbricht infringes upon the [existing] order regarding access routes to Berlin. To whom can one turn in such a situation?” In case Ulbricht was hoping for assistance from the Chinese, Khrushchev dispelled his illusions. “The Albanians and the Chinese,” he said, “are criticizing us with regard to the peace treaty and West Berlin. What are they doing themselves? (Portuguese colonies in India, Hong Kong, etc.)."
In effect, Khrushchev ordered Ulbricht to give up his campaign for a separate peace treaty and to focus instead on strengthening the GDR's economy, seriously weakened by the crisis over Berlin. The Soviet leader remained committed to granting the GDR more assistance than his planning chief, Alexei Kosygin, thought was wise. (“In
One must see things the way they are. We are disturbing the USA's air traffic (to and from Berlin). It has to defend itself. The imperialist forces will always
response to an objection by Comrade Kosygin," the report his pet project of introducing corn to East European on the February 26 meeting reads, "Comrade Khrushchev agriculture.31 Khrushchev's son-in-law, Alexei Adzhubei, replied that we cannot act like petty traders.")
editor-in-chief of Izvestiya, vocally criticized Ulbricht at a Nevertheless, in contrast to the meeting with Ulbricht in gathering of Soviet-bloc journalists in May 1962. In his November 1960,28 he now gave Kosygin free rein to interview with the East German leader, Adzhubei declared, criticize the GDR's economic policies. Khrushchev Ulbricht had not expressed “a single fresh thought.” He was himself chided Ulbricht for importing potatoes from
still blaming all the GDR's economic difficulties on “militarism Poland—a particularly pointed comment, given Ulbricht's in the FRG." "We got the impression," Adzhubei continued, frequent criticisms of Poland's failure to collectivize
“that Ulbricht is unable to deal with the fundamental agriculture”—and Kosygin noted that the GDR, a former question: how to achieve results in agriculture—they should exporter of sugar, was now importing it. The East Germans, work on it. Phrases cannot replace potatoes, which the GDR Khrushchev and Kosygin argued, were devoting great does not have.' Adzhubei, of course, would make even resources to building modern city centers when they harsher remarks about Ulbricht during his “mission” to Bonn needed to invest more in agriculture. In a final blow, the in July-August 1964.33 The tensions between Ulbricht and Soviets ordered Ulbricht to "activate trade with Bonn to Khrushchev in 1964, the recently-declassified documents the maximum extent" in order to help overcome the GDR's make clear, had their origins in the differences of 1961-62 over economic difficulties. The subtext was clear: neither the the East German economy and a separate peace treaty. GDR nor its allies could economically afford a separate peace treaty. Although the Soviet bloc, Khrushchev told Ulbricht on February 27, would "aggressively pursue" a
Document No. 1 (Excerpt) campaign for a separate peace treaty, “we (the Soviet Transcript of a meeting between the delegations of the Union) will decide at what point to conclude it.” The
PZPR and the SED in Moscow, 2 December 1969 Soviet Union, of course, never found the right moment to conclude such an agreement.
... [Polish Premier Józef] Cyrankiewicz: Earlier you
spoke about closing the border (to West Berlin]; I would Conclusions
like to remind you of how many times the Poles (i.e., the Khrushchev's decision to provoke the Berlin Crisis in Polish communists] proposed that it be closed. November 1958 was the product of economic, as well as
Gomułka: And how much earlier! military-political, miscalculation. The Soviet leader
Ulbricht: We know about this and have not forgotten. overestimated not only the potential of the changing We were always of the same opinion as you. Even then, strategic balance to squeeze concessions out of the West, when something was hurting us—I have in mind the matter but also the economic ability of the GDR and the entire of the open border. Soviet bloc to withstand the economic pressures—both
Gomułka: I would have shut it far earlier. How many potential and real—arising from a prolonged conflict with times I told Khrushchev about it! the West over Berlin and the German question. By 1961,
Ulbricht: We know about that, but Khrushchev East Germany's socialist-bloc allies were no longer willing believed after all that he could conclude a treaty with the to sacrifice their own economic development for the sake of FRG modeled after Rapallo.... the GDR. Even if their fears of a Western economic embargo were not the deciding factor in Khrushchev's (Source: AAN, KC PZPR, p. 110, 1. 16.) decision to renege on a separate peace treaty with the GDR, they did provide him with a useful excuse to justify his decision. The irritation of the GDR's allies—including
Document No. 2 the Soviet Union—with Ulbricht's never-ending economic Rough Notes from a Conversation (Gromyko, demands was quite apparent in 1961-62.
Khrushchev, and Gomulka) on the International The economic weaknesses revealed during the Berlin
Situation, n.d. [October 1961]
Comrade Gromyko: In talks with [U.S. Secretary of plans to reform the Comecon and institute a “socialist State Dean) Rusk, [U.K. Foreign Minister Lord Alec) division of labor”; Gomułka's project for closer economic Home, (U.S. President John F.] Kennedy and [U.K. Prime cooperation within the "northern triangle" of Poland, the Minister Harold) Macmillan, it struck me above all else GDR and Czechoslovakia; and Ulbricht’s “New Economic how they conducted them in a friendly tone, which has not System" for the GDR. Of the three initiatives, only the always been the case. We concluded that they are trying New Economic System would make it to the
to find ways to achieve an understanding on the question implementation stage.30 Conflicts would continue
of Germany and West Berlin. During the exchange of between the GDR and its allies over economic questions. views, every major issue was touched upon. Nevertheless, Khrushchev grew increasingly critical of the GDR's it was stressed in the conversations that this is only a failings in agriculture—in particular, Ulbricht's rejection of preliminary exchange of views before official talks.
From the very beginning, Rusk34 , Macmillan and Kennedy declared that we should discuss on the basis of the actual situation what would be acceptable to the Western countries. It has to do with access to West Berlin. Rusk emphasized that we should guarantee free access to West Berlin. We utilized Comrade Khrushchev's discussion with (Belgian Premier Paul-Henri] Spaak35 and tried to justify ourselves by emphasizing that the GDR and the USSR have declared that they will respect the general order of the people of West Berlin. Our position was very understandable to them.
The question of access to West Berlin: Regarding this question, there have not been any statements. They are of the opinion that some new legal changes will have to be introduced or else the occupation regime will have to be maintained. Regarding Germany's borders: Rusk declared with Kennedy's approval that the government of the USA is prepared to recognize the borders of Germany de facto and de jure (the border on the Oder-Neisse). With regard to Czechoslovakia's borders, they are thinking over some form of commitment to recognize that country's borders. They are prepared to recognize the border between the GDR and West Germany de facto.
Comrade Khrushchev: Everything that we say here must remain top secret because our position corresponds to their position.
The West Germans are afraid that the USA will say more than it should about Germany's borders.
In the third discussion, Rusk also touched upon the following questions: security in Europe—(1) the conclusion of a non-aggression pact between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Home also spoke about this. (2) Rusk declared that the USA is in favor (of the idea] that the GDR and West Germany should not produce nuclear weapons and that other countries should not supply these countries with such weapons. (3) The USA declared itself in favor of reducing the size of armies on both sides of the front in the heart of Europe.
The first two matters should be resolved simultaneously. With regard to the other matter, the prevention of sudden aggression—that matter will have to be resolved at a later date.
Conclusion: They consider the question of security in Europe a concession to our advantage.
With regard to the sovereignty of the GDR, there were no statements. They did ask us, however, how we understand [the issue of] respecting the GDR's sovereignty.
The situation is favorable for us.
The USA proposed that we continue the exchange of views. We voiced our approval.
The exchange of views will be continued with the USA's ambassador in Moscow.
The basis for further discussions is not bad.
Comrade Khrushchev: The USA requested that we not force the issue of a peace treaty with Germany, that we wait 4-6 weeks so that it can work out its own position. Comrade Khrushchev spoke further about the incidents on the border to West Berlin, about how access was suspended to West Berlin, which has become an island.
He spoke further about the incident with the tanks [i.e., the tank standoff at Checkpoint Charlie on October 27] and how the police are checking every route leading to Berlin.
In a conversation with Comrade Khrushchev, Kennedy always stressed that we are a great country and that we should respect each other.
There will not be a war, but signing a peace treaty with the GDR might exacerbate the situation.
Berlin is a closed city, without prospects /statement of American journalists/.
Although there will be no war, we should not exacerbate the situation. We must continue our game.
We are not afraid, but we do not want war. We can agree with Kennedy: What's Berlin to you?—before you there are enormous possibilities, history is working to your advantage.
What will we gain and what will we lose by concluding a peace treaty with the GDR[?]
We will lose: The Americans, the English, the French might declare an economic blockade against the USSR and the socialist countries. Regarding the USSR, these are empty platitudes, but the other countries—the GDR, Poland, Hungary and to a lesser extent, Romania—might suffer if they do that. We should wait for 4-6 weeks, like they asked, to conclude a treaty.
We are of the opinion that we should continue with our (current] line, should keep applying pressure and
VOJTECH MASTNY, “New EVIDENCE ON THE HISTORY OF THE WARSAW PACT" (OCTOBER 26, 1998)
MILTON LEITENBERG, KATHRYN WEATHERSBY, AND SHU GUANG ZHANG, “NEW EVIDENCE ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE
HOPE HARRISON AND DAVID MURPHY, “REASSESSING THE BERLIN Crisis, 1958-62” CO-SPONSORED BY THE KENNAN
exploit the weaknesses of the enemy. We should strive to remove the official representatives from West Berlin and liquidate Adenauer's pretensions to West Berlin....
The economic situation of the USSR is outstanding. We should not force the conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany, but continue to move forward....
We should not pass any resolutions. The game continues, we should keep applying pressure. We should coordinate our position with Comrade Ulbricht. We should carry on salami tactics with regard to the rights of the Western countries....
We have to pick our way through, divide them, exploit all the possibilities.
Our situation is good, but if we do not apply pressure, then we will have to give up on signing a peace treaty with the GDR.
We cannot permit the reunification of Germany.
Why does (Konrad) Adenauer want to remain (West German) Chancellor? Because, he says, if we want to make contacts in the future with the Soviet Union, I can do it best.
Nobody supports West Germany in its desire for reunification.
I think that Adenauer is better than (West Berlin Mayor Willy] Brandt.
West Germany's ambassador (Hans Kroll] thinks that Adenauer should meet with Comrade Khrushchev.
We should set a meeting place....
this as well, we are turning directly to the West German population with corresponding demands. It is, so to say, a period of unpeaceful coexistence. A campaign is being officially organized by Bonn for reunification through socalled free elections. The implication is that it would be possible to speak with the "Soviet zone" if it had a different government. In the last few days, it has been suggested that with such a change, help could be given to raise the standard of living (in the GDR), which is allegedly 20% lower than in West Germany.
The document before you about the historical role of the GDR, which was prepared by the appropriate authorities in the GDR, reflects the current situation. It shows with which forces an opening for the German nation can be found. It is to be approved at the congress of the National Front. One cannot fail to recognize that a certain difficulty has arisen due to the postponement of a peace treaty. In wide circles of the population the opinion has arisen that the Soviet Union and the GDR have overreached themselves in the struggle for a peace treaty. This is connected to a large campaign that is currently being organized in and through West Berlin. It also has to do with the mobilization of the revanchist organizations. The task stands before us to strengthen the GDR; the way has been worked out and certain circles of the workers are being won over to it. Currently, there is broad discussion of how even better results can be achieved in the mobilization of production (Produktionsaufgebot). Now, the question arises of how to move forward with regard to a peace treaty and West Berlin.
In the Thompson-Gromyko talks, the respective standpoints are being tested. One has to see that the USA has raised its demands—e.g., with regard to controls on the autobahn. Kennedy is doing what Adenauer has proposed, but with more skillful methods.
It is a matter of clarifying prospects for the future. The document before you deals with the historical role of the GDR. It is of the greatest importance for the strengthening and future development of the GDR. It must be considered whether the GDR will make its own proposals regarding the problems of disarmament and the Geneva Conference. Perhaps with regard to the stance of the two German states towards disarmament. A broad campaign could be unfolded over what it means [to recognize the results of the Second World War and gradually to eliminate its remnants. It must be examined, whether a conference of the consultative committee of the Warsaw Pact states or the foreign ministers with regard to changing the anomalous status of West Berlin would be useful, or whether a declaration should be published by both press bureaus.
Up to now, we have been silent on a number of questions because we do not want to come under suspicion of seeking to disturb the talks that are being held at the highest level. We are in favor of a continuation of the talks between Thompson and Gromyko, but it must be weighed whether or not we should keep in sight the
(Source: AAN, KC PZPR, p. 115, 1. 39, pp. 318-23.)
Document No. 3 Note on the Discussion between Khrushchev and Ulbricht in Moscow, 26 February 1962 (Excerpts)
... Comrade Ulbricht pointed out that everything that the German side proposed to discuss had been fixed in writing.
Comrade Khrushchev stated that the declaration on the future of Germany can be designated as good; the responsible divisions in the foreign ministry and central committee have studied this statement and have several minor remarks, which one can accept or not. He did not yet have time to read the other documents. It would be useful, however, to talk over the economic problems in Gosplan, work out a position, and then discuss it. The German side agreed.
Comrade Ulbricht then pointed out that the documents were prepared on the basis of the last plenum of the CC (Central Committee of the) SED.
Since then, Adenauer has brought up the question of a change in the GDR's government. That means that Bonn is realizing a decision reached a year ago. Adenauer is turning directly to the population of the GDR and calling for diversion and sabotage (radio). We have begun to do