Since some regard it as a warcrime...
What did the Soviet Union want for Germany in 1945? Neither the decisiveness with which the Soviet occupiers went to work beginning in the early summer of 1945 nor the opaqueness of Soviet decision-making for outside observers should be allowed to conceal the fact that
Josef V. Stalin himself - after victory in "the Great Patriotic War", more than ever the final authority on decisions concerning German policy - for a time did not know exactly how he should deal with the defeated Reich. Those with influence over his decisions were often of diverse opinions. Decisions required time, and numerous essentially incompatible
conceptions were frequently pursued parallel to one another, exactly as was the case with the Western occupying powers.
There were certainly some essentials which Soviet policy on Germany had to look at in any event. First of all was the goal of security against Germany. Actually a self-evident concern given that German aggression had been repulsed only with the greatest of efforts, this was often overlooked by those speculating over Soviet goals in Germany. Considering deeply-rooted fears of Bolshevism, abhorrence of a Stalinist repression so contemptuous of humanity, and the widespread tendency of the Germans to evade their own responsibility, it was possible to lose sight of the fact that the Soviet Union was the victim of a German war
of aggression and that the Wehrmacht had conducted this war with the goal of completely exterminating its Bolshevik opponents. According to the most recent estimates, at least 27 million Soviet citizens became victims of this conflict, a figure representing 14 per cent of the prewar population . The Soviet state had been driven to the edge of collapse,
Stalin's rule had been severely shaken, and the western Soviet regions which had fallen into German hands had been largely laid waste. In this situation, any Soviet government would have attempted to exploit military victory first of all to take preventative measures against further German aggression. Stalin received support in this goal from all those who
speculated that Soviet victory would usher in a relaxation of the internal system of coercion.For Stalin, it was beyond question that the German problem would not be resolved by military victory alone, regardless of its totality. His fundamental distrust of capitalist powers and his profound respect for industrial might led him to reckon with a renewed threat from the Germans. "The Germans will rise again," he said sometime in August 1944 to the Polish Prime Minister Mikolajczyk:
They are a strong people. After Bismarck's triumph in 1871, forty years had to pass before they could undertake further aggression. When that failed, they needed a pause for recuperation of twenty or twenty-five years before they could try once again - this time, almost successfully. And who now knows if they won't be ready for battle again in twenty or
twenty-five years? Yes, Germany is a strong land although Hilter is in the process of weakening it. We're convinced that a threat from the German side will repeat itself. It is for this reason, the talks on collective security currently being conducted in Washington are so urgent. I myself am for every possible and impossible measure to suppress Germany.
In a conversation with the Yugoslavian government delegation visiting in April 1945 for the signing of the Yugoslav-Soviet mutual-assistance pact, he estimated that a German resurgence would come even sooner: They will recover and very quickly indeed. They are a highly developed industrial nation with an extremely qualified and large working class as well as a technical intelligentsia. Give them twelve or fifteen years, and they'll be back on their feet.German reparations as a contribution to Soviet reconstruction were almost as important as measures to safeguard against renewed German aggression. According to initial estimates
presented to Stalin by First Deputy Prime Minister N. A. Vosnessenskii at the end of 1945, war damage in the Soviet Union amounted to approximately 700 million roubles, some 30 per cent of national income.' Soviet representatives quoted a figure of $128 billion to the
Western powers in 1947, representing approximately the same sum at the official exchange rate of 5.3 to 1, which, however, greatly undervalued the rouble. Later estimates by economic historians fall within the same range. The Soviet economist Michael Tamarchenko reported that the Second World War had cost the Soviet Union the equivalent of two Five-Year Plans.' The American historian Susan Linz came to the conclusion on the basis of her own calculations that with support from American Lend-Lease Deliveries, UNRRA assistance, and reparations already taken into account, 30 per cent of the capital stock and eight to ten annual incomes of the entire 1945 population had been lost. By including disruptions of production due to population loss, one arrives at a total cost of eighteen to twenty-five annual incomes. The Soviet Union was thus far more dependent upon reparations from occupied Germany than were any of the other victorious powers. Measured against actual losses, the sum of $10 billion first claimed by Stalin for the Soviet Union at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 was indeed quite modest.
A third goal of Soviet policy on Germany was likewise obvious although hardly perceived by Western observers: the Soviet leadership had to prevent German potential from falling completely or largely into the hands of the Western powers. This danger loomed larger to the
Soviets than can initially be assumed from a look at the military outcome of the war. Those in positions of responsibility knew from ;,
analyses prepared by economists of the Soviet Academy of Sciences under the direction of Evgenii Varga that the European nations would emerge impoverished from the war whereas the US was enjoying a massive expansion of production. Varga, whom Stalin consulted regularly,
prophesied that overproduction would result from the transformation of the American war economy to a peacetime footing. As a consequence, there would be an American economic drive into the impoverished Europe, where new consumer and investment markets were to be won.' The political consequences of this American economic expansion were not easy to foresee. Given the great importance of economic factors in Marxist thinking and the profound distrust with which Stalin approached all capitalist powers, the obvious conclusion was that a new and dangerous opponent of the Soviet Union was manifesting itself. The idea of an alliance between American and German capital must have unleashed almost apocalyptic fear.It is not possible to determine exactly how widespread such ideas were in Moscow. According to the report of Jean-Richard Bloch, who accompanied French Communist Party General
Secretary Maurice Thorez in exile in Moscow, an influential segment of the Soviet leadership as early as 1944 regarded the "intensified subjugation" of France under its "Anglo-Saxon protectors" as unavoidable. Thorez won Stalin over to the idea ”that even if Anglo-Saxon influence could not be averted, it could be restricted by aiding France in pursuing an
independent policy” Similar considerations may also have applied to the other western European nations in light of the loyal cooperation evinced by Communist parties in national reconstruction. Even in those lands within the Red Army's sphere of influence, it can be seen that Soviet leaders were by no means certain as to their possibilities. Before they left Moscow at the end of 1944, it was impressed upon Czech Communist Party leaders that “the question of Sovietization is not to be raised.... That is not as simple an issue as many think". The Bulgarian General Secretary Traitschko Kostoff announced to his Central Committee in March 1945 that an "attempt to establish Soviet-style rule" upon the arrival of the Red Army in Bulgaria in the autumn of 1944 "would have caused us and the Soviet Union great difficulties" and "would not have been approved by the commanders of the Red Army". In any event, it is thus clear that military factors alone were not decisive in the Soviet view and that Soviet leaders felt themselves on the defensive in economic terms.No clear plan of action emerged, however, from the three imperatives of the Soviets' German
policy. Could the Western powers be trusted to the extent that a shared control of defeated Germany seemed possible? Was it prudent or dangerous to mobilize the Germans against the threat of American hegemony? What combination of coercion and concession was appropriate in order to prevent the Germans' following the imperialist course? How was the interest in reparations to be harmonized with the necessity of a permanent arrangement with the Germans? All these questions - which to an extent were posed by the Western powers in quite similar terms - could be answered in different ways, and we can be certain that Stalin did not find it easy to make these decisions.
As long as the Western Allies inclined toward resolving the German problem by dividing the Reich into several independent states, Stalin had signaled his readiness to assist in carrying out such a plan. For him, the dismemberment of Germany was certainly not an ideal solution. More important for him than the principle of division was that an agreement among the Big Three be reached on the future treatment of Germany. This is made clear when one considers that the initiative for the first dismemberment plan, discussed by Stalin and British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden in December 1941, did not by any means originate from
the Soviet side, as is usually claimed in the Western literature, but rather from Churchill. The British Prime Minister let it be known to Stalin just before Eden's visit that he deemed necessary the "complete disarmament of Germany for at least a full generation and the dismemberment of Germany into individual parts, above all the severing of Prussia from the other parts of Germany". Stalin reacted by suggesting that the Rhineland be separated off and that East Prussia as
well as additional German territories be ceded to Poland. Beyond this, he proposed that an independent Bavaria be established "eventually". He never attempted to make these dismemberment plans any more precise, however. In Teheran, he did accede to Roosevelt's
extreme dismemberment plan on the spot but in the same breath warned the US President of an inevitable German struggle for reunification. When the British wanted to establish a Dismemberment Committee in January 1944 to implement the decisions of the Teheran discussions, the Soviet representative on the. European Advisory Commission (EAC), Fedor
Gusev, torpedoed every attempt to specify plans, arguing that the Soviet delegation did not possess sufficient information or experts to examine the subject matter. At Yalta, Stalin did seek to have his allies pledge themselves to the principle of dismemberment, but added that a detailed determination was not necessary at the moment. In the draft of the
instrument of surrender, he very quickly satisfied himself with a formulation at least allowing for doubt as to the Allies' actual intention of dismembering Germany.The Dismemberment Committee established at Yalta received from the British delegation a draft of guidelines in which dismemberment was cited as one possibility among others, one to
be implemented "if necessary". After consultation with Moscow, Gusev agreed to this formulation on 28 March 1945. As the reason for this decision, he explained that "The Soviet government understands the Yalta Conference resolution not as an absolute commitment but rather as a possibility to put pressure on Germany in the event that other means do not prove effective enough in rendering that nation harmless." In the West, this was regarded as a significant change in the Soviet position and led the British to shelve dismemberment plans, which they had long considered problematic. In truth, it had simply become clear how little Stalin had actually identified with dismemberment plans.The British about-face on dismemberment sufficed to convince Stalin to stop pursuing the
project further. In so doing, he was not driven by the hope of soon securing the entire Ruhr area owing to favourable developments in the war, although this was quickly suspected in the West. Rather, he was merely adapting his position to the state of the discussion among his
allies. This adaptation demonstrates that he still concerned himself with fundamental consensus among the Big Three over the treatment of Germany but at the same time did not want to fall behind the Western Allies: if they were leaning away from the dismemberment principle, then in consideration of his own influence over the Germans, it seemed highly
unwise to cling to the issue.How pessimistic the responsible Soviet officials actually were in assessing their possibilities in Germany at the time of the Yalta Conference can be seen in a report presented to the West by Soviet Reparations Minister Vladimir Rudolph after his defection at the beginning of the 1950s. According to him, at the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945,“the Politburo had no confidence in the possibility of successfully Sovietizing even those parts of Germany occupied by Soviet troops. It was considered probable that the United States and Great Britain would insist on conditions of peace under which the Sovietization of Germany would be impossible. Some members of the Soviet government feared a repetition of the rapid German recovery after the First World War. Accordingly the idea was developed of the "economic disarmament of Germany", i.e., the dismantling of the German economy to a point where Germany would be unable for years, if not forever, to stage a comeback as a powerful state and a potential enemy.”
Rudolph's statements, whose precision and detail lend them thoroughgoing credibility in their basic lines, are confirmed by Soviet practice in regard to reparations. At Yalta, the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Maiskii presented a reparations plan envisioning an 80
percent reduction in German heavy industry. Moreover, in May 1945, the "Special Committee of the Council of People's Representatives" headed by Vice Premier Georgii M. Malenkov began requisitioning industrial goods and installations of all kinds in the Soviet Occupation Zone with the help of personnel who soon numbered seventy thousand. This was undertaken with great haste and more or less without planning. It shows that Moscow actually regarded an economic disarmament of Germany as urgent and had little confidence in the stability of the alliance among the victorious powers. If it were to collapse, all that remained would be an opportunity for the quick exploitation of the vanquished opponent. The hiving off of industrial facilities had to continue as long as the presence of the Red Army made it possible.
UNITY AS THE GOAL
Undoubtedly, with the Red Army's advance into central Germany vanished the Soviet worry that it would not be possible to exercise any influence over the reorganization of Germany. In its place, the idea spread that there could in the future be two German states, a Western
one and one under Soviet influence. Stalin's well-known statement, reported by Milovan Djilas at the reception of the Yugoslavian state and party delegation at the beginning of April 1945, pointed to this possibility: "This war is unlike those of the past; whoever
occupies an area also imposes his own social system there. Everyone introduces his own system as far as his army can advance. There can't be any other way." Warnings heard by German KPD-exiles in Moscow pointed in the same direction. KPD Chairman Wilhelm Pieck thus
spoke in March 1945 of the danger that "in the British and American Zones, efforts will be encouraged to create a counterpoise to the growing influence of the Soviet Union and to give reformist leaders of the Social Democrats and labor unions an opportunity to establish their influence over the workers at the expense of the Communists". In general, he assumed that the regimes of the victorious powers "in the three Occupation Zones will be rather different from one another". During schooling for the German emigres, Wolfgang Leonhard was told
that "the National Socialists [would] undoubtedly attempt to undermine the unity of the three victorious powers and to sow mistrust among them" . It was thus unambiguous what Pieck and presumably other top KPD functionaries were told when they spoke with Stalin, Molotov, and Zhdanov on 4 July about the future political conception of Germany:
"Prospects - there will be two Germanys - despite the unity of the Allies."For the Soviet leadership, nevertheless, the prospect of two German states was disconcerting in a way similar to the dismal vision in the winter of 1944-5. Since the weight of German industry lay in the west, into which American troops and their allies were then marching, the danger of an alliance between American and German capital was undiminished and further, the situation regarding urgently needed reparations continued to look unfavourable. From their perspective, the East-West division of Germany was thus not something to be accepted
easily, and certainly not a way station on the road to socialism. It was, rather, a danger to be confronted with all the means at their disposal. That follows from the logic of the situation and is strongly confirmed by the directives found in the source material. The Communists in Moscow exile were instructed, in cooperation with other "anti-fascist democratic forces, to support the activities of the occupying powers in the struggle to
eradicate Nazism and militarism and for the reeducation of the German people and for the implementation of democratic reforms". Expected attempts to drive a wedge between the Anglo-Saxons and the Soviets "must be combated ruthlessly".The strategic goal decided upon in discussions on 4 June went still further: "Secure the unity of prmany."If Stalin actually had been working towards the establishment of a separate state on the territory of the Soviet Zone, then he certainly would have had to reconsider the westward shift of Poland to the Oder and Western Neisse, a plan pursued in its essentials since 1941
and sanctioned by the Western Allies. By consenting to Polish demands for the annexation of Silesia, he did indeed strengthen the position of the Polish "Provisional Government" he had installed and did compensate for the westward shift of the Polish-Soviet border. At the same time, he decisively weakened the chances of survival for a state in the Eastern Zone by transferring the Upper Silesian industrial area to Poland. The unrestrained plundering of the Zone, beginning soon after the end of hostilities, daily deprived such a state of further resources. As long as this continued, a minority in Moscow could regard a state in the Soviet Zone as at most a second-best solution. For the official policy, the Zone served
only as a security, increasing the likelihood that the Soviet Union would have a say in the future organization of Germany. No separate concept was developed for the Zone as such. After a putsch against Hitler failed to materialize, Stalin clearly focused his hopes fully on the alliance of the Big Three. Only if this alliance remained intact after the war's end
could the spectre of an American-German pact be exorcised, only then could German society be transformed in such a way as to, pose no further threat, and only then was there a prospect of receiving reparations shipments from the Reich's heavy industrial centre along the Ruhr. First voiced at the Teheran Conference, Stalin's demand "to change the particular conditions in Germany with its Junkerdom and its large armaments firms" met with a basically-positive response among the Western Allies, and "progressive" forces in the US developed wide-ranging plans for such a reorganization of Germany. This strengthened
Stalin's hope for a common anti-fascist programme. To a certain extent, he allowed himself to be influenced by Varga's claim that the statist interventionism in economic life developed everywhere in Europe during the war would promote a transformation to "a democracy of a new kind". This would be characterized by social relations "in which
the feudal remnants, large estates, would be liquidated; private property and private means of production would still exist but large industrial concerns, transportation systems, and finance would be nationalized; and neither the state itself nor its apparatus would any longer serve the interests of the monopolist bourgeoisie". Clearly, Stalin was not fully
certain, as can be gathered from his anxious warning about "two Germanies".Exactly because the prospects for cooperation among the victorious powers in the reorganization of Germany were by no means heartening - and presumably even more sceptically assessed by the ever-mistrustful Stalin than by others - every effort had to be expended to
improve those prospects. Hence the exhortation to do everything to support the joint work of the Allies. Hence too the admonition not to confuse antifascist reorganization of Germany with socialist revolution. Before their departure for Germany, KPD cadres in Moscow were told that
the political goal does not consist in the realization of socialism in Germany or in the desire to bring about socialist development. On the contrary, these must be condemned and resisted as harmful tendencies. Germany is poised on the brink of a bourgeois-democratic
reorganization, which in its content and essence will be the fulfilment of the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1848. This fulfilment depends upon active support and upon resistance against any socialist solutions, as these would be nothing but pure demagogy under the current circumstances. The idea of socialism would only be discredited in such a
situation. Schooling in Moscow included special efforts to prepare KPD personnel for disputes in Germany with Genossen who wanted "to introduce socialism at last". Responsibility for the "bourgeois-democratic reorganization" lay unambiguously with the Allies:The occupying powers would come to Germany to eradicate fascism and militarism as well as to introduce the necessary measures for a democratic rebirth of the German people. The relevant measures are not yet known in detail; but it can be confidently assumed that besides the condemnation of war criminals, action against monopolist capitalism as well as action for land and school reform is being planned. It's a matter of actively cooperating in these reforms with meticulous attention to Allied instructions and of ensuring their strict implementation.The instructions issued in the spring were once again confirmed in top-level meetings with
Stalin at the beginning of June. Under the rubric "Character of the anti-fascist struggle", Pieck noted: "Completion of the bourgeois-democratic revolution / bourgeois-democratic government / break the power of the estate-owning nobles / eliminate the remnants of feudalism."" This demonstrates that the corresponding passages in the KPD platform of 11 June, still being edited in Moscow by Anton Ackermann after having been worked out with Georgii Dimitrov, were not a confidence game, but actually reflected what the Moscow leadership thought about Germany as a whole. Beyond that, it becomes clear that
the Communists actually had a democracy of the Western type in view when they spoke of "setting up an anti-fascist, democratic regime, a parliamentary-democratic republic".Contrary to the usual wholesale relegation of that 11 June platform to the category of People's Front rhetoric, it must be emphasized that its authors definitely had the concrete situation of occupied Germany in mind and thus offered a programme which they hoped the Western powers would also help to implement. That could only be a programme for eliminating
the authoritarian roots of National Socialism. In accordance with this - and in contrast to earlier discussions - a conception for the transition to socialism was lacking in all internal instructions and discussions. "The people must be told the truth," Ulbricht declared on 12 June. "The truth is that the anti-fascist Germany is still a capitalist nation."
This, of course, did not mean that the Communist leaders had given up their revolutionary goals for Germany. It meant only that, just as in Western European nations, these goals had to take second place to the strategic necessity of safeguarding Soviet power and, thus relegated, had to proceed into an uncertain future. Varga estimated that the postwar
consolidation phase of capitalism would last ten years or more and then the universally-expected great crisis of overproduction would develop. He clearly did not want to venture more precise pronouncements as to its conditions or course of development. Under the given circumstances, socialism in Germany was certainly a future concern. For the Soviet
state - and, according to the understanding of the Communist leaders, for the Communist world movement - much had already been accomplished if the German danger were eliminated and at the same time the American danger were contained. Additionally, parliamentary democracy with its antimonopolist component was strategically (and not just tactically) welcome, even if it contributed nothing for the moment to the defeat of capitalism in Germany. If one were dependent on cooperation with the Western powers - and in the given situation, that was the presupposition for a more or less tolerable peace - then such a democracy was a good basis. Fairly sober considerations of the situation in occupied Germany
could lead to no other programme. By no means was it the case that Stalin could have expected to have a free hand in all of Germany after an early withdrawal of American troops. In all analyses of the international
situation, the presence of the Western powers in Germany is considered a constant. Never is there a reference to Roosevelt's comment at the Yalta Conference that public opinion in the US would hardly allow him to keep US troops in Europe for more than two years. There is even
a document from the summer of 1949 indicating that the Soviet leadership definitely reckoned with a longer presence of the Western Allies: after a conversation with Vladimir Semyonov,
since 1946 acting as Political Advisor to the Chief of SMA, Pieck noted under the heading "Duration of the occupation": "10 to 100 years". This was the American figure from 10 February 1945, i.e., from the closing stages of the Yalta Conference. For 1946, statements by Dean Acheson ("at least 25 [years]") and Eisenhower ("a long time") were cited. Given
Stalin's great respect for the Western powers, he must have considered it completely unrealistic that Soviet troops could be maintained on German territory longer than American troops could. He complained in 1947 that owing to the delay in making a peace treaty, the Red Army had "to remain in Germany longer than we would like" . This demonstrates that he understood the presence of occupation forces to be of limited duration, justified solely by the necessity of a democratic reorganization and limited to the period of that reorganization.Moreover, it can be seen that Stalin worried that a joint occupation would not last long enough to complete the requisite reorganization of Germany. At the first Foreign Ministers'
Conference in London in September 1945, American Secretary of State James F. Byrnes reminded his colleague Molotov that Stalin had spoken at Yalta of the "danger that, as after the last war, the United States might return home and withdraw from European affairs, at which time the danger of a recrudescence of German aggression might become real". Such a statement is not to be found in the published Yalta protocols, but Molotov neither contradicted it nor showed any surprise at it. Instead, he immediately greeted the suggestion of a four-power pact for the disarmament of Germany, with which Byrnes sought to respond to Stalin's
worries, as "a very interesting idea". In Washington a year later, Soviet ambassador Nikolai Novikov wrote an analysis of the current situation in which he warned his Moscow headquarters that the Americans were
considering "the possibility of terminating the Allied occupation of German territory before the main tasks of occupation - the demilitarization and democratization of Germany - have been implemented". He added in explanation that "this would create the prerequisites for the revival of an imperialist Germany, which the United States plans to use in a future war on its side. One cannot help seeing that such a policy [of prematurely ending the occupation] has a clearly outlined anti-Soviet edge and constitutes a serious danger to the cause of peace."
Regardless of the role played by this document in the Soviets' internal decision-making process, its author must have assumed that Stalin would find plausible the argument that a premature end to the American occupation would endanger the peace. This indicates once again
that the Soviet dictator definitely welcomed the American occupation forces as an instrument for reorganization. Given his respect for German capabilities and given his own weakness, it is even likely that he was convinced that elimination of the German threat was dependent on
the support of the Western Allies.
FROM MILITARY REGIME TO MULTIPARTY STATE
Initially, Stalin thus set his hopes fully on cooperation among the Allies. The Germans were seen mainly as the objects of re-education, to whom political responsibility could be entrusted only after a rather long phase of reorganization. In March 1945, the German Communists in Moscow were told that "a long period of occupation would probably follow
the victory. It may even be a matter of years before German political parties would be allowed. The task of the anti-fascist democratic forces is thus to cooperate actively in the local German administrations which would carry out their activities following the instructions of the Allies."[i/] According to this, a Communist Party was not initially envisioned. As soon as German organizations were allowed, the Communists should instead take part in creating a broad anti-fascist democratic mass organization under the name "Aggressive Democracy Bloc". To justify this limited form of German participation, explicit reference was made to the fact that Germany had given rise to no resistance movement worthy of mention, and the "unity of the anti-Hitler coalition" was thus the guarantee of victory.Such a conception was fully compatible with plans to divide Germany into several independent states, even if not a single word of such plans was mentioned to the German Communists. In any event,
Stalin no longer regarded division as very likely after the hesitancy of the Western Allies became known at Yalta; fundamentally, he was still prepared to follow the Western lead in this question. In practice, the Red Army initially did not at all hinder the various anti-fascist committees which formed in many places at the moment of collapse." Their
spontaneous and decentralized activity fitted very well with the idea that reorganization would primarily be carried out by the Allies working together.After the German capitulation, however, this concept was modified in two stages. First, Stalin decided to offer the Germans national unity unambiguously. Without any longer showing consideration for divergent opinions among the Western Allies, he publicly declared in his
victory speech of 9 May that the Soviet Union celebrated the victory "even if it was not preparing to dismember or destroy Germany". With that pronouncement, the dismemberment concept was considered closed once and for all. In the moment of their defeat, the Germans
were promised a much more attractive future than that sought by the Allies with their demand for "unconditional surrender" up until the last months of the war. Barely four weeks later, Stalin also promised the Germans an early opportunity to participate in reorganizing their nation. At the beginning of June, Walter Ulbricht, Anton Ackermann, and Gustav Sobottka, who headed the three Initiative Groups supporting the Red
Army in its administration of occupied areas, were summoned back to Moscow. Stretching the truth some little bit, Stalin initially presented himself once again as the advocate of national unity. Pieck noted: [i]"Plan to dismember Germany existed on the Anglo-American
side.... Stalin opposed it." Then they learned, per an order of 26 May, that parties and labour unions, which were not to be formed for a period of years, were now permitted. (Pieck added in explanation: "Thus SPD, Centre Party; not to be promoted by us.") It also followed from this: "Central Committee should work openly - toward the goal of forming a workers' party." This party was supposed to play a key role in the prevention of divisive tendencies between East and West: "Secure German unity through a unified KPD / unified Central Committee / unified workers' party / unified party as the centerpiece." The
establishment of a "bourgeois democratic government" would be sought in the medium term. One can only speculate as to what induced Stalin to involve the Germans in the reorganization programme to a much greater extent than had initially been planned. It is possible that the wealth of Antifa activity corrected the pessimistic image of the Germans
which Stalin had held since the failure of the conspiracy of 20 July 1944. It is also possible that he recognized the necessity of mobilizing the Germans for their national unity ever since the danger of the four-power administration's failure had grown following Roosevelt's death on
12 April and the consequent weakening of the "progressive" wing among American policy makers. Perhaps it was only that he saw that the partisans of dismemberment were losing ground in the American decision-making process. If he were the first to adopt a solution that was already in the air, he could undoubtedly secure an impressive advantage in Germany. Not to be excluded is the possibility that efforts of German Communists played a role in making sure that the KPD would figure more actively in cooperation with Moscow. In any case, it was reported of Ulbricht that he had "already received the new directives from Moscow
in the latter half of May to prepare for the refounding of the German Communist Party"; and he then rigorously pursued the dissolution of the Antifa committees. To what extent he thus anticipated a decision from Stalin must remain open.To launch the modified reorganization concept, Stalin skilfully made use of the circumstance that the Western Allies' troops had reached Saxony, Thuringia and Mecklenburg, but not
Berlin. Before the Western Allies could take up the occupation of the western sectors of the capital at the beginning of July as had been planned, the authorization of "anti-fascist democratic parties" had been proclaimed on 10 June: the KPD, SPD, CDU, and finally the LDPD
(on 5 July) established themselves. Moreover, the Social Democrats and the Communists had on 19 June agreed to work together in forming "Action Committees". This rapid advance without
the consent of the Western Allies was clearly aiming toward an anti-fascist reorganization of the entire occupied area using the old capital of the Reich as a base. In the process, the politicians who had now become party founders were firmly assured that they would be needed for a new democratic beginning. Marshal Zhukov explained to the members of the SPD Central Committee: "Gentlemen, I have been sent to Berlin and to the Occupation Zone with the task - a task given by Moscow - to develop a democratic regime here. I am well aware that in accomplishing this task, I cannot primarily count on the Communist Party; but rather
I am dependent on you, as I know that you have the masses behind you." Ulbricht quickly let it be known at the first meeting of the KPD Central Committee that the socialist planks in the SPD platform of 15 June were not those currently held: "Democracy, not socialism,
is the order of the day."' In pushing through this concept among the Communists who had remained in Germany, the strategic necessities were to an extent quite openly addressed. Thus, according to notes for
a speech, Leipzig KPD leader Fritz Selbmann explained in July 1945 that "Germany [is] now divided into zones of occupation, and the policy of the KPD must never be intended for only one of these zones." Moreover, he justified the deferment of all Sovietization plans as
furthering "the strategic goal of democracy" by claiming that "upon the ruins of Germany ... no socialism" could be built and that "the German people ... [are] ideologically unready for Sovietization".
Nevertheless, those returning from Moscow had great difficulty in explaining to their Altgenossen a party line implying the "completely unhindered development of free trade and of private entrepreneurial initiative on the basis of private property" and leaving open the question of the future of the socialist programme. Not corresponding at all to the hopes most Communists had attached to the collapse of the National Socialist (NS) regime and the arrival of Soviet troops, this line inspired resistance which was only broken through the material support of the Central Committee by SMA and through the recruitment of many new
party members. This once again makes clear, indirectly, that this policy constituted not only a break with the binding party line up to 1933 but also a fundamental qualification of the party line of the Seventh World Congress of 1935.
Socialism was first mentioned again when a common programmatic basis had to be negotiated with the Social Democrats during the campaign for the unification of both workers' parties. On 19 December 1945, the KPD Central Committee passed along a draft resolution on the unification question to the SPD Central Committee for the upcoming "Conference of Sixty". Following Lenin's Two-Revolutions Theory of 1905, this draft referred to socialism as the more comprehensive political goal after the establishment of parliamentary democracy:The programme of this [unified] party should minimally call for the completion of Germany's democratic renewal in the sense of establishing an anti-fascist democratic
republic of a parliamentary nature. Maximally, the programme should call for the realization of social- . ism through the exercise of political dominance by the working class in the sense of the teachings of strict Marxism. Further, this formulation for the first time provided that the special conditions in Germany be considered not only in the current situation but also in the future transition to socialism:In the realization of the minimal programme, it [the Unity Party] should embark upon a
special path given the specificity of our nation's development. The total suppression of the old state power apparatus and the decisive continuation of democratic renewal in Germany can also create special forms of transition to political dominance by the working class and to
socialism. The prospects for socialism were, however, not made any more concrete in all this. Without giving up the immediate task at hand, social democratic questions concerning the path to socialism were taken into account through allusion to a connection between the current
democratization programme and the future transition to socialism.
Stalin went a remarkable step further. When Ulbricht raised the programme question with him during their next meeting at the beginning of February 1946,56 Stalin affirmed not only the differentiation between the minimal programme ("the unity of Germany") and the socialistic
maximal programme but also unambiguously committed himself to the democratic path in the "transition question" as well. Directly after Ulbricht's return, Pieck noted: "Situation completely different / in Russia the shortest path / working-class dominance ... / parl. traditions in the West / on the democratic path to workers' power / not dictatorship."Over and above that, he held to Stalin's pronouncements on elements of the democratic path: "purging of the state apparatus / communalizing [sic] of firms, dispossessing the large landowners / socialism"."
Relativizing the Soviet path in this manner was neither some programmatic subterfuge to lure the Social Democrats onto the course set by the Unity Party, nor only a momentary inspiration on the part of the Soviet dictator. In a conversation with Tito in April 1945, he had already spoken of the possibility of a parliamentary-democratic path to socialism: "Today, socialism is even possible under the British monarchy. A revolution is no longer necessary everywhere. A delegation of British Labourites was here just a little while ago, and we spoke about that." In August 1946, as the "Labourites" had already been governing
Great Britain on their own for over a year, he once again expressed himself in the same vein to a delegation of Labour leaders. As Harold Laski reported, he mentioned ”the possibility that Great Britain could become a socialist nation without having to undergo the stages of a dictatorship of the proletariat, violent revolution, or suppression
of the bourgeois class. Stalin expressed the conviction that if the Labour Party realizes its programme of nationalizing industry, transport, finance, etc. and also implements a consistent foreign and domestic policy, it could reach the same level of socialist development as the Soviet Union, if not a higher one. Naturally, this would take longer and would demand a greater degree of patience toward the capitalist class; but it is nevertheless possible to achieve socialism through democratic-socialist methods. “
Stalin was again following Varga, who perceived a strengthening of the proletariat in the weakening of the monopoly bourgeoisie through the "democracy of a new kind" with its increasing state share in economic life. Implicit in this was the possibility of an evolutionary path to socialism. After the victory of the Labour Party in Britain and the formation of leftist coalition governments in France, Italy and Belgium, he drew the conclusion that the whole of Europe was on the road to socialism. "Today," he wrote in a reflection on the thirtieth anniversary of the October Revolution, "the struggle in Europe in its historical development is becoming more and more a struggle over the tempo and the forms of the transition from capitalism to socialism. Although the Russian path, the
Soviet system, undoubtedly represents the best and most rapid method of transition from capitalism to socialism, historical development shows, as Lenin predicted, that there are also other paths by which this goal can be reached." Of course, one must ask how seriously Stalin regarded these speculations on a non-Soviet socialism in the West. In light of fears expressed elsewhere, he can at most have entertained vague hopes for the future. What he ultimately envisioned as "socialism" in this context is difficult to understand. The internal consistency of his remarks on the
democratic path - made over a long period of time and made to very different listeners, among them Communist leaders such as Tito and Ulbricht - demonstrates that, despite his paranoia, Stalin by no means confined himself to the Leninist model of revolution. His concept of socialism was relatively open and was oriented toward what he regarded as required by the interests of the Soviet state. The Realpolitik necessities which he saw at war's end not only determined his programme but also encroached upon his thoughts as to the future of socialism. Democratic socialism became a possibility in his eyes; and in the German case, it even became the only conceivable option. If he actually meant "all Germany must become ours" when speaking to Yugoslav and Bulgarian party leaders in the spring of 1946 - Djilas reports somewhat imprecisely of statements by "Stalin and the Soviet leaders" and quotes only at second hand - then he by no means had the Soviet model of socialism in
mind. The KPD leadership adopted Stalin's thesis of the democratic path in less than its full scope. In a subsequently oft-quoted article on the "special German path to socialism" written by Ackermann after Ulbricht's return from Moscow, autonomy from the Soviet model was
even more clearly stressed than in the draft resolution of 19 December. But the pursuit of the democratic path was made forthrightly dependent upon the success of the democratic transformation in the meantime: "No one desires more ardently than we that new open struggles, new spilling of blood, be avoided"; the possibility was not to be excluded, however.' In accordance with this, the "principles and goals" of the Unity Party, scussed during this time, included the statement that "the SED seeks the democratic path to socialism; it will, however, resort to revolutionary means if the capitalist class abandons the foundation of democracy" . This limitation clearly resulted from a recourse to Marx and Lenin, indispensable for a theoretical justification of the special path, which
Ackermann had to produce. As he wrote, one could gather from the classic works that, "under special circumstances, it [was] also possible to succeed without suppressing the bourgeois state's machinery", that is, "given the premise that the bourgeois-democratic regime cannot
shore itself up by means of militarism or a reactionary bureaucracy". Consequently, the "completion of the bourgeois-democratic transformation" could be and had to be justified as the prerequisite for the democratic path to socialism. "If this task is accomplished," wrote
Ulbricht in the second issue of Einheit, "then the democratic path is safeguarded."It is not possible to read substantial dissent against Stalin's ideas into the reference to the "revolutionary" alternative. Rather, that reference illustrates once again the difficulty which the German Genossen had in implementing a programme lacking a well-founded perspective on socialism. At the same time, it underscores once again the fact that the
Communists did not seek to dupe gullible Social Democrats in the discussion of the programme. They insisted upon a successful bourgeois democratic transformation as prerequisite for socialism and in connection with it, gave their assurance that the peaceful path was, of course, the preferred path. That the efforts of the German Communists were still concentrated on the democratic programme is indirectly demonstrated here: the transition to socialism was a theoretical problem for which convincing answers were hard to come by given the discrepancy between the Marxist-Leninist model of action and the current agenda.
The Soviet leadership was quickly able to achieve some initial successes. With more or less clear intimations that cooperation among anti-fascist parties was the prerequisite for obtaining permission to undertake political activity, it was possible to convince the leaders of both "bourgeois" parties, the CDU and the LDPD, to agree to the formation of a
"Bloc of Anti-Fascist Democratic Parties". This corresponded to the proposal included in the KPD platform of 11 June. The Social Democrats were immediately receptive to the idea of organized cooperation anyway, but insisted that decisions be reached only "by way of consensus". In this form, the "United Front" came into existence on 14 July, the name being
a concession to the bourgeois parties. The United Front guaranteed to all the parties first of all that they could not be outvoted by coalitions formed against them. It also opened up the prospect of Communist participation in a future government - at least wherever it was possible to push through the party structure as stage managed from Berlin.
This development was at the same time a step toward an "anti-fascist" party structure in all four occupation zones. At least this appeared to suggest itself at the next meeting of the Big Three beginning on 17 July in Potsdam. The Americans brought with them a draft of directives on the future treatment of Germany. These called for not only a thoroughgoing
denazification and the gradual rebuilding of political life including democratic parties, but also the "elimination of the existing excessive concentration of the economy, especially as seen in cartels, syndicates, trusts, and other monopolistic combinations" . By way of supplement, Molotov needed only to propose the "organization of a Central German
Administration", and then a common political programme essentially corresponding to Soviet ideas was complete. The final formulation of the Potsdam accord did not specify the shape of a future government for all of Germany as clearly as the Soviet proposal did, though. The Western Allies were only prepared to commit themselves to the formation of "some important centralized German administrative departments", not, however, to the coordination of the activity of the provincial administrations or the centralized oversight of "functions connected to resolving questions regarding Germany as a whole".' On this basis, a common Allied line on German policy could nevertheless be promulgated, a development which up to this time had been hoped for only on the Soviet side. On the other hand, it was less important in the Soviet view that the Western powers at Potsdam suggested the Soviets content themselves initially with taking needed reparations from only their own zone. It was also less important that the Western Allies had earmarked
for the Soviets some 25 per cent of the Western Zones' industrial facilities deemed "unnecessary for the German peacetime economy" without having determined the future level of peacetime production: 15 percent was to be delivered in return for Soviet shipments of food and raw materials and the remaining 10 percent without any shipments in return. Neither was it by any means perceived as a serious setback that the Soviet demand for a four-power administration of the Ruhr to assume possession of the regions' industrial products as reparations had been deferred. What had not yet been stipulated could well be secured in the
future. Since Byrnes repeatedly assured Molotov that the two-stage handling of the reparations question did nothing to alter the American determination that all four zones be treated as a single economic unit , the Soviets remained hopeful. At the close of the conference, Stalin explicitly praised Byrnes for his efforts to obtain productive results,
and Pravda made reference to a "successful conclusion", which "has strengthened the bonds among the Allies". According to Gregori Klimov, an SMA officer of the Allied Kommandatura in Berlin, the results of Potsdam were regarded in Moscow as "the greatest victory of Soviet
diplomacy". Before the Potsdam Conference worked out a decision on the question of centralized administration on 30 and 31 July, the SMA had begun setting up "Central German Administrations" in its zone. Grotewohl was asked on 20 July to name Social Democratic candidates for the direction of these administrations. An official "order" went out on 27
July for them to be set up. As Arkadii A. Sobolev, political advisor to Marshal Zhukov, explained to his British colleague Christopher Steel at the beginning of September, this was first of all a measure for more effective control and coordination of state and provincial administration of the Soviet Zone by the SMA, but also a step in the direction of a single
administration for Germany as a whole . Lt General F. E. Bokov told Grotewohl that "it is possible for this group of economists to transform itself into a political authority at some later point. At the moment, however, it is merely a question of choosing experts who are highly qualified and at the same time are as popular as possible so that their names would be well known everywhere, including in western areas of the Reich, and who already have a particular programme to present".' The heads of the Central Administrations were then given to understand that if they proved themselves at this level, they could entertain hopes of receiving top positions in the German-wide administration." After the programme for all of Germany had been sanctioned at the Potsdam Conference, it is clear that the Soviet leadership was determined to make swift progress in its implementation and, in so doing, utilize the human resources available in Berlin to their full extent.