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113. Special National Intelligence Estimate/1/
Washington, August 24, 1961.
/1/Source: [Central Intelligence Agency, O/DDI Registry: Job 79-R01012A.
Secret. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations
of the Departments of State, Army, Navy, and the Air Force, and the
Joint Staff participated in the preparation of this estimate, which was submitted
by the Director of Central Intelligence and concurred in by all the members
of the USIB except the representatives of the AEC and FBI who abstained
because the subject was outside their jurisdiction.
SOVIET TACTICS IN THE BERLIN CRISIS
To estimate Soviet tactics in the Berlin crisis over the next few months,
with particular reference to the effect on these tactics of possible developments
within East Germany.
1. With the action of 13 August, the Communists have taken a long step
toward their objectives in Berlin and have created a new political situation
there. The border controls instituted on that date have met East Germany's
most pressing need by reducing the refugee flow to tolerable proportions.
At the same time, the division of Berlin into two separate cities has been
made virtually complete, with the eastern portion all but incorporated into
the GDR. Thus the Soviets, induced by the rising tide of refugees, have
taken unilateral action to achieve results which they had intended to accomplish
at a later date, and by different means.
2. The refugee question, however, was only one aspect of the larger problem
of stabilizing the GDR, and the closing of the Berlin escape route may worsen
other aspects if it leads to a further buildup of tensions within East Germany.
Even apart from this, the stemming of the refugee flow will not change the
USSR's view of the necessity to bolster the GDR's claims to sovereignty
with a peace treaty and eventually to eject Western influence from Berlin
altogether. We do not believe that the USSR has given up its intention to
press for a peace treaty and a "free city." The question is whether the
Soviet leaders will accelerate their movement towards these objectives,
or will moderate their pace after their considerable achievements of 13 August.
3. The action in Berlin has initiated a momentum which the Soviets may wish
to sustain. A wide variety of further unilateral measures is available to
them. The termination of military liaison missions would be a relatively low-keyed
act which might appear to the Soviets as a means of keeping events moving
in their favor./2/ Another option would be to
deny Allied rights to enter East Berlin, thereby carrying to its conclusion
the destruction of the four-power status of that part of the city. More drastically,
the East Germans might disrupt or harass civil traffic between West Berlin
and the Federal Republic; most dangerous of all, interference with Allied
access might begin. Politically, the USSR might choose to accelerate the
timing of a peace conference and a separate treaty with the GDR.
/2/Under the occupation, the US, French, and British forces in West Germany presently have military missions accredited to the Soviet Commander in East Germany, who in turn has missions to the three Allied Commanders. Footnote in the source text.
4. Another factor which could importantly affect the USSR's timing and
tactics is the increasing involvement of Soviet prestige. Khrushchev in
recent weeks has reacted to the stiffening US attitude by increasing his
commitment to early action. He now asserts that the issue transcends the problems
of Germany and Berlin, important as these remain, and that the West's refusal
to conclude a peace treaty represents an attempt to achieve a "strategic
breakthrough" against the Bloc. In claiming a challenge to Soviet power and
prestige, he wishes to convey to his opponents that the Soviet Union cannot
be expected to draw back from crisis situations in which reason and prudence
would appear to dictate restraint. He might decide to take new steps on Berlin
which would strengthen the image of inflexible resolve.
5. In our recent estimates of the USSR's policy toward Germany and Berlin,
we have regularly attributed to the Soviet leaders a confidence that they
can move gradually toward their eventual objectives without incurring unacceptable
risks. We have pointed to their belief that the West could probably be induced
to make negotiated concessions. And we have further estimated that, if these
Soviet expectations are not borne out, the USSR will move unilaterally,
but still intending to proceed in such a way as to avoid at any stage unduly
high risks of war./3/
/3/Our principal estimates on Soviet policy with respect to Berlin and Germany are NIE 11-4-60, "Main Trends in Soviet Capabilities and Policies, 1960-1965," dated 1 December 1960, paragraphs 161-164, Top Secret; NIE 11-7-61, "Soviet Short-Term Intentions Regarding Berlin and Germany," dated 25 April 1961, Secret; and SNIE 2-2-61, "Soviet and Other Reactions to Possible US Courses of Action with Respect to Berlin," dated 11 July 1961, Top Secret, Limited Distribution. Footnote in the source text. Copies of NIE 11-4-60 and SNIE 2-2-61 are in the Johnson Library, National Security File, National Intelligence Estimates. A copy of NIE 11-7-61 is in the Central Intelligence Agency, O/DDI Registry: Job 79-R01012A.
6. We believe that Soviet actions in the recent phase of the Berlin crisis
do not indicate that the USSR has departed from this general approach and
method. Thus we conclude that the Soviets' present intention probably is not
to take further drastic action immediately, though they may undertake measures
of limited scope. For example, they will probably further restrict German
civil and Allied access to East Berlin, and they may embark upon a program
of gradual harassments of German civil traffic to West Berlin. But rather
than pose a major challenge to West Berlin itself and the Allied position
there, we believe that their present preference is to let the effects of the
border closure sink in and see whether the Western Powers have become more
inclined to accept Soviet terms of negotiations.
7. In the absence of fairly definite proposals by the West, we think it unlikely
that Khrushchev will take the initiative in formally proposing a date and
other specifics for East-West negotiations. He clearly wishes to appear as
the champion of negotiations, and he may throw out hints, in an effort to
encourage a Western proposal, that the USSR could be persuaded to reduce its
demands if a conference were arranged. If presented with a Western invitation,
he would respond favorably but would undoubtedly attempt to define the task
of the conference in a fashion which served Soviet interests. If the negotiations
were in train toward the end of the year, he would probably postpone his deadline
for a treaty. If negotiations do not materialize, we believe that the next
Soviet step will be to issue invitations to their own peace conference, probably
accompanied by a revised draft of a treaty applicable to both German states
and providing for the declaration of a "free city" status for West Berlin.
We think under these circumstances that the chances are still considerably
better than even that the treaty would not be signed before the Party Congress
which convenes on 17 October.
Effect of Developments in East Germany
8. Soviet tactics will be affected by a large number of factors, including
the posture adopted by the West, the movement of opinion in the important
uncommitted countries, and domestic developments in East Germany. We have
recently examined the possibility that serious unrest might arise in East
Germany and have concluded that, under most circumstances, a major eruption
is unlikely;/4/ here we consider how popular
disturbances or an uprising might affect Soviet tactics.
/4/SNIE 12-4-61, "Stability of East Germany in a Berlin Crisis," dated 15 August 1961, Secret. Footnote in the source text. A copy is ibid.
9. The Soviet leaders evidently are confident of their capability for keeping discontent in check and repressing any outbreaks which might occur. If they came to feel that the chances of a general rising were becoming substantial, their main domestic efforts would probably be in the direction of menace and intimidation. They would alert and deploy their own forces in East Germany, as well as those of the GDR, and the public would be warned of the regime's determination to react with speed and vigor to hostile manifestations. Additionally, they would probably make available additional supplies of consumer goods in order to relieve economic shortages.
10. Popular dissatisfaction with internal political and economic conditions
would be the basic cause of mass unrest. However, the Communist efforts
to consolidate the GDR as a separate German state by isolating it from further
contact with the West, combined with the international tension generated
by Communist pressures against West Berlin, are adding to popular unrest.
Thus, there is a relationship between the degree of unrest in East Germany
and Moscow's pursuit of its policies aimed at neutralizing West Berlin and
fixing the division of Germany, particularly since the 13 August action has
deprived the East German regime of a safety valve.
11. Even so, we see little chance that the USSR, if it believed that an
East German rising was likely, would respond by altering its principal aims
or policies with respect to Berlin. While it is possible that the Soviets
might temporarily modify their tactics or extend their timing to reduce the
likelihood of a serious German uprising, we think it unlikely that such a
Soviet response would be either very significant or lasting. Moreover, we
believe that it would be next to impossible to convince the USSR, the GDR,
or the East German people that the West intended or had the capability to
support widespread anti-regime activities.
12. We believe that the Communists will act speedily and firmly in meeting
evidences of public disorder, if these actually develop, in East Germany
in the months ahead. If an uprising should occur, they would regard themselves
as having no other choice than to put it down, despite the cost to their position
and the danger of Western involvement. In the wake of such a repression,
the Soviets might accelerate their moves toward a separate peace treaty, believing
that it was unprofitable to spend further time in cultivating world opinion
or waiting for East-West talks, and that an early treaty would start the
process of rebuilding East German sovereignty and authority.
114. Editorial Note
In a memorandum to the President's senior advisers on disarmament, August
29, 1961, McGeorge Bundy stated that the President had directed him, in consultation
with the Departments of State and Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission,
to "recommend the appropriate time for the AEC to make an announcement about
the resumption of contingent preparations for nuclear testing and for the
President to issue a statement that this does not mean we were resuming tests
at any given time." For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume
VII, page 148. The next day the Soviet Union announced that it was resuming
nuclear testing. In response, the United States issued a statement recalling
Arthur Dean from the negotiations in Geneva. For text of the Soviet and
U.S. statements, see Documents on Disarmament, 1961, pages 337-350.
Following a series of meetings and telephone consultations among President
Kennedy and his advisers on September 2, the President decided to ask the
British Government to join the United States in publicly proposing to
the USSR a ban on nuclear tests in the atmosphere. For documentation on the
discussions, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VII, pages 158-160.
For text of the ensuing proposal by President Kennedy and Prime Minister Macmillan,
issued jointly in Washington and London on September 3, see Documents on
Disarmament, 1961, page 351.
In National Security Action Memorandum No. 87, September 5, the President
ordered resumption of underground weapons testing. In response to a memorandum
of September 21 from McGeorge Bundy, indicating that the President wanted
the schedule for resumption of nuclear testing accelerated, Glenn Seaborg,
Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, stated in a letter to the President,
October 7, that any acceleration would require testing in the atmosphere.
For text of NSAM 87 and Seaborg's letter, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963,
volume VII, pages 162 and 192-193.
At an October 10 meeting of the Committee of Principals on nuclear testing,
Herbert Scoville of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency noted that the
Soviets had conducted 24 nuclear tests since August 30, including 4 to 6 short-range
missile launchings and one test at 100,000 to 200,000 feet. Secretary of Defense
McNamara indicated that, in a memorandum to the President the previous day,
Deputy Secretary of Defense Gilpatric had strongly urged making preparations
for atmospheric testing. President Kennedy approved this course of action
on October 11. For text of the memorandum of the Committee's conversation,
see ibid., pages 197-202. Kennedy's approval is noted in a letter from McNamara
to the President, October 31. (Ibid., page 215)
115. Editorial Note
In a September 5, 1961, memorandum to President's Deputy Special Assistant
for National Security Affairs Rostow, Robert H. Johnson of the National Security
Council Staff discussed the possibility that Chairman Khrushchev might see
"short run advantages" during the Berlin crisis in "stepping up the level
of Communist military activity in Southeast Asia." Johnson suggested that
the United States "utilize the concern of the neutrals about the Berlin
situation to help deter Khrushchev" from taking such action. "We can do this
by making explicit ties between the two situations. I believe this might be
usefully done in the President's speech to the UN." In a September 15 memorandum
to President Kennedy, Rostow proposed appropriate language that Kennedy
might use in his UN speech. For text of Johnson's and Rostow's memoranda,
see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume I, pages 293-295 and 298-300.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 25, President Kennedy
made no explicit tie between the two situations, but he did discuss the "smoldering
coals in Southeast Asia" and the "dangerous crisis in Berlin"--"two threats
to the peace which are not on your crowded agenda, but which causes us, and
most of you, the deepest concern." For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents
of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pages 618-626.
In telegram 373 to the Department of State from Saigon, September 18,
Ambassador Nolting proposed a demarche to the Soviet Government regarding
Vietnam in light of a report that on September 12 Georgi Pushkin, Soviet negotiator
at the Geneva Conference on Laos, had told Ambassador Harriman that (in
Nolting's words) the "USSR 'could and would control northern Vietnam' re
Laotian settlement" and had given "faint indication of possible Soviet interest
in settling hostilities between two parts Vietnam." However, in a memorandum
for the record, October 5, Assistant Secretary of Defense William Bundy noted
that at the Planning Group Luncheon on October 3, "the suggestion that talking
direct to the Soviets on Vietnam might have some use was pretty unanimously
rejected." For text of both documents, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963,
volume I, pages 301-304 and 321.
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P63