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Mark Kramer - The Early Post-Stalin Succession Struggle and Upheavals in East-Central Europe: Internal-Extrenal Linkages in Soviet Policy Making (Part 1) - Journal of Cold War Studies 1:1 Journal of Cold War Studies 1.1 (1999) 3-55

The Early Post-Stalin Succession Struggle and Upheavals in East-Central Europe: Internal-External Linkages in Soviet Policy Making (Part 1)

Mark Kramer

The death of Josif Stalin on 5 March 1953 was soon followed by momentous changes in the Soviet bloc. The events in the first five months after Stalin's death have been the subject of endless scrutiny over the past four and a half decades. The release of new documentary sources and memoirs in the 1990s has inspired scholars in the United States and other Western countries, as well as several former East-bloc countries, to undertake further reassessments of the early post-Stalin period. Despite this continued outpouring of research, much about the events of 1953 has remained murky. The assessment provided here diverges from previous analyses on many key points and themes. The article draws heavily on newly declassified archival materials and firsthand accounts from Western and former Communist countries (Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Latvia, and Lithuania), which permit a more nuanced understanding of policy-making structures, deliberations, and procedures in the Soviet Union. A large number of the documents cited here had been unavailable or overlooked in the past.

Six issues are at the core of this article:

1. the influence of the post-Stalin succession struggle on Soviet policy toward East-Central Europe from March to mid-June 1953;
2. the impact of events in East-Central Europe on Soviet policy making during this period;
3. Soviet and East German responses to the upheavals of 16 and 17 June 1953;
4. the combined effect of the East German uprising and the post-Stalin succession struggle on Soviet policy toward Germany in the latter half of 1953; [End Page 3]
5. the broader consequences of the fluctuations in Soviet policy toward Germany; and
6. the implications of these events for theoretical analyses of the links between domestic and international politics.

The article is divided into eight main sections. The first section briefly reviews the Stalinist legacy in Soviet-East European relations, the dilemmas facing Stalin's successors, and the initial impact of the succession struggle on Soviet policy toward East-Central Europe. The second section explains why a new consensus on Soviet-East European relations gradually emerged in Moscow in the spring of 1953, driven in part by mounting turmoil in East Germany, unrest among tobacco workers in southern Bulgaria, and a rebellion by blue-collar workers in Plzen, Czechoslovakia. The third section looks more closely at how the leaders of the Soviet Communist Party (CPSU) decided to restructure Soviet ties with the East-Central European countries, especially East Germany. This section makes it clear that one of the main proponents of radical changes in Soviet Deutschlandpolitik was Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, who staked out a leading role on the "German question" and worked closely with other key officials (especially Georgii Malenkov and Lavrentii Beria) to generate a high-level consensus. Previous accounts of this period have greatly underestimated Molotov's part in the reorientation of Soviet policy vis-à-vis East Germany, not least because of Molotov's own actions and statements later on.

The fourth section discusses how, in a series of negotiations with top East-Central European officials in the first half of June 1953, Soviet leaders began implementing the consensus that Molotov had helped forge. The fifth section recounts the uprising in East Germany on 16 and 17 June 1953 and the attempts by East German and Soviet leaders to reassert control. The sixth section examines the aftermath of the East German crisis, particularly the arrest of Lavrentii Beria on 26 June and the well-orchestrated denunciation of Beria at a CPSU Central Committee plenum in early July. It shows how Beria's rivals tried to legitimize their action by accusing the deposed official of misdeeds for which they themselves were actually responsible, in whole or in part. The fortuitous timing of this incident helped bring about another reorientation of Soviet policy in East-Central Europe, undoing some of the most radical elements that had recently been introduced.

The seventh section explores the longer-term impact of the 1953 upheavals on Soviet policy in East-Central Europe. Not only did these events consolidate the USSR's sphere of influence in the region; they also resulted in a more cautious approach to political reform in East-Central Europe, a restructuring of indigenous security forces, and a greater emphasis on counterinsurgency missions for Soviet troops. [End Page 4]

The concluding section underscores the complicated interaction between internal and external events from March through July 1953. A crucial internal phenomenon in the Soviet Union (the death of Stalin and the post-Stalin succession struggle) led to sweeping changes in Soviet external policy, which in turn had profound effects on internal developments in the countries of East-Central Europe. A growing wave of instability in East-Central Europe culminated in the East German uprising. Subsequently, the changes and unrest outside the Soviet Union fed back into the succession struggle in Moscow, as Beria's rivals disclaimed and sought to cover up their earlier positions. This internal maneuvering soon resulted in far-reaching changes in Soviet external policy, recasting the entire Soviet debate about Germany and eliminating the opportunities for a fundamentally different relationship with East-Central Europe. That outcome, in turn, had a far-reaching impact on international politics by congealing the division of Germany and the East-West standoff in Europe.

An analysis of these domestic-external interactions can shed light not only on the dynamics of the former Soviet bloc, but on the more general question of internal-external linkages in world politics. Research on this topic has expanded rapidly in recent years, despite the misgivings of Kenneth Waltz and some other proponents of "structural realist" theories of international relations, who argue that the study of domestic politics is of little relevance to an understanding of system-level changes. 1 One of the aims of this reassessment of Soviet policy toward East-Central Europe in 1953 is to determine whether purely domestic changes in State A (in this case, changes in the Soviet Union) can indeed have important effects not only on State A's foreign policy, but on the whole international system.

The Stalinist Legacy and Initial Vacillations

The impact of Stalinism on Soviet foreign policy was nowhere more evident than in East-Central Europe. Despite the "loss" of Yugoslavia in the late 1940s, Soviet influence in the region was firmly entrenched under Stalin. From 1947 through the early 1950s, the East-Central European states embarked on crash industrialization and collectivization programs, causing vast social upheaval yet also leading [End Page 5] to rapid short-term economic growth. No conflict between "viability" and "cohesion" yet existed, for Stalin was able to rely on the presence of Soviet troops, a tightly woven network of security forces, the wholesale penetration of the East-Central European governments by Soviet agents, the use of mass purges and political terror, and the unifying threat of renewed German militarism to ensure that regimes loyal to Moscow remained in power. 2 By the early 1950s, Stalin had established a degree of control over East-Central Europe to which his successors could only aspire.

Despite the benefits that Stalin (and his successors) had derived from the consolidation of Communist rule in East-Central Europe, the relentless drive for industrialization and collectivization had come at great cost. During the final months of Stalin's life, senior officials in Moscow received a plethora of disconcerting reports about the situation in the East-bloc countries. Meetings with East-Central European leaders, visits to the region by high-level Soviet delegations, and cables from Soviet diplomats and intelligence officials all disclosed the extent of damage caused by the imposition of Stalinist policies. In late December 1952, the Soviet ambassador in Czechoslovakia informed the Soviet leadership that Czechoslovak industry had been plunged into "near-total chaos" since 1948, allowing only 8 percent of intended shipments to the USSR to be fulfilled. 3 Subsequent dispatches from Prague and Bratislava confirmed the "gross inadequacies," "misguided programs," and "dangerous mistakes" of the Czechoslovak leadership. 4 In Hungary, too, Soviet officials acknowledged the "severe deficiencies" and "discontent" resulting from political upheavals and the entrenchment of central planning. 5 Much the same was noted by Soviet intelligence sources in Romania, who [End Page 6] warned of the "extremely detrimental conditions and disruption" in the economy and the mounting "political confusion" in areas adjoining Yugoslavia. 6 These reports had no direct influence on Soviet policy while Stalin was alive, but they could not help but affect the outlook of his successors.

Even so, the growing signs of trouble in East-Central Europe, which cropped up with ever greater urgency after Stalin's death, were initially overshadowed in Moscow by the post-Stalin succession struggle. 7 An elaborate agreement devised by Stalin's closest aides on the eve of his death had elevated Georgii Malenkov to the head of the Soviet government, restored Vyacheslav Molotov to his customary job as foreign minister (a post he had held from 1939 to 1949), given expanded powers to the long-time head of the secret police, Lavrentii Beria, and reduced the membership of the Communist Party's ruling organs, which had been unduly enlarged (and thus diluted) by Stalin to bolster his own power. 8 Ten leading officials from Stalin's entourage--Malenkov, Beria, Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov, Nikita Khrushchev, Nikolai Bulganin, Lazar Kaganovich, Anastas Mikoyan, Maksim Saburov, and Mikhail Pervukhin--were appointed members of the new CPSU Presidium (as the Politburo was then known). Initially, no one was chosen to replace Stalin as CPSU First Secretary, but Malenkov, Beria, and [End Page 7] Khrushchev were designated to oversee Stalin's documents and personal papers, which later proved to be crucial weapons in the power struggle. 9

On 5 March, these new arrangements were presented by Malenkov and Beria as a fait accompli to an extraordinary gathering of senior party and state officials, who immediately voiced their enthusiastic approval. Behind the scenes, however, a fierce competition was still under way among several members of Stalin's inner circle, each of whom aspired to take over the dying leader's mantle on his own, without having to share power. The notion of collective leadership, in their view, was merely a compromise arrangement that sooner or later would give way to a dominant figure. 10 Khrushchev, in particular, felt great ambivalence and unease about the initial post-Stalin order, despite his role in helping to shape it. On the one hand, he had retained high-level posts within the CPSU and had been given responsibility, along with Malenkov and Beria, for Stalin's papers. This latter function enabled Khrushchev to exploit incriminating documents against his rivals and to prevent them from using those materials against him.

On the other hand, Khrushchev had been left off the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers, a state organ that for a brief while in 1953 gained greater significance and visibility than in the past. 11 Although the CPSU Presidium was the supreme decision-making body in the Soviet Union after Stalin's death, the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers temporarily took on an important supplementary role. Officials who held posts on both organs enjoyed increased authority and status. Malenkov had been appointed chairman [End Page 8] of the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers on 5 March, and Beria, Molotov, Bulganin, and Kaganovich had been appointed first deputies. (All five were also members of the new CPSU Presidium.) The omission of Khrushchev from the Presidium of the Council of Ministers seemed to put him at a disadvantage. Over the longer run, this discrepancy proved to be of only minor significance (especially once Khrushchev was appointed CPSU First Secretary in September 1953), but in the first days and weeks after Stalin's death it did appear to make a difference, not least in the choice of speakers at Stalin's funeral on 9 March. Malenkov, Beria, and Molotov were the only ones who delivered speeches at the funeral, whereas Khrushchev's sole function there as chair of the organizing committee was to introduce Malenkov. 12 The implication was that Malenkov, Beria, and Molotov had gained an edge on Khrushchev and the others, at least for the time being.

The precariousness of the initial post-Stalin arrangements and the intensity of the power struggle were attributable more to personal ambitions than to fundamental policy differences. This is not to say that issues were unimportant or that genuine disagreements about certain policies did not exist among the potential successors, but the positions espoused by contending leaders (particularly Khrushchev) were often fluid, reflecting their desires to outmaneuver their rivals. To the extent that issues were at the heart of the power struggle, the dominant ones were all internal: whether violent terror should be permanently ended, how far political liberalization should go, what to do about agriculture, whether to emphasize light or heavy industry, how to handle the non-Russian nationalities, whether to rehabilitate the victims of repression, and so forth. Foreign policy issues were not wholly irrelevant, but they clearly mattered less than differences over internal problems.

The preoccupation with internal issues forestalled any immediate effort to redress the hardships in East-Central Europe. On the rare occasions in March and April 1953 when Soviet leaders, as a group, discussed adverse trends in the Eastern bloc, they concentrated solely on the symptoms of those trends rather than the causes. Not until May--more than two months after Stalin's death--did either the CPSU Presidium or the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers try to deal with the root causes of the deteriorating situation [End Page 9] in East-Central Europe. Prior to those meetings, key Soviet policy decisions about the region had been continually deferred. Although domestic infighting and uncertainty in Moscow in March and April 1953 did not prevent the emergence of a broad consensus that major changes were needed in East-Central Europe, Soviet priorities at the time were focused elsewhere. As a result, the pronouncements and recommendations emanating from Moscow after Stalin's death were erratic and haphazard, enabling several of the East European countries to retrench and avoid any significant movement away from Stalinism. 13

Despite these vacillations, the very fact that a policy consensus gradually emerged was itself a notable achievement. On very few issues did Soviet leaders agree as much as they did about relations with East-Central Europe. Stalin's successors all hoped to prevent violent turmoil in the Eastern bloc while maintaining broad Soviet control. Increasingly, they feared that stability in the region would be undermined unless the East-Central European governments rectified the "egregious political and economic abuses" they had committed during the Stalin era. Contrary to what many Western analysts have claimed, high-level disagreements in Moscow about intrabloc affairs were negligible during the first few months after Stalin's death. 14 Molotov, Beria, and Malenkov had been working closely together on relations with East-Central Europe since late 1945, when they (along with Stalin, Andrei Zhdanov, and Mikoyan) had been appointed members of the Soviet Politburo's special Commission on Foreign Affairs, a body that existed until March 1953. 15 They understood as well [End Page 10] as anyone the magnitude of problems in the region. Molotov and his colleagues may have disagreed about some other issues, but when it came to East-Central Europe, they saw largely eye to eye and cooperated in the spring of 1953 to devise proposals for far-reaching reforms in the bloc countries. 16

The emerging consensus on this matter was both symbolized and strengthened in early May 1953 when Viktor Grigoryan, a senior foreign policy official who had long maintained close ties with Malenkov and Beria, was reassigned to work as a top aide to Molotov at the Foreign Ministry. 17 This transfer, coming shortly after the CPSU Central Committee (CC) Commission on Ties with Foreign Communist Parties (which Grigoryan had headed for several years in its various incarnations) was converted into a full Central Committee department of the same name, would never have occurred unless there had been wide agreement in Moscow about the situation in East-Central Europe. 18 By May 1953, no one in the Soviet leadership doubted any longer that the East-bloc regimes should drastically modify, or even abandon, their Stalinist policies as soon as possible. The only remaining question was how much pressure the Soviet Union would have to exert to achieve this end. [End Page 11]

The Growing Impetus for Soviet Action

By May and early June 1953, Soviet leaders were finally ready to adopt concrete, forceful measures in East-Central Europe. Their desire to act was sparked by a number of adverse developments in the region that made it difficult to eschew or put off key decisions much longer. Three events, in particular, seemed to underscore the dangers that might arise if the East European states failed to modify their Stalin-era policies: the ongoing refugee crisis in East Germany; the outbreak of strikes and riots among tobacco workers in Bulgaria; and the onset of much larger and more serious unrest in Plzen, Czechoslovakia.

The East German Refugee Crisis

A mass exodus of East German citizens to West Germany had been under way from the moment the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was founded, but the problem had taken on a whole new dimension in July 1952, when the East German leadership, at Stalin's behest, adopted a crash program for the "Construction of Socialism" (Aufbau des Sozialismus). 19 The program, as endorsed by the Second Party Conference of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, or SED), called for much higher output targets, a vigorous campaign against private enterprise, a further shift toward heavy industry at the expense of consumer production, forcible collectivization of agriculture, and the formal establishment of an East German army. These measures were accompanied by a stepped-up "class struggle" (i.e., harsh repression) against "bourgeois" and dissenting elements, as well as a full-scale crackdown on the Protestant church. The program quickly resulted in severe hardships and deprivation, including widespread hunger and food shortages, rationing and higher prices for basic consumer goods, and prolonged interruptions of heat and electricity during the winter. By late 1952 and early 1953, Soviet intelligence officials in East Germany were sending reports back to Moscow about the growing tension in the GDR and were openly acknowledging that East Germany no longer had "even the slightest attraction for citizens of West Germany." 20 [End Page 12]

Not surprisingly, the "Construction of Socialism" program spurred a vastly increased flow of refugees to the West, causing even greater strains and economic dislocation in the GDR. In the first four months of 1953 alone, nearly 122,000 East Germans fled to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), more than twice the rate of the previous year. 21 Almost all of these flights were illegal under East German law, as shown in Table 1. Among those fleeing in 1953 were many hundreds of East German police, security troops, paramilitary soldiers, and border guards, whose morale had plummeted amid the growing hardships in the GDR. 22 The East German authorities had tried to combat the problem by imposing strict border controls and a "prohibited zone" along the demarcation line with West Germany (an area that until mid-1952 had been largely open on both sides), but the closing of the border failed to stem the growing tide of refugees. 23

The situation in East Germany deteriorated even further in mid-May 1953, when the SED Politbüro, headed by Walter Ulbricht, suddenly announced a 10-percent increase in the stringency of work quotas, effective on [End Page 13] 1 June. This measure was formally enacted by the East German government on 28 May. 24 Some industrial ministry officials and plant managers in the GDR used the SED's announcement as an excuse to raise their own norms by as much as 60 percent. By mid-June, when the new quotas were in place, another sixty-five thousand people had left East Germany for the West, an average of more than ten thousand a week. 25

The huge efflux of East Germans was a source of great anxiety in Moscow in the spring of 1953. High-ranking Soviet officials were well aware of the grievances that had prompted so many people to flee to the West. A memorandum commissioned by the CPSU Presidium in May 1953 affirmed that the refugee crisis was attributable mainly to the "outrageous mistakes and excesses that party and state organs [in the GDR] have committed against different segments of the population." 26 That finding was echoed by dozens of other reports in the spring of 1953 from Soviet diplomats, intelligence officials, and military commanders in East Germany who warned of the "growing unrest among the [East German] population stemming from the hardline policies of the GDR leadership." 27

Even if there had been no risk of political instability, the disruption caused by the GDR's massive loss of badly needed workers, farmers, and intellectuals (not to mention the several thousand SED members and police officers who had fled) imposed a serious economic burden on the Soviet Union because of the extra subsidies needed to keep the East German economy afloat. 28 Although this burden may have seemed tolerable to Stalin, it was much less palatable to his successors. Initially, the new Soviet leaders had tried to resist East German pleas for greatly expanded economic aid, but they soon realized that something had to be done in the near term to cope with the refugee crisis. In mid-April 1953, the Soviet government adopted a resolution providing higher levels of economic assistance to the GDR. 29 The [End Page 14] increases were far less than what East German officials had been requesting, but Soviet leaders for the time being were unwilling to offer more. Their chariness stemmed primarily from a growing belief that economic aid alone would make no difference over the long run--in fact would be wasted--unless the problems underlying the refugee crisis were addressed.

Riots in Bulgaria

Concerns in Moscow were further piqued in early May when unrest suddenly broke out in southern Bulgaria. Although Bulgaria had long been regarded as the most docile and subservient member of the Soviet bloc, the country actually was one of the most logical candidates in East-Central Europe to experience violent instability after Stalin's death. The imposition of Stalinism had exacted a heavier toll in Bulgaria, both human and material, than in any other East-Central European country. Because small-scale agriculture had always accounted for a dominant part (80 to 85 percent) of the Bulgarian economy, collectivization and crash industrialization were particularly disruptive there. Scattered protests against collectivization had occurred in the countryside in 1948 and 1950, but the Bulgarian security forces ruthlessly suppressed those disturbances, deterring any further attempts to defy the regime. No open dissent at all was permitted after Prime Minister Vulko Chervenkov consolidated his power in November 1950 by gaining the top post in the Bulgarian Communist Party (Bulgarska Komunisticheska Partiya, or BKP). As head of both the government and the Communist Party, Chervenkov was able to eliminate his main political rivals and foster a godlike cult of personality around himself. He had lived for many years in the Soviet Union and was thoroughly devoted to Stalin, a devotion that prompted him to base all aspects of Bulgaria's political and economic system on the Soviet model. During Chervenkov's reign, violent repression and mass terror in Bulgaria reached greater heights than in any other East-Central European country. 30

Political repression in Bulgaria had been accompanied by severe economic hardship. Although agricultural production and heavy industrial output increased in the late 1940s and early 1950s, living standards for the vast majority of the population were deliberately kept very low. Soviet diplomats [End Page 15] and intelligence advisers in Bulgaria had been reporting since late 1952 about the "excesses," "constant abuses," and "widespread discontent" that Chervenkov's policies had engendered. 31 The harshness of his regime had even spurred a growing number of attempts by Bulgarian citizens to flee to neighboring countries, notably Greece and Yugoslavia. So long as Stalin was alive, however, Chervenkov was under no pressure to rectify these shortcomings. On the contrary, officials in Moscow supported Chervenkov's efforts to deter "illegal emigration" by relying on stepped-up coercion. In February 1953, the Bulgarian government adopted a law stipulating that relatives of anyone who fled would be imprisoned. Soviet leaders also endorsed Chervenkov's decision in late 1952 to press for even greater output. 32 To this end, the Bulgarian authorities prepared to introduce higher quotas in mid-1953 for workers producing tobacco and other agricultural goods.

Stalin's death brought a small but significant loosening of the political climate in Bulgaria, enough to dissipate some of the fear that had prevailed during the Stalinist terror. 33 Even so, any prospect of a fundamental improvement in the situation appeared remote. Although Chervenkov enacted a few token reforms, he sought to retain pervasive control over all political, social, and economic activities. The plans devised in recent months to set higher work norms were implemented on schedule in May 1953. Despite the few glimmers of hope that had finally appeared, economic hardships seemed, if anything, to be getting worse.

The combination of raised expectations and continued austerity quickly proved explosive as hundreds of workers in tobacco factories near Plovdiv and Khaskovo (roughly 150 kilometers southeast of Sofia) engaged in strikes and "chaotic demonstrations" on 3 May. 34 The workers demanded that the [End Page 16] higher norms be repealed and that "senior officials" meet with them to discuss their grievances. The disturbances came as such a shock to the BKP leadership that Chervenkov decided it was necessary to send one of his erstwhile rivals, Anton Yugov, to Plovdiv to hold talks with the strikers. Chervenkov had demoted Yugov a few years earlier, but he realized that Yugov's background as a former tobacco worker in Plovdiv would help mollify the demonstrators. Yugov's visit, especially his promises that the workers' complaints would be redressed, swiftly defused the crisis and bolstered Yugov's standing in the BKP, allowing him to make a comeback a few years later. Although reprisals were soon meted out against the alleged organizers of the strike, the episode put a notable dent in Chervenkov's Stalinist edifice. The BKP leader was relieved to have the crisis settled (despite the boost it had given to Yugov), but he wanted to ensure that no precedents would be set for other workers in Bulgaria. The press was forbidden to make even an oblique mention of the incident, and all information about it was withheld.

The timing of the Bulgarian riots proved critical for the Soviet leadership. To the extent that high-level views in Moscow about East-Central Europe had earlier been in flux, the unrest in Bulgaria helped dispel any illusions. If instability could emerge in the country deemed most loyal to the Soviet Union, the situation elsewhere in the region seemed all the more volatile and precarious.

The Plzen Rebellion

The emerging consensus in Moscow that economic and political reforms were urgently needed in East-Central Europe was reinforced by the upheavals in Plzen. 35 In late 1952, the Czechoslovak government had decided--after lengthy consultations with Soviet officials--to impose steep price increases and a harsh currency "reform." Prices on state-supplied goods were raised by an average of 15 to 30 percent at the start of 1953, compared to a mere 4.4 percent increase in nominal wages. This disjunction accounted for more than half of the precipitous (roughly 40 percent) drop in living standards that Czechoslovak [End Page 17] citizens experienced in 1953. 36 The government did not publicly disclose its intention to introduce a new currency as of June 1953, but rumors kept circulating in early 1953 about an impending exchange of old currency for new on a five-to-one basis for the first three hundred koruny and a fifty-to-one basis after that. 37 Because this transaction was bound to wipe out the bulk of most people's savings overnight, the persistent rumors (combined with the price increases that had already been implemented) touched off a wave of unrest in Czechoslovakia during the first few months of 1953. The burgeoning "disaffection and hostility" were reported at length by Soviet diplomats and intelligence personnel in Czechoslovakia, whose cables back to Moscow were regularly channeled to high-ranking CPSU officials. 38

The surge of unrest in Czechoslovakia subsided temporarily in March 1953 after the death of the hard-line leader of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (Komunistická strana Ceskoslovenska, or KSC), Klement Gottwald, who had fallen ill while attending Stalin's funeral, but any hopes that austerity and political repression in Czechoslovakia might end were soon dashed. Far from seeking to carry out political and economic reforms (as was being done in the Soviet Union), KSC officials took a number of steps right after Stalin's death to ensure the preservation of full-fledged Stalinism and ubiquitous party control. 39 Despite the proclamation of a very limited amnesty in April 1953, show trials and political terror continued unabated in Czechoslovakia long after Soviet leaders had begun announcing rehabilitations, broad amnesties, and a curtailment of arbitrary arrests. The Czechoslovak government's earlier price increases, along with other features of its Stalinist economic programs, were left intact. In public, KSC leaders continued to insist that "our currency is stable" and that rumors of an imminent monetary reform were "malicious gossip purveyed by class enemies and Western imperialism," but in reality, Czechoslovak officials were more determined than ever to proceed with the currency exchange. 40 Rumors of the move persisted [End Page 18] despite all the official disclaimers. As a result, strikes and protests involving a total of more than 32,000 blue-collar workers occurred at dozens of factories around the country in April and May. 41

On 30 May, the Czechoslovak government finally acknowledged that a new law on monetary reform would take effect in two days. Even before that announcement was broadcast over the radio, workers in numerous Czechoslovak cities had begun expressing political as well as economic grievances. This trend was particularly noticeable during a series of demonstrations in Trinec, Ostrava, Pardubice, Kladno, and Vimperk and at the CKD Stalingrad factory in Prague. Those disturbances were quickly brought under control, but the riots that began in Plzen on 1 June--the day the currency reform took effect--were of an entirely different order of magnitude. The immediate spark for the rebellion was the government's abrupt announcement on 30 May of the imminent reform after months of repeated denials, but strikers at the giant Skoda automotive plant soon began venting much deeper grievances. A last-ditch effort by local party officials to stave off a rebellion proved futile as thousands of workers poured out of the Skoda factory and embarked on a three-kilometer march to the municipal government headquarters. Although guards at the Skoda plant were able to erect barricades that prevented many thousands of other employees from joining the march, huge crowds of workers from nearby industrial enterprises in Plzen took to the streets in solidarity with the Skoda strikers. 42

As the size of the rally grew, so did the protesters' temerity. With help from a large number of young people who had joined the demonstration, rebellious workers occupied the city hall and began burning Soviet flags, tearing down banners proclaiming "Long Live the Soviet Union," destroying Communist propaganda material, putting up posters with anti-Communist slogans, and throwing busts of Vladimir Lenin, Josif Stalin, and Klement Gottwald out the window in symbolic retribution for the death of the last non-Communist foreign minister in Czechoslovakia, Jan Masaryk, five years earlier. (Masaryk was murdered in 1948 by State Security agents at the behest of the Communist authorities, but his defenestration was officially alleged to have been a suicide.) After setting up a public-address system on the balcony overlooking the main city square, the protesters issued demands for the overthrow [End Page 19] of the central government, free and competitive elections, an end to Communist rule, and the return of U.S. troops to Plzen. (U.S. forces had liberated Plzen from German rule in 1945.) Each demand elicited a deafening roar of approbation from the vast crowd below. In the meantime, another large group of rebels was busy storming and occupying the city court building, known as the Palace of Justice. Several of the judges at the court, who had opened fire on the demonstrators, were forced to flee for their lives. The protesters then ransacked the building and burned all the equipment, files, and propaganda material they could find.

For nearly two days, control of the city passed to the demonstrators. Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the streets, accompanying jeeps festooned with U.S. and prewar Czechoslovak flags. Portraits of Tomás Masaryk and Edvard Benes, the leaders of Czechoslovakia's democratic governments between 1918 and 1948, were displayed in windows throughout the city. Although no looting of private residences occurred, some of the demonstrators sought to exact violent reprisals against KSC and State Security (StB) personnel, resulting in a number of serious beatings. Those scattered incidents were typical of the chaotic euphoria and confusion that marked the entire rebellion. In the absence of any formal leadership or organizational structure, the protesters were united mainly by their desire to get rid of Communism.

The unexpected turmoil in Plzen caused disarray and paralysis within the local party and government organs. Many KSC members and municipal officials took part in the unrest (in some cases mainly out of a sense of self-preservation), and even those who remained loyal to the Communist regime were reluctant to order a harsh crackdown. A secret report on the Plzen events, prepared at the behest of the KSC Politburo shortly after the crisis, acknowledged that "in large factories Communists spearheaded anti-state actions, and the People's Militia refused to intervene." 43 On the streets outside the factories, some People's Militia units did open fire, but their efforts merely provoked angry retaliation from the crowds. Local StB and army units were no more successful than the People's Militia in dispersing the protests, and the regular uniformed police either stood by or--more often--joined the protesters. In desperation, a hard-line group of municipal authorities appealed to the central government for help. Combat troops equipped with machine guns, rocket launchers, armored personnel carriers, and tanks, as well as heavily armed reinforcements from the Interior Guard and People's Militia, arrived from Prague on 2 June. The incoming security units encountered substantial resistance, but they gradually suppressed the revolt and [End Page 20] were able to retake the main city square with almost no bloodshed. (Of the seventy to eighty casualties from the uprising, nearly all were members of the local People's Militia and StB.) After proclaiming martial law, the security detachments arrested some two thousand people and compelled the remaining demonstrators to return home or to their factories in accordance with a strict curfew. 44

Over the next few days, StB patrols arrested many thousands of additional workers at the Skoda plant and elsewhere who were deemed to have taken part in the uprising and could not prove otherwise. Countless other people who had happened to be in the vicinity of the demonstrations, if only by chance, were taken into custody as "bourgeois conspirators" and "class enemies." The alleged ringleaders of the "events" (as the uprising was euphemistically described later by both the central and the local authorities) were promptly tried and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Harsh punishments also were handed down against local KSC and StB officials who had wavered during the revolt or, even worse, participated in it. 45 In the meantime, preventive clampdowns were imposed in Prague and other Czechoslovak cities as part of what Czechoslovak president Antonín Zapotocky described as an "iron hand policy." 46 That policy was reinforced by a central government decree on 3 June, which set draconian penalties for absenteeism and sharply curtailed opportunities to change jobs. Subsequently, the authorities made some effort to alleviate worker discontent by reducing the price increases for many consumer goods, but the main thrust of the regime's attempts to deter further protests--at least initially--was through the "display of an iron hand."

The violent unrest in Plzen, though confined largely to that one city, came at a crucial time for Soviet policy toward East-Central Europe. Soviet leaders had been hoping that the recent disturbances in Bulgaria would be a limited, one-time occurrence. The outbreak of much more serious riots and demonstrations in Plzen left no doubt that, as the Czechoslovak authorities themselves acknowledged, large "segments of the working class [in Eastern Europe] do not support the Communist party." 47 What was especially disconcerting for Soviet (and Czechoslovak) leaders is that the rebellion erupted among blue-collar workers in heavy industry, who had long been regarded as a reliable base of support for the regime. Combined with the refugee crisis in East Germany and the unrest in Bulgaria, the Plzen revolt provided disturbing [End Page 21] evidence that indigenous pressures for change in East-Central Europe could not be contained much longer.

These growing signs of disorder helped bring an end to the initial period of uncertainty and hesitation in Moscow. Although Soviet leaders differed slightly in their views about some aspects of intrabloc relations, they increasingly agreed on two fundamental points: (1) that sweeping political and economic reforms were needed in East-Central Europe; and (2) that the Soviet Union should exert strong pressure on East European officials who tried to resist reforms.

The Top-Down Soviet Consensus

The consensus on these points took shape primarily at the highest levels of the Soviet policy-making structure, where officials were willing to think in bolder terms than many of their subordinates were. Although the information flowing into Moscow from Soviet intelligence and diplomatic sources was crucial in enabling the top leaders to realize how urgent the situation in East-Central Europe had become, the task of deciding how to "prevent a catastrophe" (as Malenkov put it) was handled directly by the top leaders themselves. Policy recommendations from below were still usually cautious and narrowly defined, just as they had been during the Stalin era. At the top of the hierarchy, there was greater latitude to move away from long-entrenched practices. The impetus for far-reaching changes in Soviet policy thus came primarily from above.

This "top-down" style of policy making was evident as early as 19 March when, at Molotov's behest, the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers decided to reject a proposal from the SED leadership to establish tighter border security and stiff transport regulations along the divide between East and West Berlin. The East German proposal was designed to reinforce the steps that leaders in the GDR had recently taken to seal off the FRG-GDR demarcation line, as discussed above. The proposal had been endorsed by Soviet officials stationed in East Germany, and it undoubtedly would have been approved if Stalin had still been alive; but Molotov dismissed it as "politically unacceptable and grossly simplistic," adding that it "would evoke animosity and discontent among the Berlin population vis-à-vis the GDR government and the Soviet authorities in Germany." 48 Molotov's view carried the day.

The top-down reorientation of Soviet policy continued over the next few months, as Molotov and his colleagues increasingly sensed that drastic [End Page 22] changes were required in East-Central Europe. On 6 May, Lavrentii Beria submitted a three-page memorandum to the CPSU Presidium with a report from the chief representative of the Soviet internal affairs ministry (MVD) in East Germany, Colonel Ivan Fadeikin. 49 Fadeikin's report highlighted the growing urgency of the refugee problem and affirmed that the exodus was being spurred by widespread political and economic discontent:

The increasing number of flights to the West can be explained . . . by the unwillingness of individual groups of peasants to join the agricultural production cooperatives that are being organized, by the fear among small and medium entrepreneurs about the abolition of private property and the confiscation of their possessions, by the desire of some young people to evade service in the GDR armed forces, and by the severe difficulties that the GDR is experiencing with the supply of food products and consumer goods for the population. 50

The report noted that desertion from the East German armed forces was reaching an alarming rate, not only because of "the low state of political-educational work among [East German] troops," but also because of the regime's "failure to provide adequate food and clothing" for its soldiers. 51 The report complained that "the SED Central Committee is not waging a vigorous enough fight" to curb the exodus of refugees and that East German leaders "falsely assume that such flights will be unavoidable so long as free contact exists between West Berlin and the GDR." 52 (This last point suggests that East German officials were already thinking about erecting a wall along the East-West border in Berlin, a step that Soviet leaders were unwilling to condone until August 1961.)

Beria recommended that the CPSU Presidium instruct the Soviet Control Commission in Germany (SKKG) to offer "proposals for measures that will bolster the work of appropriate organs in the GDR and halt the exodus of GDR citizens to West Germany." 53 Beria's memorandum did not specify what [End Page 23] sort of "advice" and "recommendations" the CPSU Presidium "might convey to the [East] German friends"--though one option he evidently had in mind was the imposition of tighter border controls--but it did place the issue squarely before the Soviet leadership.

The full CPSU Presidium gave detailed consideration to the problem at a meeting on 14 May that focused not only on the refugee crisis, but on other pressing matters connected with East Germany and East-Central Europe as a whole. 54 The participants approved a draft telegram submitted by Molotov, which ordered two senior officials on the SKKG, Marshal Vasilii Chuikov and Pyotr Yudin, to "advise Cdes. Ulbricht and [Otto] Grotewohl in a tactful manner" that the process of collectivization in East Germany should be halted for at least the rest of the year. 55 This recommendation was expanded by Molotov a few weeks later to call for the "disbandment of all agricultural collectives [in the GDR] that were formed in violation of the principle of voluntariness, as well as all unprofitable and unviable collectives." 56 The dismantled farms, he added, should be replaced by "individually owned units." Molotov's proposals on this matter were in full accord with Beria's views--contrary to what was later alleged--and it is clear that the two were able to forge a consensus within the CPSU Presidium about the need to curtail and, in some cases, even reverse the process of collectivization in East-Central Europe. The prevailing view within the CPSU leadership was summed up by Khrushchev in early June 1953 when he argued that the only collectivized farms in East Germany worth preserving "are [those] based on maximum free [choice] and voluntariness." 57

At the same meeting of the CPSU Presidium on 14 May, the assembled leaders approved another directive to Chuikov and Yudin, which also had been drafted by Molotov. The directive ordered the two SKKG officials to inform Ulbricht that Soviet leaders strongly disapproved of the speech he had delivered on 5 May to commemorate Karl Marx's birthday. 58 In that speech, Ulbricht declared that "the GDR has entered a new stage in which, as a people's democratic state, it is carrying out the functions of a dictatorship of the proletariat" and "is getting set to build the foundations of socialism." 59 [End Page 24] At Molotov's recommendation, the CPSU Presidium denounced the speech as a "politically misguided" document that "could severely damage the struggle of both the GDR itself and the Soviet Union for the reunification of Germany on a peaceloving and democratic basis." Ulbricht's remarks had been widely hailed and analyzed in the East German press, but the CPSU Presidium recommended that Ulbricht take all necessary steps to prevent his "harmful" statements from being mentioned again. The Presidium also rebuked Yudin, who had seen the text of Ulbricht's speech in advance and had not raised any objections. The Presidium ruled that Yudin had "committed an egregious error" by not keeping a tighter hold on Ulbricht and by failing to consult Molotov or other Soviet leaders about such an important matter. 60

With regard to the refugee issue, the CPSU Presidium ordered the SKKG to prepare a memorandum as soon as possible "on the reasons for the departure of people from the German Democratic Republic to West Germany and on proposals to end this exodus." 61 The memorandum was intended as a follow-up to a detailed report on "The Economic and Political Situation in the German Democratic Republic," which the SKKG had sent to the Presidium on 15 March. The new memorandum, transmitted to Moscow on 18 May, made clear that the situation had deteriorated a good deal since March and that the East German authorities had "failed to appreciate the political significance of the flight of the population from the GDR to West Germany." 62 The report laid out thirty-one economic, administrative, and political "measures that would be worth recommending to the GDR leadership" to help "stop the exodus of the population to West Germany." Of those thirty-one proposals, however, few were of any real consequence. The SKKG's recommendations for administrative and political steps were aimed primarily at imposing stricter controls and punishments, rather than loosening the GDR's Stalinist system. The SKKG's economic proposals were somewhat bolder, and many were subsequently adopted, but most of them were of limited scope. Taken together, the thirty-one recommended measures would have resulted in only a modest adjustment of orthodox policies in East Germany, not a shift to a fundamentally new approach. Although the memorandum was valuable in highlighting the scale of the refugee problem, Molotov and other Soviet leaders were already moving well beyond the [End Page 25] SKKG's recommendations. At the top levels in Moscow, the growing perception was that far-reaching political and economic liberalization would be the only means of forestalling instability in East-Central Europe.

When the CPSU Presidium next met, on 20 May, the latest SKKG memorandum had already been distributed. The session was devoted mainly to domestic matters, but the agenda eventually turned to the question of East Germany. The participants approved Molotov's recommendation to curb the obtrusiveness of the Soviet presence in the GDR by converting the SKKG into a "Soviet High Commission in Germany" (SVKG). 63 The new body, as formally set up by the Soviet government on 27 May, was supposed to have a smaller staff than the SKKG and was supposed to be less conspicuous. The CPSU Presidium also endorsed a proposal by Beria to "reorganize the apparatus of the USSR MVD's chief representative in the German Democratic Republic," which was part of a larger reorganization of the Soviet MVD's stations abroad. 64 Although one of Beria's motivations may have been to bring in new officials who would be loyal to him, the proposed restructuring in the GDR was intended mainly to reduce the heavy-handed nature of the Soviet security and intelligence presence in East Germany and to transfer greater responsibility to the GDR's own security organs. 65 The reorganization of the Soviet MVD apparatus in East Germany had a number of unintended consequences (as discussed in Part 2 of this article), which were later blamed solely on Beria, but in fact the decision to proceed with the reorganization was endorsed by the full CPSU Presidium.

These efforts to eliminate the most blatant manifestations of Soviet control over the GDR did not imply, however, that Soviet leaders were willing to let Ulbricht ignore their calls for reform. On the contrary, all the participants at the CPSU Presidium meeting on 20 May expressed continued dissatisfaction with Ulbricht's performance, citing as an illustration the grandiose festivities he was busy arranging for his sixtieth birthday on 30 June. A proposal to hold the celebrations "with great official fanfare" had been approved at a plenum [End Page 26] of the SED Central Committee (led by Ulbricht) on 13 and 14 May, but a few senior SED officials, especially Fred Oelssner, had complained privately to Soviet leaders that the plans were indicative of Ulbricht's "tendency to create a lavish aura around his own personality." 66 The CPSU Presidium instructed a high-ranking CPSU official, Mikhail Suslov, to discuss the matter with Wilhelm Pieck, a long-time member of the SED Politbüro who was still thought to have great sway with Ulbricht. At Suslov's behest, Pieck warned Ulbricht about the "undesirability of such elaborate celebrations," but Ulbricht merely responded that he knew nothing about any plans for a party (even though his wife was the head of the organizing committee) and that if something was being prepared, he himself had no part in it. 67 Pieck promptly reported back to Suslov on the disappointing results of the conversation.

This episode heightened Soviet concerns about Ulbricht's capacity to move in a new direction, and it helped spur a number of attempts by the SED Politbüro to get rid of the party leader. 68 A preliminary attempt, during an extended session of the East German Politbüro in early June 1953, was clearly effected with Moscow's implicit backing. Key members of the SED Politbüro denounced Ulbricht's record and sought to remove him as General Secretary, but he was able to fend off their challenge on procedural grounds, as discussed below. Ulbricht was less successful in countering his rivals at the opening meeting of an SED Politbüro commission two weeks later, on 25 June. Soviet officials who attended the meeting had already called for Ulbricht's removal, and his fate appeared sealed. However, by the time the final move against Ulbricht was due to occur, on 24 July, the political climate in Moscow had drastically changed and Soviet leaders were no longer willing to endorse such a step. As a result, Ulbricht ended up keeping his post. If a decisive attempt to remove him had come earlier--in May or June--it almost certainly would have been welcomed in Moscow.

The Soviet authorities' mounting reservations about Ulbricht in the spring of 1953 were evident at an expanded meeting of the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers on 27 May, the day after a CPSU Presidium meeting. The assembled leaders (including Khrushchev, who was not actually a member of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers) focused on what the Soviet Union should do about the "enormous dissatisfaction and anger in the GDR [that] [End Page 27] have caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee to the West." 69 The participants discussed the "severe weaknesses" of the East German state and acknowledged that "the presence of Soviet troops is the only thing enabling the current regime in the GDR to survive." 70 They also acknowledged that even with the presence of Soviet troops, the East German state would soon be in danger of collapse unless the SED took drastic steps to rectify its "gravely mistaken political line" and its "unacceptably simplistic and rash policies." 71 All the participants agreed that the Soviet Union would have to take much stronger steps to prod the East German authorities into action. A commission consisting of Molotov, Beria, and Malenkov was assigned the task of preparing a document on behalf of the full Soviet leadership that would lay out a New Course of sweeping political and economic reform for East Germany. 72

Over the next few days, Molotov and Beria worked closely together to compile the final draft. Molotov later recalled that he and Beria had quickly agreed on specific language when they spoke by phone and that Malenkov, [End Page 28] too, was willing to go along with the text approved by Molotov and Beria. 73 Molotov's recollections are not always reliable, but this particular observation is borne out by the marked-up drafts and final version of the top secret document, which were recently released from the Russian foreign ministry and presidential archives, respectively. These materials show that Molotov did the bulk of the work and was responsible for language that charted a radical change of direction for East Germany. 74 Molotov's detailed suggestions were incorporated into preliminary versions of two separate documents drafted by Vladimir Semyonov, the newly appointed Soviet high commissioner in East Germany, who had been summoned back to Moscow in late May to aid in the preparations. Once Semyonov had completed the initial revisions and drafted new portions of text to reflect additional comments from Molotov, the foreign minister and Beria went back over the revised drafts and compressed them into one. The resulting document, "On Measures to Improve the Political Situation in the GDR," underwent further minor editing on 1 and 2 June and was then submitted jointly by Molotov, Beria, and Malenkov to the full Presidium of the Council of Ministers, which formally approved it on 2 June. 75

The final document, as endorsed by the entire Soviet leadership, provided a dire assessment of conditions in the GDR and strong criticisms of Ulbricht's performance (though without mentioning him by name). It also outlined a comprehensive New Course for East Germany, which Soviet leaders clearly were expecting the SED to adopt immediately, with or without Ulbricht. On a more conciliatory note, the document pledged that the Soviet Union would "provide necessary economic assistance to the GDR" once the New Course was firmly under way, and it promised that Soviet political and military officials in the GDR would "take prompt measures to eliminate the shortcomings of the occupation regime maintained by Soviet troops in [East] Germany." This latter provision was intended as a follow-up to the Soviet [End Page 29] government's resolution of 27 May approving the conversion of the SKKG into a smaller SVKG, as decided earlier by the CPSU Presidium. The formation of the SVKG was publicly announced on 28 May. 76

Along with these specific proposals, the Molotov-Beria document strongly reaffirmed Moscow's broad commitment to the "unification of Germany on a peaceloving and democratic basis." The document emphasized that all decisions about the future political complexion of the GDR--including whether it should be socialist or nonsocialist--must "take strict account of the situation in the whole of Germany and the entire international scene, as well as the urgent conditions inside the GDR." The document stressed that Ulbricht's "propaganda about the need for the GDR's transition to socialism" was "incorrect" not only because it had "led to unacceptably simplistic and rash political and economic steps," but also because it had undercut Moscow's latest efforts to achieve German unification. The clear implication was that the fate of socialism in the GDR must be subordinated to the larger goal of German unity.

Although the Molotov-Beria document focused specifically on East Germany (where the urgency of the situation was deemed to be greatest), Soviet leaders had known for some time that conditions elsewhere in the region were nearly as bleak. If any doubts about that had existed earlier, the crisis in Plzen had dispelled them. Diplomatic and intelligence reports flowing into Moscow about the recent events in Czechoslovakia had bolstered Soviet leaders' concern that political stability throughout East-Central Europe was "markedly deteriorating and approaching a dangerous point." 77 The "stark and painful conclusions" they had drawn about East Germany seemed increasingly relevant to all the regimes in East-Central Europe.

Implementation of the Soviet Policy Consensus

The consensus in Moscow about the need for bold action in East-Central Europe set the tone for a series of top-secret meetings that Soviet leaders began holding with their East European counterparts in the first half of June. An initial set of conclaves, with three senior officials from East Germany (Walter Ulbricht, Otto Grotewohl, and Fred Oelssner), were held on 2 to 4 June; a second round of meetings, with a top-ranking delegation from Hungary, took place on 13, 14, and 16 June; and a third set of talks, with the General [End Page 30] Secretary of the Albanian Labor Party (ALP), Enver Hoxha, and his aides, was held on 15 June. Similar negotiations were planned for early to mid-July with Czechoslovak, Romanian, Polish, and Bulgarian leaders. At all the meetings in June, the Soviet participants expressed profound dissatisfaction with the existing situation in East-Central Europe and called for urgent remedial action. They made clear that their comments pertained "not just to [a single country], but to all the people's democracies." 78

Soviet-East German Talks and the SED's New Course

At the conclaves with the three East German officials, Soviet leaders demanded an immediate end to the stepped-up "Socialist Construction" program, arguing that "the pursuit of an incorrect political line in the German Democratic Republic has created an extremely unfavorable political and economic situation." 79 Although Malenkov, Molotov, and Beria took the lead in condemning the SED's "false course" and in warning that "a catastrophe will soon occur if corrective measures are not implemented," all the other members of the CPSU Presidium who participated--Khrushchev, Bulganin, Kaganovich, and Anastas Mikoyan--were also highly critical of the "German friends." 80 Malenkov and his colleagues acknowledged that the "Socialist Construction" program had only recently been "approved by the CPSU Central Committee," but they emphasized, both in their oral comments and in the written document they presented to the East German delegation, that the earlier Soviet position had been wrong and that the SED must adopt a New Course immediately. 81 Kaganovich admonished the East German leaders that mere "reform" would not be enough. What was needed in the GDR, he argued, was a "complete turnaround" and "revolution." 82

The asperity of the Soviet complaints was due in part to the intransigence that the East German authorities, especially Ulbricht, had recently shown. On several occasions in April and early May, Soviet officials had recommended that the GDR adopt a New Course, but the SED Central Committee and the East German Council of Ministers had done just the opposite when they approved [End Page 31] the stricter work quotas. 83 Ulbricht's hard-line speech commemorating Karl Marx's birthday on 5 May had caused particular anger in Moscow, prompting Molotov to inform Malenkov and Khrushchev that the speech "was not coordinated by the German friends with Moscow and does not correspond to the recommendations they received from the CPSU CC." 84 Faced with Ulbricht's obstructiveness, Soviet leaders decided to expound their concerns much more forcefully by giving a copy of the Molotov-Beria document to the East German delegation during the opening session on 2 June. The document was designed not only to explain why the GDR must adopt a New Course, but also to lay out, word for word, how the New Course should be announced.

Under this renewed pressure, the East German authorities had little choice but to reverse their earlier policies. Even before Ulbricht, Grotewohl, and Oelssner returned from Moscow to East Berlin, they sent an urgent telegram to the SED Central Committee apparatus ordering that all literature pertaining to the SED's Second Party Conference (the body that adopted the Construction of Socialism policy) be removed from bookstores and libraries. This directive was promptly transmitted to local party organizations throughout the GDR, spurring a frenzied withdrawal of books, pamphlets, and other publications, including some that were only marginally connected with the subject. 85 (In Leipzig, for example, all of Ulbricht's published works were taken off the shelves.) As soon as the three East German leaders returned to East Berlin, the SED Politbüro met almost continuously for five days, under the watchful supervision of Vladimir Semyonov. 86 Semyonov often had attended the SED's high-level deliberations in the past, and on 4 June he accompanied the East German delegation back to the GDR with explicit instructions to "take an active part in the [SED Politbüro's] meetings." 87 The [End Page 32] sessions of the East German Politbüro on 5 through 9 June focused initially on the talks in Moscow, but the participants soon expanded the discussion into a sustained critique of Ulbricht's leadership. Semyonov joined in the criticisms on 6 June and informed Ulbricht that the upcoming birthday celebrations would have to be canceled. 88 By 9 June, Ulbricht's colleagues were on the verge of ousting him, but he was temporarily able to thwart their efforts by refusing to convene a session of the SED Secretariat, which was the body formally empowered to replace him as General Secretary.

Despite this last-ditch maneuver, the attacks on Ulbricht's record had been so strong over the previous few days that his ouster seemed only a matter of time. Semyonov had warned Ulbricht on 9 June that he "must draw serious conclusions from the Politbüro's very well-founded criticism." Moreover, officials from the SVKG began approaching East German leaders to determine the likely public reaction if Ulbricht were dismissed. 89 All these developments had contributed to a growing sense among Ulbricht's colleagues that, as one member of the SED Politbüro, Hans Jendretzky, put it, "Ulbricht is now the party's General Secretary in name only; he has been deprived of his power to lead." 90

With Ulbricht in such a weakened position, the SED Politbüro was able to proceed relatively smoothly and expeditiously when it considered the proposed New Course. On two specific points, however, the discussion bogged down: the question of agricultural collectives and the question of German unification. One of Ulbricht's main rivals on the SED Politbüro, Rudolf Herrnstadt, who strongly supported the Soviet document, was nonetheless opposed to the idea of disbanding the agricultural collectives. His alternative proposal, leaving the collectives essentially intact, was adopted by the SED Politbüro despite general unease about the prospect of "deviating in any way from the resolution of the Soviet comrades." 91 On the question of East Germany's relationship with West Germany, several participants expressed misgivings about the overriding priority that Soviet leaders seemed to be giving to German unity at the expense of "socialist construction" in the GDR. The phrasing of the Soviet document was so troubling to some members of the SED Politbüro that it even prompted one of them, Friedrich Ebert, to ask, "Do we want socialism at all?" 92 [End Page 33] Ebert's answer was unequivocal--"Yes, we do want it, we want it more than anything else"--but the concerns he raised were indicative of the "pain that [numerous SED officials] felt upon reading the document." Others, however, including Herrnstadt, favored the strong emphasis given to German unity as a rationale for the New Course. They argued that the SED's earlier policies (from July 1952 on) had thwarted any progress in "resolving the German question." 93 Herrnstadt did not necessarily endorse the radical implications of the Soviet document--he himself still supported socialism in the GDR, albeit in a much more liberalized form--but he clearly agreed that "we cannot just hope that the German question will resolve itself somehow" in the absence of a decisive New Course.

The SED Politbüro concluded its deliberations by authorizing Herrnstadt to prepare a communiqué for the East German press. His draft hewed closely to the Soviet document, and it was approved on 10 June by Ulbricht, Grotewohl, Semyonov, and other SVKG officials. 94 Herrnstadt recommended that publication of the communiqué be deferred for two weeks so that the SED could gradually prepare the population, but Soviet officials were unwilling to brook any delay, evidently because they feared that Ulbricht might try to derail or dilute the New Course. Semyonov admonished Herrnstadt that "in fourteen days you may not have a state anymore," and he insisted that the communiqué be published the next day. 95

Accordingly, on 11 June the main SED daily, Neues Deutschland, published the communiqué at the top of its front page. The statement pledged that the East German authorities would rectify the "grave mistakes" (ernste Fehler) of recent years by adopting a liberal New Course, which would abolish forced collectivization, shift emphasis from heavy industry to consumer production, safeguard private enterprise, encourage free political debate and participation, restore "bourgeois" instructors and students to the schools from which they had been expelled, guarantee freedom of religion, rehabilitate the victims of political trials, and reaffirm the "great goal of German unity." 96 This sudden announcement, after a year of unrelenting austerity and oppression, came as a thunderbolt in East Germany. [End Page 34]

Soviet-Hungarian Talks and the Rise of Imre Nagy

The next round of Soviet negotiations--with top Hungarian officials on 13, 14, and 16 June--followed a similar pattern. 97 The purpose of the talks, as Soviet leaders explained early on, was to determine what had gone wrong in Hungary and what steps might be taken to remedy the problems:

We, as Communists, are all responsible for the state of things in Hungary. The Soviet Union bears joint responsibility for the type of regime that now exists in Hungary. If the CPSU provided incorrect advice in the past, we recognize that, and we are taking steps to fix it. . . . But the key thing is that we must jointly devise measures to correct [the Hungarian authorities' own] mistakes. 98

Once again, Malenkov, Beria, and Molotov were the most outspoken of the Soviet participants, but all the others, including Khrushchev, Bulganin, and Mikoyan, also expressed dismay at the situation in Hungary. Mátyás Rákosi, an avid Stalinist who had been serving as both Hungarian prime minister and first secretary of the Hungarian Workers' Party (Magyar Dolgozók Pártja, or MDP), came in for particularly scathing criticism. Malenkov and his colleagues said they were "deeply appalled" by Rákosi's "high-handed and domineering style" in office, which had led to countless "mistakes and crimes" and had "driven [Hungary] to the verge of a catastrophe." 99 They ordered the Hungarian leader to relinquish his post as prime minister and demanded that Hungary adopt a comprehensive New Course. They also indicated that Imre Nagy, one of the seven officials who had accompanied Rákosi to Moscow, would be the most suitable person to take over as prime minister. 100

Underlying all the Soviet complaints was a concern that violent unrest might soon break out in Hungary unless sweeping reforms were adopted. This concern loomed especially large after the recent crisis in Czechoslovakia. Conditions [End Page 35] in Hungary were even bleaker than in Czechoslovakia by mid-1953, as evidenced by the precipitous drop in living standards, severe disarray in the agricultural sector, skewed development of industry, and "intolerable" political repression (to use Molotov's phrase). From a variety of diplomatic and intelligence sources, Soviet leaders knew that "discontent among the [Hungarian] population is rapidly increasing." 101 The Soviet participants in the talks (especially Khrushchev and Malenkov) raised a few other, less salutary concerns, notably that the presence of too many Jews (rather than "real Hungarians") in the MDP leadership was sparking nationalist resentment. Overall, however, the discussions were intended mainly to highlight the "blatant excesses and mistakes [in Hungary] that must be corrected immediately." Molotov and Mikoyan warned the Hungarian delegation that a failure to "take drastic action right away" would be "dangerous and detrimental for Hungary" and would leave the country "on the road to a disaster"--a disaster much worse than the localized riots in Plzen. This same point was emphasized by Bulganin and Beria, who argued that

a catastrophe might already have occurred [in Hungary] were it not for the presence of the Soviet Army. . . . The Soviet Army is still in Hungary today, but it will not be there forever. That is why the [Hungarian] comrades must take steps to ensure that [their] regime is strong enough [to survive] on its own. 102

The withering criticism directed at Rákosi and his top aides brought immediate results. Rákosi offered a few meek comments in defense of his record, but he readily acknowledged that the Soviet complaints and accusations were "absolutely correct." After the first day of meetings, the Hungarian delegates compiled a preliminary list of reforms and personnel changes, which they gave to their Soviet counterparts for approval. The Soviet authorities responded with detailed "suggestions" for "revisions and further elaboration" of the document. Although Malenkov claimed that "we will not force Hungary to adopt the proposed measures," he and his colleagues emphasized that the measures recommended by the Soviet delegation would "meet all of Hungary's needs." 103 They also warned Rákosi that he would "self-destruct unless [he] helps rectify all [his] errors and abuses." For the time being, Rákosi seemed to take that warning to [End Page 36] heart, assuring his Soviet interlocutors that he had "learned [his] lesson and will do everything possible to correct [his] mistakes." 104

As soon as the Hungarian delegates returned to Budapest, they convened a meeting of the MDP Secretariat, which endorsed Moscow's recommendation that Nagy should replace Rákosi as prime minister (though Rákosi, as agreed, was to be permitted to remain party leader). Nagy's appointment was formally approved by the National Assembly (the revived parliament) on 4 July. The MDP Secretariat also decided on 17 June that "the mistakes committed by [Rákosi] must be revealed to the entire party and the public." 105 To this end, the Secretariat scheduled a special plenum of the MDP Central Leadership (as the party's Central Committee was then known) for late June to discuss the "grave mistakes" of the past and "the urgent steps that are being taken to correct them." Rákosi himself conceded, at a meeting of the MDP Politburo on 20 June, that "the mistakes highlighted by the discussions [in Moscow] are so great that we will be in danger of an extreme crisis if we do not eliminate them quickly and do not change course immediately." 106 Against this backdrop, Nagy's aides set to work devising a comprehensive political and economic reform program, which Nagy could present to the upcoming plenum of the Central Leadership. The reforms were designed to go well beyond the steps that Hungarian officials had proposed during the talks in Moscow.

Soviet-Albanian Talks and the ALP's New Course

The third set of negotiations that Soviet leaders held in the first half of June, with Enver Hoxha of Albania, was briefer than the talks with the East German and Hungarian authorities, but the tenor of the meeting was largely the same. 107 Khrushchev did not attend the meeting because of a scheduling conflict, but all the others who were present at the earlier talks took part in this session as well. When the meeting began, Hoxha was given a chance to speak, and he explained why Albania needed more aid from the Soviet Union. During his remarks, the Soviet participants made little effort to conceal their impatience. Hoxha therefore cut short his presentation, and the [End Page 37] discussion shifted to the main questions that Soviet leaders were interested in raising. Malenkov and Beria took the lead both in criticizing the Albanian regime and in calling for major reforms. The other Soviet delegates, especially Bulganin and Mikoyan, joined in the criticisms and the calls for drastic change, but a few "signs of discord [on the Soviet side] were quite clear," according to Hoxha's retrospective account. 108 Nevertheless, even if there were minor differences among the Soviet participants, these did not alter the basic message that a reversal of orthodox Stalinism was urgently needed.

In pressing for bold reforms, Soviet leaders were at least indirectly supporting two of Hoxha's erstwhile rivals on the ALP Politburo, Tuk Jakova and Bedri Spahiu. Well before Stalin's death, Jakova and Spahiu had been advocating a number of significant political and economic reforms. Hoxha managed to remove both of them from the Politburo in 1951, but they kept their ministerial posts and remained on the ALP Central Committee, where they continued to pose a serious challenge to Hoxha. From March 1953 on, Jakova and Spahiu openly called for the adoption of a New Course in Albania, which would end forced collectivization, slow down the pace of industrialization, shift emphasis from heavy to light industry, ease restrictions on religious practice, and modify other facets of Albania's rigidly Stalinist system. Their proposals, modeled after the reforms that Malenkov had been implementing in the Soviet Union in the spring of 1953, had run into stiff resistance from Hoxha, as Soviet leaders were well aware. Hence, the discussions in Moscow were intended to push Hoxha into taking steps that he would have been unwilling to initiate on his own.

Soviet opinions about what should be done in Albania were bound to carry enormous weight. In 1953, the ALP was still one of the most subservient Communist parties in East-Central Europe, in part because Albania was totally dependent on the Soviet Union for protection against Yugoslavia. The leaders of the ALP regularly sought approval from the Soviet ambassador in Tirana for a host of internal matters (e.g., the scheduling of plenary sessions of the ALP Central Committee), and the Albanian government relied on hundreds of Soviet "specialists" and "advisers" to assist in economic planning, internal security, defense policy, public administration, agriculture, and other areas. 109 To be sure, the relationship was not always free of tension. The contingent [End Page 38] of Soviet personnel in Albania was so large, and their conduct was at times so "unsavory" (according to official complaints), that it caused friction with local residents and occasional instances of "coarse and tactless behavior" on the part of lower-level Albanian authorities. 110 Despite these problems, Hoxha himself had always been unswervingly loyal to the CPSU, and he was fully cognizant of Albania's (and his own) desperate need for Soviet aid. 111 Hence, he invariably did his best to allay Soviet complaints and to uphold the Soviet "model of socialism."

Viewed in this light, it is not surprising that as soon as Hoxha returned to Tirana, he directed Albanian officials to begin translating the Soviet "recommendations" into concrete policies. Although Hoxha previously had been averse to any hint of reform, he reluctantly acquiesced in the planning for a New Course, including a modest shift toward collective leadership. Until mid-1953, Hoxha had been serving simultaneously as prime minister, internal affairs minister, foreign minister, defense minister, and ALP general secretary. After the talks in Moscow, he agreed to relinquish his foreign and defense ministerial posts, a step he formally took in July 1953. 112 This gesture may have seemed trivial compared to the leadership rotations in other East-bloc countries, but by the standards of Albanian politics it was an important step forward, especially when combined with the plans then under way in Tirana for sweeping economic and political reforms. <

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Throughout the three sets of bilateral talks in June 1953, Soviet leaders still treated the Soviet-East European relationship as one of "dominance," with the [End Page 39] Soviet Union free to dictate policies and personnel changes as it pleased. 113 The Soviet participants seemed to have almost no interest in listening to what any of the East-Central European delegates had to say unless it conformed precisely with Moscow's wishes. Still, the very fact that Soviet leaders were urging the adoption of reformist New Courses implied that a transition to a looser (i.e., "hegemonic") relationship would eventually be possible. Beria explicitly raised this point during the negotiations with Hungarian officials:

Up to now, our relations [with the East-Central European countries] have not been the proper kind of relationship, and this has led to adverse results. The relationship up to now has consisted of celebratory meetings and applause. In the future we will establish a new kind of relationship: a more serious and responsible relationship. 114

The notion of establishing a "more serious and responsible relationship" would have been utterly fanciful only a few months earlier; but the impetus for change in Soviet policy vis-a÷÷-vis East-Central Europe was so strong by mid-1953 that a transition from "dominance" to "hegemony" no longer seemed implausible. Indeed, the transition might have proceeded swiftly and smoothly if events in East Germany and Moscow in the second half of June 1953 had not suddenly intervened.

The East German Uprising and the Soviet Response

Contrary to Soviet hopes, the violent turmoil in Plzen did not prove to be an aberration. Unrest in East Germany continued to mount despite the SED's proclamation of a New Course. The announcement on 11 June, far from helping the situation, seemed only to have made things worse. A secret report prepared by the SED Central Committee apparatus in mid-1953 conceded that "when the communiqué was published, a large proportion of workers regarded it as a sign of weakness and even impotence on the part of the SED and the government." 115 Any benefits the East German authorities had hoped to gain from the announcement were nullified by their decision to retain the increased [End Page 40] work norms. The retention of the higher norms was motivated primarily by the government's desire to shore up industrial production figures in the face of dwindling state revenues. 116 Whatever the economic rationale may have been, the failure to revoke the new work quotas proved politically disastrous. Coming at the very moment when East German citizens were beginning to sense how vulnerable the regime actually was, the decision caused pent-up anger and dissatisfaction in the GDR to spill into the open. Several leading SED officials, particularly Rudolf Herrnstadt, tried to allay popular discontent by declaring, both publicly and privately, that the increased work quotas should be rescinded immediately, but their statements were contradicted by other East German officials who wanted to keep the higher norms. 117

The disarray at top levels was compounded by the "disbelief," "panic," "shock," and "hopelessness" that many middle- and lower-ranking SED officials felt when they first saw the announcement in Neues Deutschland. 118 Secret reports from local and regional party secretaries to Karl Schirdewan, a senior SED official responsible for organizational matters, revealed that a large number of party activists were unable to "comprehend how the Party leadership could have committed such egregious mistakes that would have necessitated this decision" to reverse course. 119 Some SED officials were so dispirited that they renounced their party membership, and many others called for the resignation of top party leaders. Within the broader society, too, the SED's abrupt change of policy caused widespread confusion. Many employees of collectivized farms suspected that the regime would forsake their collectives in favor of private landowners who were suddenly being encouraged to return. Turmoil and a large-scale exodus ensued in the countryside, [End Page 41] forcing the East German authorities to take emergency measures to stave off a collapse of agricultural production. 120

At the same time that these problems were emerging in rural areas, the situation in East German cities also was rapidly deteriorating. Emboldened by the sudden announcement of a New Course, blue-collar workers stepped up their demand for a revocation of the higher work norms. Some even began to speak openly about the need to replace top SED officials and form a new government. On 13 June, the SED Politbüro tried to head off further discussion of the matter by voting once again to retain the higher norms, but the Politbüro's actions were no longer viewed with the deference they had been accorded in the past. Groups of construction workers from East Berlin began drafting a message on 13 June to Prime Minister Grotewohl calling for the increases to be repealed and asking that he "address their grave concerns immediately in a satisfactory manner." A delegation of workers presented the resolution to two of Grotewohl's chief aides on 15 June, warning that they "expected to hear back [from Grotewohl] no later than noon tomorrow." 121 That same day, workers throughout East Germany received their first paychecks under the new output regime, which brought a reduction of 25 to 30 percent or more in net pay for those who failed to meet the higher targets. This stark reminder of the new work norms prompted many construction workers to go out on strike right away, without waiting for Grotewohl's response. Grotewohl's aides were aware of the growing anger among construction workers, but they advised him not to accede to the workers' demands. 122 The prime minister went along with their recommendation and ordered a few union officials and agitators to persuade the workers that the increased norms were necessary. He declined to meet with the petitioners himself.

Grotewohl's fateful decision was conveyed to workers at a hospital construction site in the Friedrichshain district of East Berlin early the next day (16 June). By then, most of the construction workers had seen an article in that morning's issue of the East German trade union daily Tribüne, which, while conceding that the new output quotas had resulted in some "blatant" and "outrageous" abuses by factory managers, insisted that the government's decree of [End Page 42] 28 May was still "entirely valid." 123 This article, combined with the news that Grotewohl would not be appearing as requested, inspired workers at the Block 40 construction site on Stalinallee to begin a protest march. Initially, the demonstrators merely called for the increased work norms to be rescinded, but the protests quickly expanded, both in size and in scope, after unfounded rumors spread that the Friedrichshain hospital workers had been arrested. Construction workers from all over East Berlin and many ordinary citizens joined the Block 40 and Friedrichshain workers, transforming the march into a mass demonstration. Many of the participants openly voiced political grievances and held banners that denounced the government, called for free elections, opposed the creation of an East German army (Nationale Volksarmee), supported the formation of non-Communist parties, and demanded that the East German population be treated as "free people, not slaves." 124

By mid-morning, several thousand protesters had gathered at the East German Council of Ministers building on Leipzigerstrasse, where they demanded to speak with Ulbricht and Grotewohl. Neither of the East German leaders was actually present, however. Both were at the party's main headquarters in the Berlin House of Unity, where the SED Politbüro had just convened for its regular Tuesday meeting. (Semyonov, as usual, was taking part in the meeting.) After failing to get a response to their demands, the protesters headed off in the direction of the main SED building. A Soviet intelligence officer who was monitoring the situation noted, in an urgent cable to Moscow, that "passersby and local residents voiced their approval of the marchers all along the way." 125

When a senior aide to Hans Jendretzky, one of the members of the SED Politbüro, learned that a large-scale demonstration was under way, he hurried to the party headquarters to inform Jendretzky and the others. 126 Ulbricht and several of his colleagues were extremely reluctant to give in to the strikers' demands, but under growing pressure the SED Politbüro finally voted to do away with the increased work quotas. 127 This gesture, however, came much too late to have a positive effect. The confusing wording of the Politbüro's resolution [End Page 43] caused many workers to suspect that the authorities would soon try to restore the higher norms. 128 Moreover, even when the workers realized that they had won a major concession, it merely reinforced their sense of the regime's growing vulnerability. The demands of the protesters escalated and became more overtly political. Many of the demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at the giant monument to Stalin in central Berlin and called for the government to resign. The dynamic of the situation corresponded well with Alexis de Tocqueville's observation about the emergence of revolutionary ferment:

It is not always when things are going from bad to worse that revolutions occur. It more often happens that when people who have long endured an oppressive regime without complaint suddenly find it relaxing its pressure, they rise up against it. . . . A grievance is patiently endured so long as it seems permanent, but it comes to appear intolerable once the thought of removing it arises. 129

The decision to revoke the higher work quotas had momentous consequences not only for the demonstrators, but for the Communist Party itself. This latest change of policy by the SED leadership, so soon after the abrupt announcement of a New Course, came as a further blow to the morale of many senior and middle-ranking party officials, who up to that point had been doing their best to defend the increased work norms. The confusion and uncertainty that resulted wore away at the party's internal consensus about the desirability of maintaining SED supremacy. The surge of diffidence within the SED greatly magnified the potential for upheaval in East Germany, for as Crane Brinton's classic study of revolution showed, "a ruling class jeopardizes its rule . . . when numerous and influential members of the class begin to believe that they hold power unjustly, [and] that the beliefs they were brought up on are silly." 130 The sudden loss of these long-cherished beliefs, Brinton argued, was bound to deprive the ruling class of "the ability to make adequate use of its military and police powers" against those who were challenging the status quo.

The East German regime's loss of will quickly became apparent both to the demonstrators and to countless other East Germans who had not been involved in the initial strikes. Even many party members began turning against the regime and siding with the protesters on the grounds that no one should "just stand on the sidelines." 131 Emboldened by the SED's growing feebleness, the [End Page 44] leaders of the march commandeered a loudspeaker van and used it to broadcast calls for a general strike and protest rally on the 17th, beginning at 7:00 a.m. 132 A large group of young people spread around the city urging support for the general strike. These various exhortations enabled workers to realize that mass actions in the capital would be continuing. The main protest march ended at around 6:30 p.m., but large crowds remained at many points around the city, demanding that the leaders of the SED resign. Although most of the demonstrators eventually returned home on the evening of the 16th, they were determined to resume and expand their activities the following day. For the first time since 1945, East Germans were eager to vent long-standing grievances in public, blaming the SED for "turning us into slaves" and "keeping Germany divided" under Soviet domination. 133 Popular defiance rapidly increased, culminating in a full-scale rebellion throughout East Germany on the 17th.

Response of the East German Leadership

Coming at a time of profound uncertainty and leadership instability in both Moscow and East Berlin, the uprising in the GDR threatened the very existence of the SED regime and, by extension, vital Soviet interests in Germany. 134 Newly released documents and memoirs confirm that Soviet diplomats, intelligence officials, and political leaders were startled by the [End Page 45] large-scale protests in East Germany on 16 June and that initially they counseled against a forceful response by the East German security organs, for fear of provoking wider violence. 135 Although Soviet MVD officers later complained that the East German authorities had "underestimated the seriousness of the rapidly changing situation [on 16 June] and had failed to adopt the tough, punitive measures that were needed," these problems clearly were exacerbated by the Soviet Union's own hesitant response early on, which had reinforced the sense of high-level paralysis in East Berlin. 136 As a result, the East German People's Police (Volkspolizei) arrested only about two dozen protesters on 16 June. A Soviet official who was monitoring the demonstrations reported to Moscow that "not a single member of the Volkspolizei showed up during the [protest] march [on the 16th]. Even the traffic police deserted their posts as soon as the first marchers approached." 137

By the evening of the 16th, however, all the top East German leaders, particularly Ulbricht and Grotewohl, expected "much larger disturbances to occur [in East Berlin] on the morning of 17 June." 138 When Ulbricht, Grotewohl, and the East German state security minister, Wilhelm Zaisser, went to the SVKG's headquarters in Karlshorst (on the outskirts of Berlin) that evening, they warned Semyonov that "the disorders today [on 16 June] are only the start of an organized campaign." 139 The three East German officials indicated that Zaisser had been given responsibility for "setting up street patrols in areas where disturbances have broken out and fortifying the protective guard around the most important sites in the city." 140 To this end, Zaisser brought eleven hundred heavily armed paramilitary troops (Kasernierte Volkspolizei, or KVP) and two thousand State Security (Staatssicherheit, or Stasi) anti-riot forces from Potsdam, Oranienburg, and other outlying cities into East Berlin as reinforcements. He also worked closely with the SED's Berlin municipal committee to "mobilize party and youth activists who can help the organs of authority maintain public order." 141 [End Page 46]

The extent of these preparations, as revealed in newly declassified materials, belies the widespread notion that East German leaders were caught totally unawares by the outbreak of mass protests in East Berlin on 17 June. On the contrary, their warnings and forebodings about what would happen in East Berlin on the 17th turned out to be largely accurate.

What the East German authorities failed to anticipate, however, is that destabilizing unrest would engulf the whole of the GDR, not just East Berlin. Most of the top leaders had convinced themselves that the strikes and protests on 16 June were instigated by "hostile imperialist forces" from West Berlin and that by implementing extra security precautions in East Berlin, they could contain and stamp out the disturbances. If Ulbricht and his colleagues had foreseen that violent turmoil would erupt all over the GDR on 17 June, they never would have authorized the removal of KVP and Stasi units from key cities on the evening of the 16th. Nor would they have summoned regional and municipal party first secretaries and senior economic advisers to East Berlin on the 16th to discuss specific aspects of the New Course. The presence of these officials in the capital on 16 and 17 June meant that key positions in other cities and regions of the GDR were left unattended when the critical moment came. 142

The East German leadership's obliviousness to the explosive situation outside East Berlin was further evidenced by Ulbricht's remarks at a conference of Berlin party activists (parteiaktiv) on the evening of 16 June, which had been arranged two days earlier to discuss the New Course. Despite the turmoil that was still under way when the meeting began, neither Ulbricht nor Grotewohl made more than a passing reference to the day's events. Although Ulbricht conceded that the SED had "committed mistakes in the past," he emphasized that workers' dissatisfaction in the GDR had been deliberately stirred up by "provocateurs from West Berlin." 143 Rather than ordering party officials throughout the GDR to alleviate workers' grievances, Ulbricht assured the conference that a propaganda campaign in East Berlin alone, combined with a determined effort to "unmask West Berlin subversives," would be enough to mollify angry workers and prevent further "disorders orchestrated from West Berlin." [End Page 47]

Ulbricht's preoccupation with East Berlin and the SED's utter lack of preparedness for disturbances outside the capital proved fatal on 17 June. Branch organs of the Stasi in outlying cities, including major cities like Dresden, where protests and strikes had erupted on 16 June, received no guidance about how to deal with the unrest until long after the uprising had begun. 144 In many areas, notably in Magdeburg and Görlitz, public order broke down altogether.

Even in the capital, East German leaders were unable to cope with the full-fledged rebellion on the 17th. As the magnitude of the unrest became clear, the authorities warned police and state security units in East Berlin and most other parts of the country not to open fire on unarmed demonstrators. These orders, far from being based on any moral considerations, were purely a matter of expediency. The vast scale of the protests caused Ulbricht to fear--with good reason, as events showed--that Volkspolizei, KVP, and Stasi troops might disobey orders to shoot at their fellow Germans. 145 In a few isolated cases, orders to use force did go out; in Halle, for example, Fred Oelssner authorized the Volkspolizei to open fire, and at least six people were shot. 146 In the large majority of cities, however, the police and security forces did not open fire. As a result, they were quickly overwhelmed by the demonstrations and were unable to prevent angry crowds from occupying or burning down key government and party facilities. 147 So great was the ensuing turmoil that many Volkspolizei, KVP, and Stasi personnel either joined in the demonstrations or deserted their posts, as Soviet officials later noted with dismay:

During the June events in the GDR, many of the police [both KVP and Volkspolizei] fled to the West. For example, in one unit assigned to patrol the border in Berlin, some 32 individuals fled. . . . Numerous active-duty police were intent on going over to the side of the provocateurs. During the events of 17-19 June many police, [End Page 48] including officers, displayed timidity, hesitation, and cowardice. There were many cases of police and officers who, while on leave, took part in the demonstrations by strikers. . . . The unsavory political atmosphere among the active-duty police was further evidenced by a large number of hostile statements. [Members of the KVP and Volkspolizei] engaged in malevolent diatribes against the USSR, the GDR, and other [East-bloc] countries. 148

Without an effective security backup, local party and government officials had to flee or stand helplessly by while protesters stormed their facilities. In many cities, entire complexes of buildings were taken over by the demonstrators without the slightest response from the police and security forces.

Nor were the security organs the only component of the regime that proved unreliable. New evidence shows that scores of SED and government officials in East Berlin and many other cities, as well as most members of the party's youth organization (the Freie Deutsche Jungend, or FDJ), actively sided with the rebels. An urgent memorandum to the SED leadership from Anton Plenikowki of the SED Central Committee apparatus revealed that in most parts of the country--in Potsdam, Rathenow, Brandenburg, Magdeburg, Rostock, Görlitz, Wernigerode, and numerous other areas--a large number of officials and, in some cases, entire municipal councils were taking part in the demonstrations and "assisting the fascist bandits and provocateurs." 149 That finding was echoed by the chief Soviet MVD representative in East Germany, Colonel Ivan Fadeikin, in a secret cable to Moscow. Fadeikin stressed that the complaints voiced by SED officials who turned against the regime were remarkably similar to the grievances of the wider population:

Based on information coming in from clandestine and official sources, it is clear that certain members of the SED have taken an active part in the work stoppages and strikes. Interrogations of SED members who were arrested indicate that many of them were upset about the decline in workers' living standards. They cited the SED CC Politbüro's acknowledgment of its mistakes, published in the press, as corroboration of their arguments. 150 [End Page 49]

Fadeikin also noted that local party officials were leaving the SED en masse. In the Cottbus district alone, he wrote, more than one hundred officials had renounced their party membership on the 16th and 17th.

Even more disturbing, from Moscow's perspective, was Fadeikin's report that a substantial number of higher-level officials in the SED had endorsed the calls for "hostile action" against the East German regime. Fadeikin claimed that "officials of the GDR government and the SED Central Committee displayed cowardice and lost their nerve" on the 17th and that "the strike committees at enterprises in the GDR were being organized and led by top officials from the [SED-dominated] trade unions." 151 The same phenomenon was noted by a Soviet correspondent in East Berlin, who informed the Soviet authorities that "leading SED activists and stalwarts" were helping the protesters and that a large number of senior SED officials had "behaved with sheer cowardice during the unrest." 152

The Soviet Response

By the time the SED Politbüro met on 17 June in an emergency session at 10:00 A.M., the uprising was spinning out of control. Shortly after the meeting began, Semyonov ordered the East German leaders to reconvene in Karlshorst, where they could attempt to resolve the crisis under Soviet auspices. 153 (Semyonov also wanted to ensure that SED Politbüro members would not be left in a building that might be seized by the demonstrators. The SED headquarters in downtown Berlin was far more vulnerable than the SVKG facilities in Karlshorst. A division of Soviet troops had been redeployed to Karlshorst in the early morning hours of the 17th to afford extra protection for the SVKG.) At Semyonov's behest, three SED Politbüro members (Hermann Matern, Fred Oelssner, and Elli Schmidt) were dispatched from Karlshorst to key areas of the GDR to help local officials quell the unrest. Hans Jendretzky and Friedrich Ebert were ordered to return to East Berlin, while Ulbricht, Grotewohl, Zaisser, and Herrnstadt were to remain in Karlshorst. Although the East German authorities were still nominally in charge of the country, effective control had passed to the SVKG. Semyonov acknowledged as much when he informed the East German leaders that radio stations in West Berlin were "claiming there is no longer any government in the GDR." Turning to his Soviet colleagues, Semyonov remarked (loudly enough for the East Germans to hear) that "these claims are largely true." 154 [End Page 50]

Semyonov's criticisms of the East German authorities for their failure to prevent the uprising were almost certainly intended, in part, to gloss over his own misjudgments during the previous week. Until the 17th, Soviet officials in East Germany had severely underestimated the scale of the emerging unrest. Even on the evening of 16 June, when Ulbricht, Grotewohl, and Zaisser had warned Semyonov that "much larger disturbances" were likely to occur in East Berlin the following day, Soviet military preparations had remained deliberately low-key. That evening, the commander in chief of the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany (GSOVG), Colonel-General Andrei Grechko, assumed direct command of all Soviet troops in Berlin, including units from the Soviet MVD, but this step was intended mainly as a precaution rather than as a prelude to military action. 155 Under the terms of occupation, which empowered the commander in chief of the GSOVG to adopt whatever measures were needed to prevent a threat to his troops, Grechko could have ordered Soviet forces in the GDR to seize control of the country's transportation and communications networks and other important sites as soon as the first disturbances erupted on the morning of 16 June. 156 Rather than invoke this provision, however, Grechko waited until he received a formal request from the East German authorities on the evening of the 16th. Even then, Grechko did only the minimum needed to fulfill the request. He dispatched a small contingent of Soviet troops, numbering roughly 450, to help protect key facilities in East Berlin (communications centers, bridges, SED buildings, railway stations, etc.) and to begin military patrols in areas where protests had broken out. This token deployment was of little concrete significance, and even the symbolic value of the move was limited. Grechko reported back to Moscow that he had "arranged with the [East German leadership] that public order [was] to be upheld [solely] by the [East] German Volkspolizei forces, and that Soviet troops would not actively take part in the maintenance of public order unless an extreme emergency arose." 157 Thus even at this late date, Soviet officials clearly were hoping that the East German regime could handle the crisis on its own. [End Page 51]

By the morning of the 17th, however, as the rebellion spread to more than 450 towns around the country and the total number of participants rose well above half a million (roughly 10 percent of the adult population in the GDR), a cautious approach was no longer tenable. 158 The East German regime was on the verge of collapse, and Soviet vehicles and buildings in the GDR were coming under threat or, in some cases, being attacked. An urgent dispatch from the chief Soviet intelligence officer in East Germany warned that the East German police and security forces "are unable to maintain order" and that "the demonstrators are now convinced that the authorities will not dare to use force against them because Berlin is under four-power control. They believe that if military force is used, Western tanks will come to their aid." 159 Once the gravity of the situation had become apparent in Moscow, the entire CPSU Presidium was determined to act as quickly as possible to restore order. None of the Presidium members questioned the desirability of using Soviet military forces in East Germany to deal with the emergency. 160 Their main concern was to ensure that Soviet troops would act promptly enough to keep the rebellion from spreading.

The decisiveness of the Soviet authorities' response on 17 June helped make up for their earlier vacillations. Despite the limited nature of Soviet military preparations on the 16th, Grechko was able to shift into action very quickly, in part because he did not have to wait for troops to be brought in from outside. Instead, he could rely on hundreds of thousands of combat-ready soldiers in the GSOVG who were more than sufficient to cope with the disorders. Grechko was assisted in directing the military operation by Marshal Leonid Govorov, a deputy Soviet defense minister, who was sent to East Berlin early on the 17th, apparently at Khrushchev's initiative. 161 A short while later, the chief of the Soviet General Staff, Marshal Vasilii Sokolovskii, who had commanded the GSOVG from 1946 to 1949, arrived at Karlshorst. [End Page 52] His presence in the GDR, as the highest-ranking Soviet military officer, was an indication of how seriously the authorities in Moscow regarded the crisis. Grechko received further assistance from a group of Soviet MVD officers led by General Sergei Goglidze, a deputy internal affairs minister responsible for military counterintelligence. Goglidze's delegation, including a substantial number of high-ranking intelligence personnel, had been dispatched to the GDR by Beria on 17 June to serve as a liaison with the East German Stasi and to provide support for Soviet military operations. 162

Grechko's initial concern was to ensure that Soviet tanks had sealed off the border with West Berlin. Once that task was under way, Grechko authorized the Soviet military commandant in East Berlin, Major-General A.V. Dibrova, to halt all civilian railway, road, and subway traffic from West Berlin and to proclaim a state of emergency (i.e., martial law) in the capital as of 1:00 p.m. 163 Even before martial law was imposed, Grechko ordered Soviet troop commanders throughout the GDR to crush the "fascist provocateurs and hooligan elements." 164 In line with this directive, two mechanized infantry divisions and a tank division from the GSOVG's Second Mechanized Army, numbering some six hundred tanks overall, entered East Berlin in a massive display of force. Outside the capital, heavily armed units from the GSOVG were sent into every large and medium-sized East German city (and even into many small towns) in what was by far the largest Soviet military operation since World War II. 165 All told, some seventeen tank and mechanized infantry divisions, supplemented by artillery, communications, and logistical regiments and battalions, were called into action.

Deployed in such overwhelming numbers, the GSOVG suppressed the rebellion rather quickly and with relatively little bloodshed. Soviet troops imposed martial law in nearly 85 percent of the cities and towns in East Germany on 17 June. 166 Although most of the GSOVG units were not trained for anti-riot or counterinsurgency operations, they were generally successful in relying on intimidation [End Page 53] rather than the direct use of force. A top secret U.S. intelligence report at the time noted that "the Soviet troops demonstrated a remarkable discipline, restraint, and cool-headedness [during the crisis], which came as a surprise to all, foremost to the East Germans." 167 In a few instances, notably at the Polizeipresidium building in East Berlin, Soviet tanks did open fire on unarmed demonstrators. (Some of the protesters at the Polizeipresidium building had thrown rocks and bottles at Soviet troops and had set East German police vehicles on fire, but none of the protesters there resorted to firearms.) In certain other cities, notably Magdeburg, Görlitz, and Leipzig, brief armed clashes took place between East German rebels and Soviet military forces. In the end, some thirty-nine demonstrators were killed (including six who were summarily "executed on the spot" by Soviet troops and another six who were sentenced to death by military tribunals), roughly two hundred were wounded, and many thousands were arrested. Almost all of the casualties occurred on the 17th. No Soviet troops at all were killed or seriously wounded during the crisis--an amazing result for such a large operation--and only seventeen East German officials (from the Stasi, KVP, Volkspolizei, and SED) were killed and 166 were wounded. 168

Despite the limited scale of the fighting, the intervention of the Soviet Army was crucial both in forestalling an escalation of the violence and in reasserting Soviet control. The East German security forces might have been able to cope with the situation on their own if they had been permitted to subdue the demonstrations at the very outset on 16 June, but the crisis had grown immeasurably larger after East German leaders panicked and Soviet officials initially cautioned against a full-scale crackdown. By the 17th, the scale of unrest was much too great for the East German Volkspolizei, KVP, and state security organs to handle without Soviet aid. 169 Indeed, even after Soviet troops intervened, order could not be fully restored in the GDR until at least the 20th.

The prominence of the GSOVG during the crisis underscored how thoroughly dependent the East German regime was on the Soviet Union. The highly unequal nature of the Soviet-GDR relationship was evident at all stages. When Ulbricht and his colleagues were at Karlshorst on the 17th, [End Page 54] Semyonov treated them with a degree of rudeness and condescension reminiscent of the Stalin era. 170 Among themselves, the East German leaders spoke resentfully about this treatment, but they refrained from complaining directly to Semyonov. Although most of the SED leaders returned to East Berlin on 18 June, the country remained under Grechko's and Semyonov's control.

The GDR's dependence on the Soviet Union was also reflected in basic aspects of internal security. At the height of the crisis on 17 June, Soviet MVD personnel in East Germany were given responsibility for arresting and imprisoning demonstrators. Large "operational groups" of Soviet MVD officers continued to function all around the GDR even after the rebellion was largely over. These groups helped the Stasi carry out arrests, interrogations, and "agent-operational work." 171 Not until most of the protests were crushed did Soviet officials allow the East German Stasi and Volkspolizei to regain some of the responsibility for arresting the "ringleaders and instigators of the revolt." On 18 and 19 June alone, the East German forces and Soviet MVD groups detained 1,744 people in East Berlin. The number of arrests throughout the country increased steadily over the next several days, reaching a single-day peak of 6,325 on the 23rd. 172 Despite Ulbricht's well-founded misgivings on the 17th about the feasibility of using KVP and Stasi troops for violent repression against unarmed crowds, Soviet MVD officials rightly assumed that once the main fighting was over, the East German security units would be reliable enough to assist with mass arrests.

Aside from that one function, however, the task of pacifying the country was left entirely to the GSOVG and the SVKG. Even when Grechko and Semyonov were ready to lift the state of emergency on 20 June, Ulbricht and Grotewohl urged that they wait. As a result, Soviet troops continued to enforce martial law for another three weeks.

(Part 2 will appear in the next issue.)


I would like to thank the Cold War International History Project, the National Security Archive, and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Studien for their sponsorship of a November 1996 conference in Potsdam on "The Crisis Year 1953 and the Cold War in Europe," which was of great benefit to me when revising this article.

Mark Kramer is the director of the Harvard Project on Cold War Studies and a senior associate of the Davis Center for Russian Studies, Harvard University.


1. Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979), pp. 71-73. For a convincing argument that structural realism need not exclude the analysis of foreign policy making and its domestic context, see Colin Elman, "Horses for Courses: Why Not Neo-Realist Theories of Foreign Policy?," Security Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Fall 1996), pp. 7-51, as well as the reply by Waltz, "International Politics Is Not Foreign Policy," Security Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Fall 1996), pp. 54--57, and a rejoinder by Elman, "Cause, Effect, and Consistency: A Response to Kenneth Waltz," Security Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Fall 1996), pp. 58-61.

2. The notion of a trade-off between "viability" and "cohesion" is well presented in James F. Brown, Relations between the Soviet Union and Its East European Allies: A Survey, R-1742-PR (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1975).

3. "Zapis' besedy s ministrom inostrannykh del ChSR V. Shirokii ot 22 dekabrya 1952 g.," Cable No. 1284 (Top Secret), 26 December 1952, from Soviet ambassador A. V. Bogomolov to Soviet foreign minister A. Ya. Vyshinskii, in Tsentr Khraneniya Sovremennoi Dokumentatsii (TsKhSD), Fond (F.) 5, Opis' (Op.) 22, Delo (D.) 988, Listy (Ll.) 7-9.

4. See, for example, "V Tsentral'nyi Komitet Kommunisticheskoi Partii Sovetskogo Soyuza" (Secret), 19 January 1953, from V. Ignat'ev to V.G. Grigor'yan, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, D. 988, Ll. 47-55; "Zapis' besedy s zaveduyushchim Mezhdunarodnym otdelom TsK KPCh Varamov ot 23 dekabrya 1952 goda," Cable No. 1281 (Secret), 26 December 1952, from D.K. Zvonkov, third secretary at the Soviet embassy in Prague, ibid., Ll. 13-14; and "Spravka o khode i okonchanii III goda partiinoi ucheby i o nachale 1952-1953 gg. partiinoi ucheby," Cable No. 4 (Top Secret), 5 January 1953, from I. Berezin, Soviet consul-general in Bratislava, ibid., Ll. 30-43.

5. "Otchet o prebyvanii v Vengrii Sovetskoi Profsoyuznoi Delegatsii, 25 fevralya-7 marta 1953 g." (Top Secret), March 1953, from P. Efanov to the CPSU Secretariat, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, D. 987, Ll. 15-24.

6. "Informatsionnaya zapiska o neblagopoluchnom polozhenii v rumynskikh raionakh, granichashchikh s titovskoi Yugoslaviei," Report No. 17742 (Top Secret), 13 March 1953, from V. Kirsanov to V.G. Grigor'yan, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, D. 986, Ll. 291-298.

7. The impact of the succession struggle on Soviet policy toward East-Central Europe has not yet been adequately explored. One of the most interesting analyses to date is a paper by Aleksei Filitov, "Perelomnyi 1953-yi: Dinamika peremen v mezhdunarodnoi i sovetskoi vneshnei politike," presented at a conference on "1953 and the Cold War," held in Potsdam in November 1996 under the auspices of the Cold War International History Project and the National Security Archive. Other works bearing on the topic include chapters by Nikolai Barsukov and Elena Zubkova in a forthcoming book edited by William Taubman, as well as a brief article by Yurii Aksyutin, "Pyatyi prem'er, ili Pochemu Malenkov ne uderzhal bremya vlasti," Rodina (Moscow), No. 5 (May 1994), pp. 81-88. Two other recent articles--Yu. N. Zhukov, "Bor'ba za vlast' v partiino-gosudarstvennykh verkhakh SSSR vesnoi 1953 goda," Voprosy istorii (Moscow), No. 5-6 (May-June 1996), pp. 39-57; and Boris Starkov, "100 dnei lubyanskogo marshala," Istochnik (Moscow), No. 4 (1993), pp. 82-90--are too unreliable and poorly documented to be of use.

8. "Protokol sovmestnogo zasedaniya Plenuma Tsentral'nogo Komiteta KPSS, Soveta Ministrov Soyuza SSR i Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR ot 4 marta 1953 goda" (Strictly Secret), 5 March 1953, in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 2, D. 196, Ll. 1-7. The appointments and transfers announced at this joint meeting had first been approved by the Bureau of the CPSU Presidium (the equivalent of what later was renamed the Politburo) on 4 and 5 March 1953. See "Vypiska iz protokola No. 13 zasedaniya Byuro Prezidiuma TsK ot 4-5 marta 1953 g.: O sovmestnom zasedanii Plenuma TsK KPSS, Soveta Ministrov SSSR i Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR," No. BP13/XIII (Strictly Secret), 5 March 1953, in Arkhiv Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii (APRF), F. 45, Op. 1, D. 1485, L. 13. Under the agreement, the Bureau of the CPSU Presidium was abolished, and the CPSU Presidium took over its responsibilities. The ten members of the CPSU Presidium are listed in the order presented at the joint meeting. (Stalin's name originally was listed first among the Presidium members, but it was removed when he died less than an hour after the conclusion of the joint meeting.) Because the listing is not alphabetical, it presumably represents some sort of pecking order.

9. "Postanovlenie Byuro Prezidiuma TsK KPSS ot 4-5 marta 1953 g. o dokumentakh i bumagakh tovarishcha Stalina I. V.," No. BP13/XIII (Strictly Secret), 5 March 1953, in APRF, F. 45, Op. 1, D. 1486, L. 136. See also "Postanovlenie sovmestnogo zasedaniya Plenuma TsK KPSS, Soveta Ministrov SSSR, Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR o dokumentakh i bumagakh Stalina I.V." (Strictly Secret), 5 March 1953, in APRF, F. 45, Op. 1, D. 1486, L. 145; and "Vypiska iz protokola No. 34 zasedaniya Prezidiuma TsK ot 18 sentyabrya 1953 g.: O materialakh lichnogo arkhiva Iosifa Vissarionovicha Stalina," No. P34/III (Strictly Secret), 19 September 1953, in APRF, F. 45, Op. 1, D. 1485, L. 109.

10. See the retrospective account by Dmitrii Shepilov, the editor in chief of Pravda in 1953 who later became Soviet foreign minister and a member of the CPSU Presidium: "Vospominaniya," Voprosy istorii (Moscow), No. 8 (August 1998), esp. pp. 11-12.

11. The Presidium of the Council of Ministers was an important collective decision-making body during the brief period when Malenkov was regarded as the top official in Moscow from March 1953 until early July 1953, but the CPSU Presidium (whose key members other than Khrushchev and Voroshilov were also on the Presidium of the Council of Ministers) remained the paramount organ in the USSR even after Malenkov was forced to relinquish his post as a CPSU secretary on 14 March and to cease chairing meetings of the CPSU Presidium and CPSU Secretariat soon thereafter. (Malenkov retained his membership on the CPSU Presidium until 1957.) The CPSU Presidium continued to decide issues that, in principle, should have been handled by the Soviet government, and it also continued to issue orders and directives to government ministries and agencies. The fact that the CPSU Presidium regained clear-cut supremacy over the Presidium of the Council of Ministers in the summer of 1953 was an adumbration of Khrushchev's eventual success in displacing Malenkov.

12. "Pokhorony Iosifa Vissarionovicha Stalina: Traurnyi miting na Krasnoi ploshchadi 9 marta 1953 goda," Pravda (Moscow), 10 March 1953, pp. 1-2. Malenkov's speech was printed in full on page 1. Beria's and Molotov's speeches were printed side by side on page 2. All three officials were identified solely by their positions on the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers. See also the declassified preparatory documents from the funeral organizing committee, chaired by Khrushchev, in APRF, F. 45, Op. 1, D. 1486, Ll. 148-202; and the account by a senior party official who attended the funeral, Nuriddin Mukhitdinov, Gody, provedennye v Kremle, 3 vols. (Tashkent: Izdatel'stvo Narodnogo Naslediya, 1994), Vol. 1 (O deyatel'nost; TsK KPSS i ego Politbyuro v 50-e gody), pp. 87-95..

13. For a brief but cogent firsthand assessment of Soviet policy during this period, see A.M. Aleksandrov-Agentov, Ot Kollontai do Gorbacheva: Vospominaniya diplomata, sovetnika A. A. Gromyko, pomoshchnika L.I. Brezhneva, Yu. V. Andropova, K.U. Chernenko, i M.S. Gorbacheva (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 1994), pp. 89-93.

14. Among recent analyses that play up supposed differences about East-Central Europe are Amy Knight, Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 176-200; Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 159-164; James G. Richter, Khrushchev's Double Bind: Domestic and Foreign Constraints on Soviet Foreign Policy, 1953-1964 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), esp. chap. 2; James G. Richter, "Reexamining Soviet Policy towards Germany in 1953," Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 45, No. 4 (1993), pp. 671-691; Gerhard Wettig, "Die beginnende Umorientierung der sowjetischen Deutschland-Politik im Frühjahr und Sommer 1953," Deutschland Archiv (Berlin), Vol. 28, No. 5 (May 1995), pp. 495-507; Gerhard Wettig, "Zum Stand der Forschung über Berijas Deutschland-Politik im Frühjahr 1953," Deutschland Archiv (Berlin), Vol. 26, No. 6 (June 1993), pp. 674-682; and Gerhard Wettig, "Sowjetische Wiedervereinigungsbemuhungen im ausgehenden Frühjahr 1953? Neue Aufschlusse über ein altes Problem," Deutschland Archiv (Berlin), Vol. 25, No. 9 (September 1992), pp. 943-958. These assessments are thrown into doubt by the new archival evidence presented below. A somewhat different, but equally misguided, interpretation is presented in an otherwise valuable book by Vojtech Mastny, The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity: The Stalin Years (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 178-185.

15. "Protokol No. 47 zasedaniya Politbyuro TsK VKP(b) 29 dekabrya 1945 goda: O podgotovke rukovodyashchikh politicheskikh rabotnikov v oblasti vneshnikh snoshenii," Postanovlenie No. 5 (Strictly Secret), 29 December 1945, in Rossiiskii Tsentr Khraneniya i Izucheniya Dokumentov Noveishei Istorii (RTsKhIDNI), F. 17, Op. 3, D. 1054, L. 2. The Politburo commission was later converted into a Permanent Commission on Foreign Affairs, and its membership changed somewhat after Zhdanov's death; however, Stalin's chief successors (other than Khrushchev) remained members throughout this time. The Permanent Commission was abolished on 5 March 1953 in accordance with the initial agreement on post-Stalin ruling structures. See "Protokol sovmestnogo zasedaniya Plenuma Tsentral'nogo Komiteta KPSS, Soveta Ministrov Soyuza SSR i Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR ot 4 marta 1953 goda," Ll. 1-7.

16. Dmitrii Shepilov's retrospective account suggests en passant that in the spring of 1953, a brief disagreement arose within the CPSU Presidium--for political, not substantive, reasons--about U.S.-Soviet relations. (See Shepilov, "Vospominaniya," pp. 12-13.) However, there is no documentary evidence to corroborate Shepilov's vague and sketchy recollection. (Numerous other parts of Shepilov's account are also unreliable, based wholly or mainly on what he was told afterward by Khrushchev, who had a stake in conveying a tendentious version of events.) Even if Shepilov's memoir is accurate on this point, it does not alter the fact that a consensus emerged about Soviet relations with East-Central Europe.

17. The extent of Grigoryan's influence at the Foreign Ministry is evident from the routing slips of documents pertaining to East Germany and other East-Central European countries. His name invariably is listed among those of the deputy foreign ministers (even though he himself did not formally hold that rank). The dating of Grigoryan's shift to the Foreign Ministry can be derived from "Tov. Grigor'yanu V. G." (Top Secret), 3 April 1953, in RTsKhIDNI, F. 575, Op. 1, D. 277, L. 34. Grigoryan's previous ties with Beria and Malenkov worked to his detriment after Beria's arrest, when he was demoted to the editorship of a provincial newspaper.

18. On the establishment of the CPSU CC Department for Ties with Foreign Communist Parties, see "Prezidium: Ob Otdele TsK KPSS po svyazyam s inostrannymi kompartiyami," S-T 15/118-gs (Top Secret), 18 March 1953, in TsKhSD, F. 4, Op. 9, D. 709, Ll. 1-2, 4-5. The directive was approved by the CPSU Presidium the following day; see "Vypiska iz protokola No. 2 zasedaniya Prezidiuma TsK ot 19 marta 1953 g.," ibid., L. 3.

19. "Beschluss der 2. Parteikonferenz," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 13 July 1952, p. 1. For the full proceedings, see Protokoll der Verhandlungen der 2. Parteikonferenz der SED, 9-12 Juli 1952 (East Berlin: Staatsverlag der DDR, 1952).

20. See, for example, "TsK KPSS," Memorandum 708/i (Top Secret), 19 February 1953, from S. Ignatiev, Soviet minister of state security, in Arkhiv Sluzhby Vneshnei Razvedki Rossiiskoi Federatsii (ASVR), F. 2589, Tom (T.) 7, D. 45513, Ll. 97-99. Copies of documents cited here from the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service archive were supplied by Zoya Vodopyanova, courtesy of Sergei Kondrashev, whose book drawing on these documents is cited below.

21. "Analyse der Republikflucht" (Secret), 1954, Bundesarchiv-Potsdam Abteilungen (BA-P), Ministerium des Innern, Hauptverwaltung der Deutschen Volkspolizei (MI/HDV), 11/962.

22. See the detailed figures in "Auszug über Republikfluchten aus der DDR nach Westdeutschland für das Jahr 1953 (soziale Aufgliederung)" (Secret), 1954, in BA-P, MI/HDV, 11/962.

23. The operation to seal off the border was code-named "Ungeziefer" (Vermin). See Armin Mitter and Stefan Wolle, Untergang auf Raten: Unbekannte Kapitel der DDR-Geschichte (Munich: Bertelsmann, 1993), pp. 29-30.

24. "Erhöhung der Arbeitsnormen ein bedeutsamer Schritt auf dem Wege zur Steigerung der Arbeitsproduktivität," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 29 May 1953, p. 1.

25. "Analyse der Republikflucht," Seite (S.) 7.

26. "V Prezidium Tsentral'nogo Komiteta Kommunisticheskoi Partii Sovetskogo Soyuza," Memorandum No. St-00195 (Secret), 18 May 1953, from V. Chuikov, P. Yudin, and I. Il'ichev, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 64, D. 802, L. 125.

27. Aleksandrov-Agentov, Ot Kollontai do Gorbacheva, pp. 90-91.

28. On the social background of those who fled, see "Auszug über Republikfluchten aus der DDR nach Westdeutschland für das Jahr 1953," Anlage 1.

29. "Reshenie Sovetskogo pravitel'stva ob okazanii ekonomicheskoi pomoshchi Germanskoi Demokraticheskoi Respublike" (Secret), 18 April 1953, in Arkhiv Vneshnei Politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii (AVPRF), F. Referentura po Germanii, Op. 12a, Portfel' (Por.) 214, Papka (Pap.) 52. On the increased economic burden for the Soviet Union, see also "Zapiska po germanskomu voprosu" (Top Secret), 21 April 1953, in AVPRF, F. Sekretariata t. V. M. Molotova, Op. 41, Por. 18, Pap. 271; "K torgovym otnosheniyam mezhdu SSSR i GDR" (Secret), 27 April 1953, Report from A. Mikoyan to G. Malenkov, L. Beria, N. Khrushchev, N. Bulganin, and L. Kaganovich, in AVPRF, F. Sekretariata t. V. M. Molotova, Op. 12a, Por. 215, Pap. 52; "Zapiska po germanskomu voprosu" (Top Secret), 2 May 1953, Report from V. Semyonov to V. Molotov, in AVPRF, F. Referentura po Germanii, Op. 41, Por. 18, Pap. 271; and Ernst Wollweber, "Aus Erinnerungen: Ein Porträt Walter Ulbrichts," Beiträge zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (Berlin), Vol. 32, No. 3 (1990), esp. pp. 356-360. Wollweber was a senior Stasi official in 1953.

30. J.F. Brown, Bulgaria under Communist Rule (New York: Praeger, 1970), pp. 16-24.

31. "TsK KPSS tovarishchu Ponomarenko P. K.: Spravka o nedostatkakh politichesko-ideinoi raboty v Bolgarii," Memorandum No. 17/S (Secret), 11 December 1952, from V. Berezin, head of the international department of the Soviet trade union council, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, D. 986, Ll. 10-14; and "Zapis' besedy s chlenom Politbyuro BKP Mincho Neichevym, 24 fevralya 1953 g.," Cable No. 35 (Top Secret), 25 February 1953, to Soviet deputy foreign minister B.F. Podtserob from I. Kairov of the Soviet embassy in Bulgaria, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 30, D. 35, Ll. 38-41.

32. "Zapis' besedy s chlenom Politbyuro BKP Mincho Neichevym," Ll. 38-39.

33. For an illuminating firsthand account of this period, see Georgi Markov, Zadochni reportazhi za Bulgariya (Sofia: Profizdat, 1990), pp. 103-110.

34. "V Prezidium TsK KPSS" (Top Secret), 5 October 1953, from A. Mikoyan to G.M. Malenkov and N.S. Khrushchev, transmitting "K voprosu ob ekonomicheskom polozhenii v Bolgarii," in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 30, D. 35, Ll. 42-55. For a very useful account, which is well borne out by archival documents, see Brown, Bulgaria under Communist Rule, pp. 25-26. See also Vladimir Kostov, Le parapluie bulgare (Paris: Editions Stocks, 1986), pp. 54-56. Kostov was a senior official in the Bulgarian State Security (Durzhavna Sigurnost) organs until 1978, when he defected to the West. For U.S. diplomatic assessments of the unrest in Bulgaria (in both 1950 and 1953), see "Records Relating to the Internal Affairs of Bulgaria, 1950-1954," U.S. Department of State (DoS), Record Group (RG) 59, Decimal Files (DF) 769.00, General Records of the Department of State (GRDoS), National Archives (NA), Washington, DC.

35. Remarkably little scholarly attention has been devoted to the turmoil in Czechoslovakia, and nothing has been written about the impact of the events on Soviet decision making. For example, in the six hundred pages of Zbigniew K. Brzezinski's authoritative book, The Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict, expanded and rev. ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967), only one brief sentence (on p. 164) refers to the Plzen riots. Also, Brzezinski errs in giving the date of the riots as "the summer of 1953." The most detailed and reliable published account is Otto Ulã, "Pilsen: The Unknown Revolt," Problems of Communism, Vol. 14, No. 3 (May-June 1965), pp. 46-49. Ulã, a district court official in Plzen in mid-1953, helped conduct trials of many of the "ringleaders." In that capacity, he had access to secret documents about the crisis, which he used in compiling his observations after he defected to the West in 1956. Ulã's account has been supplemented here with information from Czech and Russian archival documents, as cited below.

36. Karel Bartosek, "Stavkující delník v Praze roku 1953," Listy (Rome), Vol. 17, No. 2 (1987), p. 61.

37. Exchanges for bank deposits were treated slightly more favorably.

38. In addition to the cables adduced in footnote 4, see numerous other items in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, Dd. 988 and 989.

39. "Sekretaryu Tsentral'nogo komiteta KPSS tovarishchu Suslovu M. A.," Memorandum No. 121ss (Top Secret), 21 March 1953, to M.A. Suslov from I. Isachenko, deputy head of Glavlit, and the attached report "Spravka o komandirovke v Chekhoslovakiyu dlya okazaniya pomoshchi v organizatsii organov tsenzury," in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 30, D. 34, Ll. 1-5. See also "Zapis' besedy s A. Novotnym, 1 aprelya 1953 g." (Top Secret), 1 April 1953, from P. Krekoten', counselor at the Soviet embassy in Czechoslovakia, to Soviet foreign minister V. Molotov, in AVPRF, F. 0138, Op. 35, Papka (Pa.) 226, D. 15, Ll. 1-6.

40. On the KSC's repeated denials, see, for example, "Porada o úkolech zasedaní ÚV KSC," Rudé právo (Prague), 4 February 1953, p. 2.

41. Precise data on strikes are included in the KSC CC Political Bureau's secret report on the Plzen revolt, "Zpráva pro Politické Byro ÚV KSC," in Statní Ústfiední Archiv (SÚA), Prague, Archiv Ustfiedního v(breve)boru Komunistické Strany Ceskoslovenska (Arch. ÚV KSC), Fond (F.) 02/5, Svazek (Sv.) 018, Archivná jednotka (A.j.) 13.

42. Ibid., esp. pp. 4-18. For further valuable documentation and assessments of these events and of other disturbances in Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1953, see "Records Relating to the Internal Affairs of Czechoslovakia, 1950-1954," DoS, RG 59, DF 749.00, GRDoS, NA, Washington, DC.

43. "Zpráva pro Politické Byro ÚV KSC," L. 11.

44. Ibid., Ll. 17-18.

45. For an invaluable firsthand account of these retributions, see Ulã, "Pilsen," pp. 48-49.

46. "Záznam z jednání Sekretariátu ÚV KSC" (Top Secret), 11 June 1953, in SÚA, Arch. ÚV KSC, F. 018, Sv. 513, A.j. 93.

47. Quoted from "Zpráva pro Politické Byro ÚV KSC," L. 5.

48. "Proekt ukazanii tt. Chuikovu, Semenovu" (Top Secret), 18 March 1953, with cover note from V. Molotov to the CPSU Presidium, in AVPRF, F. 06, Op. 12, Pap. 18, Por. 283, Ll. 6-7.

49. "V Prezidium TsK KPSS," Memorandum No. 44/B (Top Secret), 6 May 1953, from L. Beria to the CPSU Presidium, in ASVR, F. 2589, T. 7, D. 3581, Ll. 326-328.

50. Ibid., L. 326.

51. The East German National People's Army (Nationale Volksarmee) was not formally established until 1956, but heavily armed paramilitary units (renamed the Kasernierte Volkspolizei, or KVP, in 1952) had been serving in that capacity since 1949. Though nominally still a "police" force, the KVP were given full military training, were equipped with heavy weapons, were subject to military discipline, and were quartered in military barracks. See Frank Buchholz, Armee für Frieden und Sozialismus: Die Geschichte der bewaffneten Organe der DDR (Munich: Universität der Bundeswehr, 1991), pp. 16-27.

52. "V Prezidium TsK KPSS," L. 327.

53. Ibid., Ll. 327-328.

54. "Protokol No. 8 zasedaniya Prezidiuma TsK KPSS ot 14 maya 1953 goda" (Strictly Secret), 14 May 1953, in TsKhSD, F. 3, Op. 10, D. 23, Ll. 41-42.

55. For the draft by Molotov, see "Proekt ukazanii tt. Chuikovu, Yudinu" (Top Secret), 14 May 1953, with cover note from V. Molotov to the CPSU Presidium, in AVPRF, F. 06, Op. 12, Pap. 18, D. 278, Ll. 39-40.

56. "Proekt ukazanii t. Miroshnichenko" (Top Secret), 16 June 1953, in AVPRF, F. 06, Op. 12a, Pap. 51, D. 292, Ll. 17-19.

57. Cited in Grotewohl's handwritten notes of the Soviet-East German meeting on 3 June 1953, in Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMDB), Zentrales Parteiarchiv der DDR (ZPA), DY 30 J IV, 2/2/286.

58. "Protokol No. 8 zasedaniya Prezidiuma TsK KPSS ot 14 maya 1953 goda," L. 41.

59. "Karl Marx--der grösste Sohn der deutschen Nation: Aus der Rede des Genossen Walter Ulbricht auf der Gedenkkundgebung in Berlin zum 135. Geburtstag von Karl Marx am 5. Mai 1953," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 7 May 1953, p. 3.

60. "Protokol No. 8 zasedaniya Prezidiuma TsK KPSS ot 14 maya 1953 goda," L. 41.

61. Ibid.

62. "V Prezidium Tsentral'nogo Komiteta Kommunisticheskoi Partii Sovetskogo Soyuza," L. 129.

63. "Protokol No. 9 zasedaniya Prezidiuma TsK KPSS ot 20 maya 1953 goda" (Strictly Secret), 20 May 1953, in TsKhSD, F. 3, Op. 10, D. 23, L. 5.

64. "Vypiska iz protokola No. 9 zasedaniya Prezidiuma TsK ot 20 maya 1953 g.: O reorganizatsii apparata upolnomochennogo MVD SSSR v Germanskoi Demokraticheskoi Respublike," No. P9/IX (Strictly Secret), 20 May 1953, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 24, D. 463, L. 24.

65. The aborted reorganization of the Soviet MVD apparatus in East Germany is discussed in the extraordinary account of East-West intelligence operations in Cold War Berlin by David E. Murphy, Sergei A. Kondrashev, and George Bailey, Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 159-162, 171-172, 181-182, which is based on many declassified Soviet and U.S. documents as well as interviews with former officials. Murphy, Kondrashev, and Bailey emphasize Beria's desire to replace officials of questionable loyalty to himself, which is a valid point, but they apparently were unaware that the reorganization of the MVD apparatus in East Germany had been approved by the full CPSU Presidium.

66. "MVD SSSR" (Top Secret), 5 July 1953, Report to Soviet minister of internal affairs S. Kruglov from I. Fedotov, chief of the MVD First Main Directorate, and I. Fadeikin, chief MVD representative in East Germany, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 64, D. 925, Ll. 156-165.

67. Ibid., L. 160. See also the firsthand East German account in Rudolf Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument: Das Politbüro der SED und die Geschichte des 17. Juni 1953, edited by Nadja Stulz-Herrnstadt (Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1990), pp. 60-61.

68. Fuller accounts and documentation of each of these incidents will be provided in Part 2 of this article.

69. The transcript of the 27 May meeting is stored at APRF, and another copy is housed at TsKhSD, but unfortunately neither archive has yet released the transcript. One important indicator of the broad consensus among the participants in the 27 May meeting is the top secret document they unanimously approved soon afterward, on 2 June, "O merakh po ozdorovleniyu obstanovki v GDR," (Top Secret), in APRF, F.3, Op. 64, D. 802, Ll. 154-161. The official German translation of this document, "Dokument über die Massnahmen zur Gesundung der politischen Lage in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik," is now available in SAPMDB, ZPA, J NL, 2/32. The German version also was published as "Ein Dokument von grösser historischer Bedeutung," Beiträge zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (Berlin), Vol. 32, No. 5 (1990), pp. 648-654. Other partial indicators of what went on at the meeting can be found in the retrospective comments of the participants. Some of these comments are useful, but all must be treated with extreme caution because the participants later had a stake in exaggerating their alleged differences with Beria. The document approved on 2 June shows that in fact the differences were negligible. See the statements by Malenkov, Khrushchev, Molotov, Bulganin, and others in the transcript of the CPSU Central Committee convened on 2-7 July 1953 to denounce Beria, "Plenum TsK KPSS, XVII Sozyv, 2-7 iyulya 1953 goda" (Strictly Secret), 2-7 July 1953, in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, Dd. 27-33. Scholars are strongly advised to use this verbatim transcript of the plenum rather than the touched-up and misleading version that was published in Izvestiya TsK KPSS in early 1991, though even the verbatim transcript must be analyzed with great circumspection. For more distant (and often highly tendentious) recollections of the 27 May meeting, see N.S. Khrushchev, "Aktsii," in V.F. Nekrasov, ed., Beria: Konets kar'ery (Moscow: Politizdat, 1991), p. 262; Feliks Chuev, ed., Sto sorok besed s Molotovym (Moscow: Terra, 1991), pp. 333-335; and Vladimir Semyonov, Von Stalin bis Gorbatschow: Ein halbes Jahrhundert in diplomatischer Mission, 1939-1991 (Berlin: Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1995), pp. 290-292. The very brief account by Andrei Gromyko in the English edition of his Memoirs, translated and edited by Harold Shukman (New York: Doubleday, 1989), pp. 314-316, which does not appear in the much longer Russian version of the memoirs--Pamyatnoe, 2 vols. (Moscow: Politizdat, 1988)--is so unreliable that it should not be cited for any purpose.

70. "Plenum TsK KPSS, XVII Sozyv: Stenogramma pervogo zasedaniya (utrennego) 2 iyulya 1953 g." (Strictly Secret), 2 July 1953, in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 29, L. 8.

71. "O merakh po ozdorovleniyu politicheskoi obstanovki v GDR," L. 156.

72. According to a preliminary "decision" (reshenie) drafted for the Presidium of the Council of Ministers, Bulganin and Khrushchev were also supposed to be members of the commission preparing the document, but there is no evidence that either of them took an active part.

73. "Plenum Tsentral'nogo Komiteta KPSS--yanvar' 1955 goda: Devyatoe zasedanie, utrenee, 31 yanvarya" (Top Secret), 31 January 1955, in TsKhSD, F. 2, Op. 1, D. 127, Ll. 103-105. Molotov recalled that Beria immediately said, "Of course," and "I agree," when discussing Molotov's proposals for changes.

74. For the final document, see "O merakh po ozdorovleniyu politicheskoi obstanovki v GDR," Ll. 154-161. The drafts were located in the Russian foreign ministry archive in May 1996 by Hope Harrison, who generously passed on the citations to me to look up when I went to the archive. See "Postanovlenie Soveta Ministrov SSSR: O polozhenii v Germanii--proekt" (Top Secret), 1 June 1953, and "O merakh po ozdorovleniyu obstanovki v Germanii" (Top Secret), 1 June 1953, marked-up drafts, both in AVPRF, F. 06, Op. 12, Pap. 16, D. 263, Ll. 9-17 and 18-24, respectively. The bulk of the markings on the first of these drafts are in Semyonov's handwriting, with further corrections and revisions by Molotov. The much smaller number of markings on the second draft are by Molotov and Beria.

75. "Rasporyazhenie Soveta Ministrov SSSR ot 2 iyunya 1953 g.," No. 7576-rs (Top Secret), 2 June 1953, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 64, D. 802, L. 153.

76. "Beschluss des Ministerrats der UdSSR," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 29 May 1953, p. 1. This step had been proposed earlier in May by the SKKG and by officials in the Soviet foreign ministry; it was then approved by both the CPSU Presidium (as noted above) and the Presidium of the Council of Ministers. It was announced in the name of the latter.

77. Aleksandrov-Agentov, Ot Kollontai do Gorbacheva, p. 92.

78. "Jegyzokönyv a Szovjet és a Magyar párt-és állami vezetok tárgyalásairól" (Top Secret), 13, 14, and 16 June 1953, in Magyar Országos Levéltár (MOL), Budapest, 276, F. 102/65, o.e.

79. "O merakh po ozdorovleniyu politicheskoi obstanovki v GDR," L. 154.

80. See Grotewohl's handwritten notes from the meetings in SAPMDB, ZPA, DY 30 J IV 2/2/286.

81. "O merakh po ozdorovleniyu politicheskoi obstanovki v GDR," Ll. 154-161.

82. "3.6.53," Grotewohl's handwritten notes, in SAPMDB, ZPA, DY 30 J IV 2/2/286, S. 12. The German word here, as translated by Grotewohl, is Wendung, but the context makes it clear that Kaganovich used the Russian word perevorot.

83. On earlier Soviet contacts, see, for example, Aleksandrov-Agentov, Ot Kollontai do Gorbacheva, pp. 90-91; the memoirs of Fritz Schenk, a senior East German economics official, Im Vorzimmer der Diktatur: 12 Jahre Pankow (Cologne: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 1962), pp. 182-186, 215-223; and Martin Janicke, Der Dritte Weg: Die antistalinistische Opposition gegen Ulbricht seit 1953 (Cologne: Neuer Deutscher Verlag, 1964), pp. 22-23.

84. "TsK KPSS" (Top Secret), 8 May 1953, from V. Molotov to G. Malenkov and N. Khrushchev, in AVPRF, F. 06, Op. 12, D. 291, L. 5.

85. Comments of Hermann Matern, recorded in "MVD SSSR" (Top Secret), 5 July 1953, Report to Soviet minister of internal affairs S. Kruglov from I. Fedotov, chief of the MVD First Main Directorate, and I. Fadeikin, chief MVD representative in East Germany, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 64, D. 925, L. 160.

86. Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 60-66. See also the records and notes from the Politburo meetings in "Dokumente aus der Sitzung des Politbüros des ZK der SED am 6. Juni 1953" (Top Secret), June 1953, in SAPMDB, ZPA, J IV, 2/2-278 and NL, 90/699. Lengthy portions of these materials were collected, annotated, and published by Elke Scherstjanoi in "'Wollen wir den Sozialismus?,'" Beiträge zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (Berlin), Vol. 33, No. 5 (1991), pp. 658-680.

87. Cited in Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 61-62.

88. See the transcripts and notes collected in Scherstjanoi, "'Wollen wir den Sozialismus?,'" pp. 652-680.

89. Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 62-66. On the SVKG's overtures, see Schenk, Im Vorzimmer der Diktatur, p. 192.

90. Cited in Heinz Brandt, Ein Traum, der Nicht Entführbar ist: Mein weg zwischen Ost und West (Munich: Paul List Verlag, 1967), p. 171. Brandt was Jendretzky's deputy.

91. Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 67-69.

92. "Diskussionsrede auf der Sitzung des Politbüros vom 6.6.1953," in Scherstjanoi, "'Wollen wir den Sozialismus?,'" pp. 674-675.

93. "Notizen aus der Sitzung am 6. Juni 1953," notes by Herrnstadt, in Scherstjanoi, "'Wollen wir den Sozialismus?,'" pp. 671-673.

94. Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 72-73.

95. Ibid., p. 74.

96. "Kommuniqué des Politbüros vom 9. Juni 1953," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 11 June 1953, p. 1.

97. The transcript of these negotiations was recently unearthed in the Hungarian National Archive, as cited in footnote 78. I am grateful to James G. Hershberg for providing me with a copy. For Imre Nagy's firsthand account of these negotiations, which is fully borne out--word for word--by the transcript, see Imre Nagy, On Communism: In Defense of the New Course (London: Thames and Hudson, 1957), pp. 66, 106-107, 250-251, 252; and the secret reports by Nagy and Mátyás Rákosi to the Hungarian Central Committee on 27 June 1953, which will be discussed and cited in Part 2 of this article. Rákosi's retrospective account of the talks, written while he was in exile in the Soviet Union between 1956 and 1971, was released from the Russian Presidential Archive in the mid-1990s and published in Hungary as part of his memoirs, which are also being serialized in the Russian journal Istoricheskii arkhiv. (The relevant segment is in issue no. 3 for 1998, pp. 9-22.) See also Bálint Szabó, Az ötvenes évek: Elmélet és politika a szocialista épités elso idoszakában Magyarországon 1948-1957 (Budapest: Kossuth Konyvkiado, 1986), esp. pp. 65-98, 107-132.

98. "Jegyzokönyv a Szovjet és a Magyar párt-és állami vezetok tárgyalásairól," oldal (ol.) 4.

99. Ibid., ol. 2.

100. Ibid., ol. 12. The other Hungarian officials were Erno Gero, a deputy prime minister who later (in July 1956) succeeded Rákosi as party leader; István Dobi, the chairman of the Presidential Council; András Hegedüs; István Hidas; Rudolf Földvári; and Béla Szalai.

101. Ibid., ol. 16.

102. Ibid. Evidently, Soviet leaders believed that violent unrest might not have erupted so early in Czechoslovakia if Soviet troops had been deployed there. No Soviet forces had been present in Czechoslovakia since 1945.

103. Ibid., ol. 15-16.

104. Ibid., ol. 17.

105. "Az MDP KV Titkársága ülésenek jegyzokönyve, 1953. június 17" (Top Secret), 17 June 1953, MOL, 276, F. 54/248 o.e.

106. "Az MDP KV Politikai Bizottsága ülésenek jegyzokönyve, 1953. június 20" (Top Secret), 20 June 1953, in MOL, 276, F. 53/122 o.e.

107. An illuminating and generally credible account of the Soviet-Albanian talks, albeit one that must be treated with a good deal of caution, is in Enver Hoxha's memoirs, The Artful Albanian: The Memoirs of Enver Hoxha, edited by Jon Halliday (London: Chatto and Windus, 1986), pp. 147-151.

108. Ibid., p. 149.

109. "Zapis' besedy poslannika SSSR v Albanii Levychkina K. D. s zamestitelem prem'er-ministra Albanii Mekhmetom Shekhu," Cable No. 924 (Top Secret), 31 December 1952, from K. D. Levychkin, Soviet ambassador in Tirana, to Soviet foreign minister A. Ya. Vyshinskii and V. G. Grigor'yan, head of the CPSU CC Foreign Policy Commission, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, D. 985, Ll. 2-6. For detailed numbers of the Soviet specialists and advisers in Albania, see "Tovarishchu Malenkovu G. M.," Memorandum No. 263-P (Secret), March 1953, from M. Suslov, Pegov, V. Grigor'yan, Baranenkov, and B. Podtserob to G. Malenkov, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, D. 985, Ll. 67-69. See also "Protokol No. 79 zasedaniya Politbyuro TsK VKP (b) ot 21 dekabrya 1950 g.: O komandirovanii v Albaniyu, Bolgariyu, Vengriyu i Rumyniyu sovetskikh spetsialistov i o prinyatii v SSSR spetsialistov iz Albanii, Bolgarii i Vengrii" (Strictly Secret), 18 December 1950, in RTsKhIDNI, F. 17, Op. 3, D. 1086, L. 71, as well as the attachments on Ll. 270-280.

110. See, for example, "Zapis' besedy poslannika SSSR v Albanii Levychkina K. D. s zamestitelem prem'er-ministra i sekretarem TsK APT Mekhmetom Shekhu, 16 dekabrya 1952 goda," Cable No. 897 (Secret), 17 December 1952, from Soviet ambassador K.D. Levychkin to Soviet foreign minister A. Ya. Vyshinskii, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, D. 985, Ll. 38-43.

111. "Zapis' besedy poslannika SSSR v Albanii Levychkina K. D. s prem'er-ministrom Albanii Enverom Khodzha, 8 yanvarya 1953 goda," Cable No. 17 (Top Secret), from Soviet ambassador K.D. Levychkin to Soviet foreign minister A. Ya. Vyshinskii; and "Zapis' besedy poslannika SSSR v Albanii Levychkina K. D. s prem'er-ministrom Albanii Enverom Khodzha 18 yanvarya 1953 goda," Cable No. 40 (Top Secret), 20 January 1953, from Soviet ambassador K.D. Levychkin to Soviet foreign minister A. Ya. Vyshinskii, both in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 22, D. 985, Ll. 47-51 and 53-62, respectively.

112. Stavro Skendi et al., Albania (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1956), pp. 85-86. See also Nicholas C. Pano, The People's Republic of Albania (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1968), pp. 111-112. Not until July 1954 did Hoxha relinquish his posts as prime minister and internal affairs minister. He continued to serve as the renamed ALP first secretary.

113. In The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), Hedley Bull presents a typology of possible relationships between a preponderant state (in this case, the USSR) and a group of subordinate states (in this case, the East-Central European countries), ranging from "dominance" through "hegemony" to "primacy" in descending order of control.

114. "Jegyzokönyv a Szovjet és a Magyar párt-és állami vezetok tárgyalásairól," ol. 19.

115. "Analyse über die Vorbereitung den Ausbruch und die Niederschlagung des faschistischen Abenteuers vom 16.-22.6. 1953" (Top Secret), 20 July 1953, Report by the SED CC Department on Main Party Organs, in SAPMDB, DY 30 J IV, 2/202/15.

116. See, for example, "Stellungnahmen der Parteiorgane nach dem 9./11.6.1953: Analyse der SED Kreisleitung Wernigerode" (Top Secret), 11 June 1953, in SAPMDB, ZPA, DY 30 IV 2/5/526.

117. Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 72-75. The most noteworthy article opposing the higher norms was Siegfried Grün and Käthe Stern, "Es ist Zeit, den Holzhammer beiseite zu legen," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 14 June 1953, p. 1.

118. "Stellungnahmen der Parteiorgane nach dem 9. bzw 11.6.1953: Stimmungsbericht aus Magdeburg, 12.5.1953," Report No. 7ws (Top Secret), 12 June 1953, from the Magdeburg district party committee to the SED CC Department on Main Organs of the Party and Mass Organizations, in SAPMDB, ZPA, DY 30 IV, 2/5/526. This document and the next three cited here from the SED CC Department on Main Organs of the Party and Mass Organizations (Abteilung Leitende Organe der Partei und Massenorganisationen) were supplied to the author by Christian Ostermann. See Ostermann's cogent analysis of these documents in "New Documents on the East German Uprising of 1953," Cold War International History Bulletin, No. 5 (Spring 1995), p. 12.

119. "Stellungnahmen der Parteiorgane nach dem 9. bzw. 11.6.1953: K L Wanzleben, 12.6.1953," Report No. 93wf (Top Secret), 12 June 1953, from the Wanzleben district party committee to the SED CC Department on Main Organs of the Party and Mass Organizations, in SAPMDB, ZPA, DY 30 IV, 2/5/526. See also Schirdewan's memoir, Aufstand gegen Ulbricht: Im Kampf um politische Kurskorrektur, gegen stalinistische, dogmatische Politik (Berlin: Aufbau Taschenbuch Verlag, 1994), pp. 48-52.

120. "Stellungnahmen der Parteiorgane nach dem 9. bzw. 11.6.1953: Durchsage der Kreisleitung Seehausen," Report No. 137tl (Top Secret), 12 June 1953, from the Seehausen district party committee to the SED CC Department on Main Organs of the Party and Mass Organizations, in SAPMDB, ZPA, DY 30 IV, 2/5/526.

121. "Resolution," VEB.-Industriebau, Baustelle: Bettenhaus Friedrichshain, 14-15 June 1953, in SAPMDB, NL 90/437.

122. "Notiz," 15 June 1953, from W. Tzschorn to O. Grotewohl, in SAPMDB, ZPA, NL 90/437. See also "Betrifft: Empfang einer Delegation von Bauarbeitern aus der Stalinallee durch die Genossen Plaschke und Tzschorn" (Top Secret), June 1953, in SAPMDB, ZPA, NL 90/437.

123. Otto Lehmann, "Zu einigen schädlichen Erscheinungen bei der Erhöhung der Arbeitsnormen," Tribüne (East Berlin), 16 June 1953, pp. 1-2.

124. For a useful firsthand Soviet account of the East German uprising, which was transmitted to Khrushchev on 24 June 1953, see "Soobshchenie o sobytiyakh v Berline 16 i 17 iyunya 1953 goda," Report No. 235 (Secret), 22 June 1953, by P. Naumov, with a cover note dated 24 June from D.T. Shepilov to N.S. Khrushchev, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 30, D. 5, Ll. 72-86.

125. Cable from Vadim Kuchin, assistant to the chief of the Soviet MVD apparatus in East Germany, 16 June 1953, cited in Murphy, Kondrashev, and Bailey, Battleground Berlin, p. 165.

126. Brandt, Ein Traum, der Nicht Entführbar ist, pp. 203-204.

127. "Erklärung des Politbüros des ZK der SED zur Normenfrage," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 17 June 1953, p. 1.

128. Arnulf Baring, Der 17. Juni 1953 (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1983), pp. 47-48.

129. Alexis de Tocqueville, L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution (Paris: Michel Lévy Fre÷res, 1860), pp. 283-284.

130. Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1952), pp. 56-60.

131. Cited in Leo Haupts, "Die Blockparteien in der DDR und der 17. Juni 1953," Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Vol. 40, No. 1 (January 1992), pp. 387-388.

132. "Soobshchenie o sobytiyakh v Berline 16 i 17 iyunya 1953 goda," L. 76; and Baring, Der 17. Juni 1953, p. 49.

133. "Soobshchenie o sobytiyakh v Berline 16 i 17 iyunya 1953 goda," L. 80.

134. A vast amount of declassified documentation and new memoirs about the East German uprising and the Soviet response have recently become available in Berlin and Moscow, though major gaps in the story persist. The former SED and State Security archives in Berlin are an especially rich source of new materials. Several scholarly journals in Germany, particularly Deutschland Archiv, have featured a plethora of new research on the crisis, and a growing number of books have been published, including Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, Armin Mitter, and Stefan Wolle, eds., Der Tag X. 17. Juni 1953: Die "innere Staatsgründung" der DDR als Ergebnis der Krise 1952/54 (Berlin: Ch. Links, 1995); Manfred Hagen, DDR. Juni '53: Die erste Volkserhebung im Stalinismus (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1992); Armin Mitter and Stefan Wolle, Untergang auf Raten: Unbekannte Kapitel der DDR-Geschichte (Munich: Bertelsmann, 1993); Gerhard Beier, Wir wollen freie Menschen sein. Der 17. Juni 1953: Bauleute gingen voran (Cologne: Bund, 1993); and Torsten Diedrich, Der 17. Juni 1953 in der DDR: Bewaffnete Gewalt gegen das Volk (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1991). On the Soviet side, unfortunately, some of the most important documents have not yet been released from the Russian Presidential Archive. Many valuable items are available, however, at AVPRF, TsKhSD, the main Ministry of Defense archive (in the reading room of the General Staff building), and the State Archive of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii, or GARF). The GARF collections include newly released "Special Files" (Osobye papki), with a whole section on the German Question ("Materialy MVD SSSR po germanskomu voprosu"), from the Ministry of Internal Affairs during the three months it was merged with the Ministry of State Security under Lavrentii Beria's direction, but these materials shed almost no light on top-level deliberations about Germany between March and June 1953. The nature of those deliberations will not be fully documented until appropriate items are released from the Presidential Archive.

135. See the minutes of the SED Politbüro's emergency meetings (Secret), 16 and 17 June 1953, in SAPMDB, ZPA, IV 2/2/305 and IV 2/2/363. See also Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 82-84; Wollweber, "Aus Erinnerungen," pp. 358-359; Schenk, Im Vorzimmer der Diktatur, pp. 203-204; and Murphy, Kondrashev, and Bailey, Battleground Berlin, pp. 163-166.

136. "MVD SSSR" (Top Secret), 17 June 1953, from Colonel I. Fadeikin, chief of the Soviet MVD apparatus in East Germany, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 64, D. 925, Ll. 72-76.

137. "Soobshchenie o sobytiyakh v Berline 16 i 17 iyunya 1953 goda," L. 78.

138. "Tovarishchu V. M. Molotovu, tovarishchu N. A. Bulganinu," (Top Secret), 17 June 1953 (7:26 A.M. Moscow time), High-Frequency Telephone Report from V. Semenov and A. Grechko, in Tsentral'nyi Arkhiv Ministerstva Oborony (TsAMO), Moscow, F. 16, Op. 3139, D. 155, Ll. 1-3.

139. Ibid., L. 2.

140. Ibid.

141. bid., Ll. 2-3.

142. A Russian expert on Soviet-German relations, Aleksei Filitov, argued in 1993 that Ulbricht may have deliberately allowed the uprising to occur so that he could stave off his imminent removal from the SED leadership. See Germanskii vopros: Ot raskola k ob"edineniyu (Moscow: Nauka, 1993), pp. 154-157. Filitov's argument, when it first appeared, was intriguing and provocative though ultimately unpersuasive; it has now been undermined by the new archival evidence cited here. During a conversation in late 1996, Filitov himself disavowed his earlier interpretation.

143. "Von der Tagung des Berliner Parteiaktivs: Rede des Genossen Walter Ulbricht," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 18 June 1953, p. 1.

144. Mitter and Wolle, Untergang auf Raten, p. 95.

145. For ample background on this point, see "Informatsionnaya zapiska o politiko-moral'nom sostoyanii v kazarmennoi narodnoi politsii GDR" (Top Secret), 26 November 1953, Report to the CPSU Presidium by I. Kabin of the CPSU CC Department on Ties with Foreign Communist Parties, with a cover note from Mikhail Suslov, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 64, D. 916, Ll. 136-144.

146. Figures on casualties are from the top secret report of 1 July 1953 by the Halle Bezirk branch of the Volkspolizei on the events of 17 June, in BA-P, DO 1/11/305, S. 143. I am grateful to Gary Bruce of McGill University for alerting me to this source. On Oelssner's role, see Hagen, DDR. Juni '53, p. 76; and Diedrich, Der 17. Juni 1953 in der DDR, p. 170.

147. See the numerous top secret reports from 17 June 1953 now stored in BA-P, DO 1/11/305; BA-P, DO 1/11/304; and SAPMDB, ZPA, J IV 2/202/14. Again, I want to thank Gary Bruce for drawing these sources to my attention. Bruce is at work on a meticulous analysis of the Stasi's role in East German politics.

148. "Informatsionnaya zapiska o politiko-moral'nom sostoyanii v kazarmennoi narodnoi politsii GDR," Ll. 138, 139.

149. "Betr.: Vorkomnisse in Apparat der örtlichen staatlichen Organe," 18 June 1953 (10:50 A.M.), Memorandum from A. Plenikowki, in SAPMDB, ZPA, IV 2/5/530. See also "Analyse über die Vorbereitung den Ausbruch und die Niederschlagung des faschistischen Abenteurs," Ss. 7-10.

150. "Marshalu Sovetskogo Soyuza tovarishchu Sokolovskomu V. D.," Report No. 11250 (Top Secret), 19 June 1953, from Colonel I. Fadeikin, in TsAMO, F. 16, Op. 3139, D. 155, L. 220.

151. Ibid., Ll. 217-222.

152. "Soobshchenie o sobytiyakh v Berline 16 i 17 iyunya 1953 goda," L. 85.

153. Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 82-83.

154. Ibid., p. 84.

155. Grechko had arrived in the GDR only a few weeks earlier, replacing Army-General Vasilii Chuikov in a long-planned rotation of commands. See Brandt, Ein Traum, der Nicht Entführbar ist, p. 193. Chuikov was appointed commander of the USSR's Kiev Military District, a post that Grechko had held for the previous eight years.

156. On the expansive rights accorded to the GSOVG commander in chief, see "Polozhenie o sovetskoi voennoi administratsii po upravleniyu sovetskoi zonoi okkupatsii v Germanii" (Secret), July 1945, in AVPRF, F. 082, Op. 27, Pap. 120, D. 3, Ll. 10-16, plus modifications outlined after the creation of the GDR in USSR Council of Ministers, "Postanovlenie ot 14 aprelya 1952 g. No. 1787-670ss: Vopros o Germanskoi Demokraticheskoi Respublike" (Strictly Secret--Special Dossier), 14 April 1952, signed by J. Stalin and M. Pomaznev, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 64, D. 811, Ll. 32-33. See also Siegfried Mampel, Der Sowjetsektor von Berlin: Eine Analyse seines ausseren und inneren Status (Berlin: Alfred Metzner Verlag, 1963), pp. 82-83, 95.

157. "Tovarishchu V. M. Molotovu, tovarishchu N. A. Bulganinu," Ll. 1-3.

158. On the number of participants, see Mitter and Wolle, Untergang auf Raten, p. 105. See also the figures of similar magnitude compiled at the time by Lieutenant-General Fyodor Fedenko, head of operations for the Main Operations Directorate of the Soviet General Staff, in "General-Leitenantu tov. Pavlovskomu N. O.," Memorandum No. 764284 (Top Secret), 27 June 1953, in TsAMO, F. 16, Op. 3139, D. 155, Ll. 31-33. A secret report to Moscow from a Soviet correspondent in East Berlin on 22 June 1953 estimated that in the capital alone, "the number of people directly taking part in the demonstrations on 17 June was at least 100,000" and that a "huge" number of others supported the protests. See "Soobshchenie o sobytiyakh v Berline 16 i 17 iyunya 1953 goda," L. 86.

159. "MVD SSSR" (Top Secret), 17 June 1953, High-Frequency Telephone Cable from Colonel I. Fadeikin, chief of the Soviet MVD apparatus in East Germany, in APRF, F. 3, Op. 64, D. 925, L. 74.

160. Andrei Aleksandrov-Agentov, interview, Moscow, 11 October 1992. This was in contrast to the situation three years later, in October and November 1956, when the CPSU Presidium approved the use of Soviet troops to quell a revolution in Hungary. A senior member of the Presidium, Anastas Mikoyan, vigorously dissented from the decision; another member, Maksim Saburov, expressed serious reservations. See Mark Kramer, "The Soviet Union and the 1956 Crises in Hungary and Poland: Reassessments and New Findings," Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 33, No. 2 (April 1998), pp. 184-186, 190, 198-199.

161. "Tovarishchu V. M. Molotovu, tovarishchu N. A. Bulganinu," L. 3.

162. "MVD SSSR" (Top Secret), 20 June 1953, High-Frequency Telephone Cable to Beria, from Sergei Goglidze, Pyotr Fedotov, and Ivan Fadeikin, in ASVR, F. 2589, T. 2, D. 68881, Ll. 328-329.

163. "Befehl des Militärkommandanten des sowjetischen Sektors von Berlin," Neues Deutschland (East Berlin), 18 June 1953, p. 1.

164. "Telefonogramma po V Ch" (Strictly Secret), 17 June 1953, 1400 hours, from V. Semyonov to the CPSU Presidium, in AVPRF, F. Sekretariata t. V. M. Molotova, Op. 12a, Por. 200, Pap. 51. Grechko issued his order to the GSOVG at 12:30 p.m. The course of Soviet military operations on 17, 18, 19, and 20 June can be traced via the large number of situation reports from Sokolovskii and Semyonov to Molotov and Bulganin stored in this same section of the AVPRF, and other reports from Grechko to Bulganin stored in TsAMO, F. 16, Op. 3139, D. 155.

165. For a detailed breakdown of the assignments given to particular Soviet units, see "Tovarishchu Bulganinu N. A.," Report No. 942033 (Top Secret), 17 June 1953, from A. Grechko and S. Tarasov to Soviet defense minister Nikolai Bulganin, in TsAMO, F. 16, Op. 3139, D. 155, Ll. 12-14.

166. Hagen, DDR. Juni '53, pp. 772-773.

167. "Briefing Paper on Recent Developments in East Germany and Implications for U.S. Policy," (Secret--Security Information), 25 September 1953, Foreign Service Despatch from U.S. High Commissioner in Germany/Berlin (HICOG/BE) to U.S. Department of State, in NA, RG 59, 762B.00/9-2253, p. 15.

168. All data on casualties are from "Tovarishchu Bulganinu N. A.," Report No. 942045 (Top Secret), 20 June 1953 (11:40 A.M.), in TsAMO, F. 16, Op. 139, D. 155, Ll. 34-35. The figure for Soviet casualties is confirmed by the lack of any entry for the 1953 crisis in G.F. Krivosheev, ed., Grif sekretnosti snyat: Poteri vooruzhenykh sil SSSR v voinakh, boevykh deistviyakh i voennykh konfliktakh--Statisticheskoe issledovanie (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1993).

169. U.S. Army/Europe, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, "Minimum Soviet Forces Required to Combat a Large-Scale Uprising in East Germany," Special Intelligence Estimate No. 2-58 (Secret), December 1958, esp. pp. 14-18.

170. See the illuminating firsthand accounts in Herrnstadt, Das Herrnstadt-Dokument, pp. 85-88; and Schenck, Im Vorzimmer der Diktatur, pp. 224-227.

171. "MVD SSSR" (Top Secret), 20 June 1953, High-Frequency Telephone Cable to Beria, from Sergei Goglidze, Pyotr Fedotov, and Ivan Fadeikin, in ASVR, F. 2589, T. 2, D. 68881, Ll. 328-329.

172. Armin Mitter, "Die Ereignisse im Juni und Juli 1953 in der DDR," Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, Vol. 20, No. 5 (1991), p. 33.

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