STALIN AND THE LEADERS OF THE SOCIALIST UNITY PARTY OF GERMANY, WILHELM PIECK AND OTTO GROTEWOHL

The creation of East Germany, archive 1949 | Germany | The Guardian

Record of a conversation between Cde. I. V. Stalin and the leaders of the

Socialist Unity Party of Germany Wilhelm Pieck and Otto Grotewohl,

26 March 1948, at 1900 hours

Top Secret

Present: V. M. Molotov, A. A. Zhdanov, G. M. Malenkov, V. S. Semenov (SVAG [Soviet Military Administration in Germany]), and interpreters – G. Ya. Korotkevich and F. Elsner.

PIECK thanked I. V. Stalin for the welcome and also for the aid which the Soviet Military Administration in Germany gives the SED [Socialist Unity Party].

I. V. STALIN asks whether the Military Administration is actually giving aid or if this is a compliment.

PIECK and GROTEWOHL say that they are actually receiving aid.

STALIN, joking, asks again, does this mean that they don’t just oppress you, but also give aid?

PIECK, laughing, confirms [this]. Then he says that he will describe political issues and Grotewohl economic [ones]. In Pieck’s words, the exacerbation of the conflicts between the Allies on the issues of an imperialistic or democratic peace with Germany, the unity or dismemberment of Germany, and its democratic development or colonialization by means of the Marshall Plan are influencing the mood of the German people. These conflicts are not so clear to the broad masses but they are influencing the mood of the masses, especially in Berlin. The Western powers are trying to influence the population and direct it against the USSR, arousing hostility against communism which supposedly wants to crush [poglotit’] the people, take the Germans’ private property away from them, etc.

STALIN laughs.

PIECK says that although this propaganda is stupid it has an influence on a population brought up in an anti-Communist atmosphere even back in the Weimar Republic and then under Hitler. One of the factors which promote anti-Soviet sentiments among Germans is the arrests of Germans without any communication between those arrested and relatives.

STALIN asks, who arrested these Germans?

In PIECK’s words the Soviet occupation authorities are making the arrests; after arrest these people sort of disappear from life, they are not afforded an opportunity to communicate with relatives, and there are no public trials. The population ascribes blame to the SED which supposedly doesn’t want to change this, but could. Pieck suggests that in important arrests both SED chairmen would be informed by the Soviet Military Administration, that correspondence between those arrested and relatives be permitted, and that open trials be set up. Pieck explains that in the west of Germany the occupation authorities also make large-scale arrests but there communications with relatives is permitted and from time to time open trials are held, which relieves the atmosphere.

STALIN asks perhaps those arrested by the Soviet authorities are foreign agents or spies?

PIECK replied affirmatively, but points out that there are other arrests made through denunciations by reactionaries. Arrested fascists from the ‘Werewolf [Organization],” for example, sometimes inform against Social Democrats in order to ease their own situation. There have been arrests of socialist-minded youth and also politically reliable SED people based on such inaccurate statements. It would be good to know the reasons for such arrests and also to free wrongly arrested people from internment camps.

STALIN asks why SED leaders did not write here about this.

PIECK replied that they did not want to bother I. V. Stalin with appeals about minor matters.

STALIN remarks, ‘What kind of bother this is!”

PIECK says that they wanted to describe a request about this here and consider it necessary to reexamine the methods without abolishing measures needed to ensure security. Difficulties for the Party also arose from expropriations of property in connection with land reform and the confiscation of enterprises from fascist and war criminals. Some mistakes were committed in the process, although the Party thinks of course that these democratic reforms are absolutely necessary.

STALIN asks, who performed the expropriation?

SEMENOV replies that the land reform was concluded by German agencies back in the autumn of 1945 and that there has been no further expropriation of land. The expropriation of enterprises of fascist and war criminals was made by decisions of German commissions in Lander and the SVAG only approved these decisions.

PIECK acknowledges that land reform has concluded but the confiscation of enterprises is continuing.

STALIN asks, to whom are the confiscated enterprises transferred?

PIECK replies that they are transferred to the ownership of German control bodies.

STALIN stresses that thus these enterprises will be transferred to the German public and not to the Russians.

PIECK mentions that part of the enterprises went to the ownership of Soviet joint-stock companies.

STALIN asks, whether enterprises are being transferred to Soviet joint-stock companies now?

PIECK does not reply to this question directly and talks about new confiscations of property in the zone for German control bodies.

STALIN asks, who is doing the confiscations?

PIECK replies that they are done by German commissions, but bourgeois parties are protesting this measure.

STALIN says that he, Stalin, has authority over the Soviet Military Administration but not over Germans. The first complaint is with regard to the Administration. He, Stalin, accepts it. The second is against Germans . . .

PIECK says that he wanted to show by this what difficulties the Party is encountering.

STALIN notes, “I understand.”

PIECK then talks about the growth of the influence of the SED among the masses, especially in connection with the people’s congress. The SED is fighting the Marshall Plan and the creation of a west German state. Therefore sharp differences arise with the western powers which lead to terrorist measures against the SED. Thanks to the people’s congress the Party managed to attract a large number of bourgeois elements in the movement. Two sessions of the congress were held. The first was convened during the London Session of Ministers of Foreign Affairs [SMID]. A delegation was selected which the SMID refused to grant a hearing. The second congress was held on the anniversary of the Revolution of 1848 and decided to collect signatures for a petition to hold a popular vote on the issue of the unity of Germany and also elected a people’s council of 400 members comprising a small parliament. The second congress also adopted a decision on the democratic and economic structure of Germany. The first congress was more impulsive and the second more businesslike. Two thousand two hundred participated in the first congress, of which 460 were from the western zones. Two thousand participated in the second congress, of which 512 were from the western zones. Most of the representatives from the western zones crossed the border illegally. Nevertheless, matters proceeded without arrests. There were 600 SED representatives at the first congress and 360 at the second. By reducing the number of SED representatives they wanted to show that the congress was not just an SED affair.

STALIN asked, to what party did those who come to the congress from the West belong?

PIECK replies that 80% were Communists. But there were also notable people from bourgeois parties.

STALIN asks for confirmation of this.

PIECK mentions Prof. [Hesterman] from Munster, who spoke in the debates at the German People’s Congress. There were also representatives from other parties, including the SPD [Social Democratic Party]. The second congress went successfully, which was evident from the measures against the congress adopted by the occupation authorities of the western powers who prohibited the congress and brazenly agitated against it even in the Control Council, where Robertson made insulting attacks on the congress. The SED turned to the British government with a request to force Robertson to take back his insulting remarks.

Pieck then cited data about the makeup of the People’s Council to which 300 members were elected from the Soviet zone and 100 from the western zones. There was a total of 85 SED members elected, about 10 from the SPD, and the rest were representatives of other parties and mass organizations.

STALIN asks again, “were Social Democrats also in it?”

PIECK replies affirmatively. He said further that administrative measures in the Soviet zone have a certain influence on the population, especially the transfer of the enterprises of fascist war criminals to the hands of the people. SVAG Order N° 324, which is based on the slogan ‘Work more to live better”, was of great help in increasing labor productivity. Some improvement of the economic situation has been achieved in the Soviet zone but all the same it remains difficult. The reorganization of the German Economic Commission 17 has great importance for administrative work. In contrast to the gradual economic improvement in the Soviet zone, a decline is being seen in the western occupation zones. The food situation there is worse.

STALIN asks, is the food supply worse in the west? Is this actually so?

PIECK confirms this and points out that there have been large-scale strikes there because of this. The British occupation authorities tried to ascribe a plan to turn the strikes into an uprising (the so-called “Plan M”) to the Communists. They wrote that the Communists have an even more dangerous “Plan R”. The SED announced right away that this is an invention of the British secret service; the British instead lost interest in dealing with these “plans” anymore. The Party received certain support in this from CDU [Christian Democratic Union] representative [Semler] in the two-zone Economic Council, who criticized the American policy in the West, stressing that it was leading to poverty and that the CDU is leading the strike itself. Clay declared that Semler is lying. Clay did not approve his election when the CDU of Bavaria elected Semler as its representative to the two-zone Economic Council.

Pieck further pointed to the phoniness of denazification in the western zones where old reactionary personnel remained in leadership posts in control bodies. Fascist officers are in judicial bodies and the police. Even Schumacher was forced to protest about this. There is no doubt that Schumacher is a British agent and that his statement had the purpose of calming the SPD. The British and the Americans are also obstructing any nationalization of industry in their zones. Propagandizing the Marshall Plan, they talk about the aid which they are supposedly planning to grant Germany. SED counter-agitation on this issue has not become so active as on the issue of the unity of Germany as a consequence of the illusions spread among the population associated with the Marshall Plan. The Party has not yet managed to involve the broad masses in fighting the Marshall Plan. The KPG [Communist Party of Germany] is organizationally and politically weak in the western zones. We view it as a party under the common leadership of the SED. The KPG has announced its acceptance of the principles and goals of the SED. KPG-SED working cooperation committees have been organized in the west but these committees have not been recognized by the occupation authorities. The KPG organization numbers 312,500 members and the SPD – 800,000.

STALIN asks, this is where, in the west?

PIECK confirms this. The KPG representation in the landtags is so small. In 12 Lander of the western zones the Communist have 83 seats of 1300, that is, 6.3%.

STALIN asks, is the KPG formally shut down in the western occupation zones?

PIECK replies in the negative. He then points out that the Communists received 9.1 % of the 20 million votes in the elections of the western zones. However, the influence of the KPG in enterprises is larger, especially in the Ruhr, where the Communists received 34% of the votes in the elections to production councils. The weakness of the KPG is in the lack of overall leadership. Up to now the leadership bodies existed only in the Lander but cooperation between the Party organizations of the Lander was weak. At the last SED CC plenum it was decided to create a single bureau for all the western zones which would have three well-trained comrades working in the western zones.

STALIN asks, why have the Communists and part of the Social Democrats not united into one common party?

PIECK replies that Schumacher is sharply against unity and expels anyone from the SPD who tries to advocate uniting with the Communists.

STALIN asks, is there any sort of opposition among the Social Democrats?

PIECK replies affirmatively. It is developing the more it becomes clearer that the SPD is harming the workers’ movement. For his part, Schumacher is trying to counter this by slandering the Communists.

STALIN says that he means something else. If there were a united party in the west then it would be better. It is advisable to remove the Communist sign which is scaring many people. This would be good. With such a unification it would be sufficient if only some Social Democrats switched to the united party. PIECK explains that they rejected a united party; when it was proposed, the reproach was that the SED is a renaming of the KPG.

STALIN notes that if there is any opposition in the SPD in the west then it would be possible bring it into a united party and carry out unification. Is this really impossible?

PIECK says that this is possible and refers to the example in Dortmund where in fact a united party organization was created.

STALIN asks, is this perhaps disadvantageous?

GROTWOHL says that unification is impossible since the occupation authorities are prohibiting the renaming of the Communist Party and the unification of the workers’ parties.

STALIN asks again, is unification being prohibited?

MOLOTOV confirms that is it being prohibited.

PIECK points out that the western occupation authorities are prohibiting even joint meetings of Social Democrats and Communists.

STALIN asks, do the occupation authorities really need the Communist sign? Then he explains that persecution against Communism is so strong that right now it scares the population away.

PIECK cites an example of the occupation authorities forcing signs about the people’s congress in Bremen to be signed by the KPG in order to scare the population.

STALIN comments – scoundrels. They need this scarecrow, this bugaboo.

PIECK talks about the difficulties of work for Communists in western Germany as a consequence of which not long ago orders were given to mix legal work with illegal [work] and prepare to switch to an illegal status.

STALIN says, “but if the Communists declare themselves a workers’ party, as they did in Poland!”

PIECKS says that they need to think about this but the permission of the occupation authorities, which they might refuse, is needed.

STALIN says that this needs to be tried. This wouldn’t be bad.

PIECK talks about the aid which the SED is giving the Communists of western Germany in personnel, paper, and money. Whereas in 1946 the KPG of the western zones was given 1.3 million marks, now they have been given 4.3 million marks. Pieck asks Stalin about transferring the Deutschlandsender radio station for German radio broadcasting; at the present time it is being used for relaying Moscow radio broadcasts to the Soviet occupation forces. The Berlin medium wave radio station put at the disposition of the Germans is not audible in western Germany, in particular, in the Ruhr.

STALIN asks, “is a single radio station sufficient?”

ELSNER says that Deutschlandsender is the most powerful radio station in Germany.

STALIN asks about the radio station in Nauen and receives the reply that it was destroyed during military operations.

Stalin asks what the distance is between Berlin and the Ruhr. He adds that it would be possible to give two radio stations so that the SED could cover all Europe with its programs.

PIECK repeats that the Berlin radio station at the disposition of the Germans is not audible in western Germany.

STALIN asks Pieck what he wants.

PIECK replies that they want to be given the Deutschlandsender radio station.

SEMENOV says that the Deutschlandsender is received by peoples’ receivers in all of Germany but peoples’ receivers do not receive the Berlin medium-wave station. He considers it possible to put Deutschlandsender at the disposition of the Germans, but Sokolovskiy objects to this.

MOLOTOV notes that at one time the SVAG objected to transferring this radio station to the Germans on the grounds that it ought to be under four-power control; hence if the SVAG had transferred this station to the Germans then the Allies would have take it for themselves.

SEMENOV confirms this and says that now this impediment has gone away.

STALIN says that we will transfer this station.

PIECK talks about the powerful propaganda apparatus which the western occupation authorities have in Berlin which the SED cannot even match. The SED is expanding agitation in the Soviet sector of Berlin, but in the western sectors the occupation authorities are interfering with work at enterprises, prohibit the hanging of signs, convening meetings, and they create Trotskyite groups. New elections will be held in Berlin this October. Pieck doesn’t think that the elections will be better for the SED than in 1946. They would be happy if the Allies were forced out of Berlin.

STALIN comments, let’s try with [our] common efforts; maybe we’ll force [them] out.

PIECK tells of the results of labor union elections in Berlin during which the SED lost votes, including among the metalworkers. This is a serious matter. They need to pursue a correct policy in order to make up what was lost. They need to overcome the weakness of the SED in political propaganda since it will be difficult if the Social Democratic opposition wins any more labor unions. The balance of strength between the SED and bourgeois parties in the Soviet zone comes down in favor of the SED. The Party received 47.6% of the seats in the elections to the landtags and has 50.5% together with the peasant mutual aid and Kulturbund parties. Both bourgeois parties, the CDU and the LDP, have 49.5% of the seats in the landtags. However, in some Lander the bourgeois parties have a weak majority in the landtags. Hence the need to maintain a [voting] bloc with these parties which exert a strong influence on the SED on political issues, especially when property issues are affected. Numerically, the SED is the strongest party in all of Germany and has 1,774,000 Party members. In the western zones and in Berlin the SPD numbers 800,000 members, including 45,000 members in Berlin. The SED has 108,000 members in Berlin. The bourgeois parties in the Soviet zone number 382,000 members and 31,000 in Berlin. Four million workers and white-collar workers have been organized into labor unions.

STALIN asks, where is this?

PIECK replies that it is in the Soviet zone. It comprises 64% of all those working in industry, transport, and in enterprises. The intra-Party situation in the SED has been improving recently. The internal cohesion of the Party is growing. However, there still remain vestiges of division among former Communists and former Social Democrats. Slander against opponents causes some wavering in the Party, for example, on the issue of the arrests. The Party is experiencing great difficulties in personnel for it has to send workers for control bodies, administrative bodies, mass organizations, the Party apparatus, the press, etc. The circle of trained workers from former Social Democrats is small. Therefore it is difficult to maintain parity, which will soon have to be abandoned. The training of personnel is also very important. This is the system of training personnel in the SED. Evenings on political issues are held in production groups and in groups by residence. In production organizations up to 50% of the Party members participate in them, but in non-production [groups] from 20 to 40%. District schools with 4800 students are operating in 115 districts (kreis). About 60,000 Party activists have passed through these schools. There are six three-month schools in Lander with 620 students. The highest level of Party education is the Higher Party School. Its course of study was recently extended to two years. They have 200 students and 27 instructors, who are very overworked. The Higher Party School has short-term [industrial] sector courses. A three-month Academy for Managerial Staff opened in May, which was then reorganized into a one-year Academy with 600 students. It will train high-level officials for administrative bodies and also instructors. Pieck talks of the Party’s intention to introduce a new discipline, “scientific socialism”, in six universities and three higher educational schools of the Soviet zone as a compulsory subject with an examination. This name was chosen in order to counter the propaganda against socialism from the West.

STALIN asks, did the other parties agree with this?

PIECK says that they should agree. Many talk about socialism in Germany but they represent something completely different as socialism. There are even Christian socialists.

STALIN again asks, do all parties agree with this?

PIECK continues that 20 docents need to be trained to pursue this plan. This is important in order to counter reactionary influences in the higher school. The SED wants to make this subject mandatory as long as students refuse.

STALIN laughs.

PIECK says that they announce to the students that the latter is not obligatory for socialists but if they are against Marxism then they should at least know what it is.

STALIN laughs and asks, but what are you saying, do they agree? For this will be done on government money, not Party [money].

PIECK says that they will carry this out and there will be no difficulties.

STALIN asks, there won’t?

PIECK replies affirmatively. He also says that Zolotukhin from the Soviet Military Administration supports this idea and is counting on achieving success. Pieck then says that of the 16,200 students of universities and higher schools of the Soviet zone only 4,600 students come from worker’s and peasant [families]. Four thousand two hundred students are SED members (26%), KhOS members are 7.5%, and LOP members are 9.2%. The remaining students are unaffiliated. Reactionaries hide under the label of unaffiliated. Of the student councils 36% are SED, 19% are KhOS members, 19% are LOP members, and 25% are unaffiliated.

Pieck says that thus the Party still has large tasks before it. They area also great with respect to work with bourgeois parties. Kaiser, speaking initially in favor of “Christian socialism”, recently tried to win the KhOS of the Soviet zone over to the side of the western powers. There is also great vacillation in the LOP, especially in Berlin where reactionaries were entrenched. It is necessary to find support inside these parties and remove the reactionaries. This can be done, relying on the people’s congress and speaking out for peace and the unification of Germany. Pieck speaks of the need to form a fourth party for former nominal Nazis who were resettlers from military districts and part of the POWs.

STALIN says that we know this. We have no objection. He asks, did [we/they] inform them of this?

PIECK replies affirmatively. He says that they have already begun this matter with the publication of the Nazional Zeitung newspaper. However, there are difficulties in selecting the leadership of this party inasmuch as people are needed for this who will not be against us, but also not too openly connected with us.

STALIN acknowledges.

PIECK says that the bourgeois parties are emphatically against the creation of such a new party since they understand that it will be developed at their expense.

Pieck then talks of the progress of the membership composition of the SED and that they are planning a verification [proverka] with the purpose of cleansing the Party of people who registered twice in the Party, by place of work and place of residence. The SED recently lost 12,500 members who left the partly due to dissatisfaction with the food supply and partly because the Party could not assimilate them in view of the weakness of educational work. During the same period 42,000 new Party members were accepted. Work needs to be strengthened to study and educate new Party members and, moreover, to pursue a individual recruiting campaign at enterprises. Summing up, Pieck says that they have two requests for Stalin, about the questions of arrest and the radio station.

STALIN says that he has written this down. He asks, is work being done among women?

PIECK replies that a Democratic Women’s Union exists and is working successfully among women.

STALIN asks, how are things with youth?

GROTWOHL points out that the Union of Free German Youth numbers 600,000 members and is working successfully among youth.

STALIN asks, is there such a union among Social Democrats in the West?

ELSNER replies affirmatively.

PIECK speaks of the weakness of Party work among intellectuals, although the SED has a decisive influence in the Kulturbund.

GROTEWOHL then speaks. He notes that the London Conference created a new situation for Germany. The Potsdam Agreement provided a clear procedure for working out a peace treaty for Germany. This has been destroyed. The Council of Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a body which can work out a peace treaty, is becoming superfluous. The question arises, who will make peace and what kind of peace will it be? In terms of international law Germany is in a vacuum [nakhoditsya v bezvozdushom prostranstve]. In the political sense it is deprived of a government. For a number of months the Control Council has not been able to decide on fundamental issues and after the 20 March meeting at which Sokolovskiy made a strongly worded demand about the London Conference of three powers, further work was curtailed. The Control Council is really not operating. There is no organization [instantsiya] to carry out the reparation plan for all of Germany. We have drawn conclusions from this for ourselves. A national calamity was declared at the people’s congress and a number of slogans were formulated. If there is no such body to perform German-wide tasks then the German people should embark on the path of national mutual aid. But national mutual aid is restricted by cases of interference by occupation authorities. After the collapse of the London Conference in December 1947 some separate measures were conducted in western Germany to reorganize the Economic Council and a government was actually formed. The core of the policy of the western occupation authorities in Germany is now the Marshall Plan. The discussion in the Control Council about financial reform is evidence of the danger of a separate financial reform in western Germany. This would mean the completion of the economic dismemberment of Germany. A separate financial reform is one of the primary elements of the Marshall Plan with respect to Germany. However, in the western zones most of the population is in a state of political apathy. They see the dollar and think that the Marshall Plan will give Germans an opportunity to live better. That’s how we assess the situation. Disappointment will come with respect to the economic results of the Marshall Plan since bourgeois policy precludes any kind of humaneness. In reality an increase of production and the development of exports of industrial goods is not being permitted in West Germany but the importation of raw material is growing and old monopolistic bodies are reviving; at the same time, the Ruhr is again being turned into a center of the armaments industry.

STALIN asks, is industry in the Ruhr improving?

GROTEWOHL says that the coal output in the Ruhr has increased to 300,000 tons a day.

STALIN asks about metal production in the Ruhr.

GROTEWOHL says that there is some increase in metals which has been achieved by using a food supply bonus system. There are no precise figures about industrial capacity in the western zones. Grotewohl continues, we are fighting against the Marshall Plan, for peace, against the dictatorship of monopolies, and for democracy. It is characteristic that hostility toward the Marshall Plan is developing among the German technical intelligentsia and business owners. The conviction is growing in these circles that the natural economic relations for Germany are with the east and southeastern Europe. Such an opinion is growing more quickly in these circles than even among workers. Grotewohl points out that the strikes in the western zones did not have a political nature, but were an expression of protest against hunger. Grotewohl then says that reactionary forces are directing their main thrust in their propaganda against Bolshevism, Russia, and the SED, which they identify with Russia. The SED is looking for a way to get out of such a situation. The most effective measure in this struggle is the organization of a self-supporting economic base in the Soviet zone. Therefore the economic problems of the Soviet zone are pushed to the forefront and which should be organically tied to the Party economic slogans for all Germany. The industrial production of the Soviet zone in 1936 came to 14.8 billion marks. In 1947 it was 9.4 billion marks, excluding the enterprises of Soviet joint stock companies, together with the production of which gross production of the zone is 10.4 billion marks. Thus, by comparison, industrial production has reached 56% of the 1936 level.

STALIN asks, whether comparable prices been taken into account in all this, and receives an affirmative reply.

GROTEWOHL says that according to the 1948 plan an increase of industrial production of the Soviet zone of 5% over 1947 was envisioned. We hope, he said, for an increase of production of 10%, but difficulties are arising which we cannot overcome alone. Grotewohl says that for a growth of industrial production of 10% they need the following quantities of raw material through imports: 250,000 tons of rolled metal and steel; 300,000 tons of hard coal; 22,000 tons of cotton; 1,700 tons of wool; 3,000 tons of flax; and 1,200 tons of hemp. In addition, from the production of Soviet joint stock companies they need to allocate 38,000 tons of artificial wool and 5,000 tons of artificial silk for the German economy. Touching on supply questions, Grotewohl said that at the present time in the Soviet zone they are issuing 1,500 calories per person per day. In 1950 they ought to increase the norms to 2,600 calories. But inasmuch as agriculture was seriously damaged as a result of the war the solution to this problem is impossible without the importation of food from abroad. Therefore they need to import 280,000 tons of grain, 120,000 tons of feed, and 1,200,000 tons of oilcake. The prewar requirement in meat and fats in the zone were 600,000 tons but now production is only 200,000 tons. Thus the shortage is 400,000 tons.

STALIN asks, has the population of the zone increased?

GROTEWOHL replies affirmatively.

When he cites the figure for demand in oilcake, STALIN asks, is this perhaps a mistake and says that Grotewohl is citing figures that are too large. GROTEWOHL admits the possibility of error. He then points out the need to create a foundation for the development of agriculture by importing feed for cattle and supplying fertilizers. The zone’s requirements in nitrogen fertilizers are calculated at 150,000 tons, which might be allotted from the production of the enterprises of Soviet joint stock companies. In addition, they need to import an additional 120,000 tons of phosphates. They also need to allocate 160,000 tons of coal to produce lime. The furnishing of these fertilizers could ensure a normal harvest in 1950. Grotewohl stipulated that all the figures he cited might be imprecise since he does not yet feel fully at home in the economic issues of the zone. Grotewohl then expressed a request that there be no reparations removals from the 1948 harvest. The reparations plan envisioned removals of sugar and alcohol for the fourth quarter. Grotewohl then cited figures for supplying the Party with paper, stressing the importance of this matter both for political propaganda as well as for the financial situation of the Party, which has large expenses for training personnel and maintaining a staff. Grotewohl pointed out that, in spite of an increase in Party members and the complexity of the issues before it, the SED is getting half as much paper in 1948 as it got in 1946.

STALIN asks, how much paper do you need?

GROTEWOHL replies that right now they’re getting 3,500 tons a quarter and the SVAG, 9,000 tons. This ask that the Party be allotted 3,000 additional tons of paper a quarter from these 9,000 tons.

Grotewohl then asks Stalin to give instructions to Soviet authorities to approve the agreement of DEFA, a mixed German-Soviet company, according to which the SED, as a stockholder of this company, would obtain the right to distribute German films in proportion to its capital in this company. This agreement was signed in Berlin but has not been approved in Moscow.

SEMENOV says that that agreement was not approved at the initiative of the Ministry of Cinematography but that the SVAG has advocated the approval of the agreement.

STALIN asks, why did [you] not write about this; don’t you know the way here?

Stalin told Grotewohl that we will discuss then and try to do everything possible.

Then STALIN asks, are there German police in the Soviet zone? In whose hands [are they]? Who controls them?

GROTEWOHL replies that the German police are under the control of the internal affairs bodies of the Lander and also of the Central Directorate of Internal Affairs of the Soviet zone.

STALIN asks about the strength of the police and their weaponry.

GROTEWOHL replies, that the police are poorly armed.

STALIN asks, are these reliable people?

GROTEWOHL replies, that 90% of them there are Party comrades. The ministers of internal affairs, he stressed, are all our people.

STALIN asks, but at HQ?

GROTEWOHL replies, also.

STALIN asks whether you think that the police need to be reinforced and paid well.

GROTEWOHL says that this a crucial issue, of course.

STALIN asks, what help do you need from us?

GROTEWOHL talks about the desirability of aid in training the police.

STALIN asks, do they have good people who could train the police?

GROTEWOHL says that in general there are few people for the police.

STALIN says that possibly they could be taken from the POWs.

GROTEWOHL says that they have part of the personnel in the police from the “Free Germany” committee and mentions in particular Colonel Markgraf, the Chief of the Berlin Police, and [Bechler], the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of one of the Lander.

STALIN says that if they need people from the POWs they can take them. He asks, has the number of people which can be supported been identified?

SEMENOV replies that as far as he remembers in view of the differences on this issue, the Control Council did not reach agreement but this needs to be verified.

STALIN says that if weapons are needed then German weapons, which of course we might have, can be used. Stalin stresses that the police are a very serious matter which needs to be discussed seriously. They will prove useful.

Stalin asks if there are other questions.

GROTEWOHL says that they wouldn’t like to carry out separate measures regarding governmental divisions during the further development of the Soviet zone before these measures are undertaken in the West.

STALIN comments that we have the same policy. This is a correct policy.

GROTEWOHL says that in this connection they are putting off the creation of a parliament and government in the Soviet zone.

STALIN approves.

GROTEWOHL says that the People’s Council should discuss individual questions but it does not have executive power and cannot adopt laws. STALIN says that this is right, but nevertheless you should create some surrogates or, rather, the nuclei (embryos} of a national German parliament and government.

GROTEWOHL says that the German Economic Commission is the nucleus of a government. They transmitted their wishes with respect to this commission in a special document.

STALIN says that he didn’t see this document and asks where they sent it. KOROTKEVICH says that the document was circulated from M.A. Suslov.

GROTEWOHL reads those measures from the circulated note about the German Economic Commission for which he is especially pressing, namely that the economic plan not be changed for a year without the agreement of the Economic Commission.

STALIN remarks, that’s good, but all the same are the Germans planning to pay reparations?

GROTEWOHL and PIECK confirm [this].

GROTEWOHL says that there should not, however, be removals beyond the reparations plan and the plan for occupational expenses. Otherwise it would be impossible to create the [economic] stimulus to develop the industrial initiative of the workers.

STALIN says that he understands this. Stalin then asks if Grotewohl knows how much the Russians get annually from reparations in millions of marks or dollars.

GROTEWOHL says that in 1948 1.2 billion marks were planned, which is 10% of the gross industrial production of the zone.

STALIN asks, how much will this be in dollars?

MOLOTOV replies that at a rate of 3 marks per American dollar this is $400,000,000.

STALIN asks, how is this, is it difficult?

GROTEWOHL did not reply. He said that they are very isolated and think that ties with other countries necessary. For this purpose they want to create commissions to study trade opportunities.

STALIN asks, with which countries?

GROTEWOHL replies, with Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland.

STALIN says, we can help you establish ties. If Germany is divided into two states then western Germany will remain without a market but eastern Germany will have a good market.

GROTEWOHL asks if there is a possibility for the Soviet zone to have a two- or three-year economic development plan in the future.

STALIN says that when the Economic Commission expands and becomes stronger then, in his opinion, it could be done.

GROTEWOHL says: in order to swim you have to go in the water.

STALIN agrees. We’ll teach you everything, he says. We, too, couldn’t do anything earlier but then we learned. Germans are capable people. They will learn no worse than we.

STALIN raises another issue. He says that it would be good if some organ of the People’s Congress worked out a German constitution and put it out for discussion both in western and eastern Germany. This constitution ought not be very democratic in order not to scare off people, but it should all the same be sufficiently democratic so that the best elements of the West and East could accept it. This would be very good. The entire population needs to be involved in discussion the constitution. This would create a psychological basis for implementing the unification of Germany.

PIECK says that the People’s Council has chosen a constitutional commission and also commissions on a peace treaty, economic issues, and other [commissions].

STALIN comments that this commission on a peace treaty is a formal issue. But he, Stalin, considers working out a constitution to be one of the primary factors to prepare the German population for unification. Words about unity cannot be repeated all the time. They hear them several times and they this bores everyone. A specific plan needs to be given and the population drawn into working out this document. This needs to be done more quickly. The problem is not in bringing about the constitution. This will not be soon. It needs to be made a key factor to prepare the masses for the unification of Germany. The British and the Americans will try to buy the Germans, to put them in a privileged position. There is [only] one tool against this – to prepare the minds of the people for unification. A constitution is a very good tool, a remarkable tool.

PIECK says that they already tried to do this through Party channels in 1946.

STALIN says that this is not right. The commission should work out a constitution and the congress should discuss it and approve it, after which it is released to the people. This will be a long process. If it takes several years then you’ll profit from this. If minds are prepared for this idea then it will be impossible to wreck unification. Then the Americans will have to capitulate. It will be good if you take this advice.

GROTEWOHL stated that they are of the same opinion and this will provide an opportunity for concrete agitation.

STALIN confirms [this]. All the people expect this and they will receive material. And no America will be able to do anything with this. By this means you will link the entire population with the congress. The authority of the congress needs to be raised. Stalin says that the unification of Germany will not come right away. It’s necessary to fight for the unification of Germany with agitation and propaganda.

Stalin asks what other questions there are and whether they in a hurry to leave.

PIECK says that they are in a hurry and plan to fly out on Monday.

STALIN asks if it is possible to wait longer.

PIECK asks about the possibility of making the trip public. With Sokolovskiy’s permission he has already told member of the SED secretariat about the trip.

STALIN says that it’s all the same to us whether they announce the trip or not. They need to think what’s best for the Party. Glasnost would be possibly somewhat harmful to us. They will say that they went to Moscow, received Moscow’s orders, and the socialists have nothing like this, they operate through instructions. He, Stalin, doesn’t know whether they need to shout about this. If someone from the German Economic Commission were in Moscow involving representatives other parties this would be another matter, but this matter could be spoiled insofar as they will say that socialists don’t have their own chief. Will they not say so? Discuss this and decide it for yourselves.

PIECK agrees with Stalin and says that possibly there will come a time when a delegation of the People’s Council might be able to travel to Moscow.

STALIN says that then it will be possible to talk about a trip, but right now this is an internal Party matter.

PIECK says that they will give a report about the trip to members of the Party secretariat.

STALIN agrees with this. They sent you, they should also hear you out. You should be answerable to them.

Stalin then asks whether they can remain in Moscow until Wednesday when a reply might be given about questions of interest to them.

PIECK said that they could remain. In view of the Easter holidays their absence in Berlin will not be noticed.

At the conclusion STALIN was interested in how they were accommodated in Moscow and whether their food was good.

PIECK and GROTEWOHL express thanks and bade Stalin farewell.

The conversation lasted two and a half hours, from 1900 to 2130.

Recorded by:

V. Semenov

G. Korotkevich

 

DOCUMENT SUMMARY

 

SED MEETING WITH STALIN – ORIGINAL DOCUMENT

Meeting Friday, 1.31.1947, in Moscow, 9-12 in the Evening

Stalin, Marshal, Suslov, Semenov, Volkov —

Pieck, Grotewohl, Ulbricht, Fechner, Oelsner

Greeting: We greet you most cordially and are happy to see you in such good health. We wish that it will remain that way for several decades.

We thank for the help the Soviet government gives the German people—at the same time a great support for the work of our party—especially in the Soviet occupation zone.

We also thank for the invitation, which gives us the opportunity to state the problems that face us and to hear your advice on them.

We have provided you with some materials worked out in joined meetings and about which there is agreement on our side.

Comrade Gr[otewohl] will make the report.

Report O. Gr[otewohll with the help of 3 resolutions

Interruptions

1) Question — how government reality —

whether not state governments [Landesregierungen] — our argument against that is

weak — need stronger argument —

2) How strong still are the Nazist forces — in the West — can

they be split — separate honest patriotic elements —

perhaps combine in one party, belonging to the block.

3) Whether at plebiscite on G [ermany’s] unity not even

larger majority than 30 mil[lion] out of 50 mil[lion] .

4) Contradictions in the SPD — the masses like that? — because voted

for SPD.

5) Whether left elements in the SPD — with them unified front committees

— committees against reaction in the West

6) Whether Schumacher in favor of municipalization or nationalization —

nationalization is correct — socialization [Vergesellschaftung] — socialization

[Sozialisierung] — mess.

7) Eastern border is another question — here decision of the allies

Yalta — Berlin

other borders no decision —

change nothing there —

raise Eastern border means raising other borders too —

means war

8) .PD in the West burdened with the old program of the KPD

fear of dictatorship — revolution

therefore new program of the SED for the nearest [nächstliegende] period

9) not necessary for the SED to hunt for members — important

is their influence

10) Admission of the SPD in Sov. occupation zone

whether SED is afraid of the SPD

one should defeat them politically

11) All German meeting of the parties — yes —

when it produces something

1 2) Organ of the zone only when no realization central administration

Explanations at the end —

Position of the SED for unity G is correct —

Engl., Am., Fr. are for federalism, because this means weakening of G .

Weak G should have no influence on the world market, no foreign trade, therefore

also no central government, no central administration.

Concept SU runs counter —

G a[nd] Japan should [have] access to the world market, because this way prices lower a[nd]

goods better —

is gain for humanity.

Undivided mastery of America means high prices, poor products.

Hum.[an] progress requires that G. again rise a[nd] [has] access to the world market. 70

mil[lion] Germans cannot be stricken from world history.

Americans live under the illusion, that alone [can] manage world market.

70 mil[lion] Germans cannot permanently live at the pauper stage, as beggars.

Raw materials are needed, as import — but also needed for selling (export). Germans can

provide good and cheap products.

Subjugation a[nd] choking feeds thoughts of revenge. that means new war.

We are comrades, aren’t we, it hurts us, that Germ. work[ers] suffer, the Germ. proletariat

should live better again.

Americans speak of econ. unification, but are against unif[orm] government — without pol.

unity means, however, econ. unification — unification of the occupiers.

The quicker unity G a[nd] Germ. government, the more we alleviate the rise

for this reason against federalism — it is tied to higher burdens.

Germ. government will come about with difficulty in the case of Americ. resistance —

therefore German central administration as transitory situation.

The others would like to divide G into 4 parts — because only through agreement — because

not voted upon — something comes about — [a] central administration can only be created

this way too — will be somewhat easier.

But correct — as M. [has] said in Paris — that central government controlled by the allies

must sign peace treaty — not by state governments.

M: Peace treaty a[nd] creation of the government will drag on —

We work from the Potsdam decisions. But question of the central administration [to

be] put more broadly. St[alin] demanded unif1ied] central administration — not

materialized, therefore only 5 administrations, but these have not been created. For all

areas there must be created administration, with the exception of military a[ nd] state

security.

Unif1 orm] central administration for all of G until the creation of the government,

immediately platform as stage for government.

Stalin: Engl. and Americ. are afraid of the rise of G — fear competition on the intemat.

markets — Americ. wants world market under its control — wants monopoly

prices — When America reaches goal — this way prevent unemployment in America.

Everything that accelerates rise, foreign trade G. America

rejects.

SU wants opposite — when reparations hinder rise,

they can be postponed.

Prisoners of war should be evaluated

improve pol . schooling — CC apparatus is overburdened.

DOCUMENT SUMMARY

Stalin meets with a German delegation to discuss economic conditions in Germany as well as to discuss the political situation in Soviet occupied territory.

 

 

 

MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN ERICH HONECKER AND KIM IL SUNG

North Korea cables reveal East Germany′s deep-rooted suspicion of Kim  regime | In Depth | DW | 08.02.2018

May 31, 1984
Memorandum of Conversation between Erich Honecker and Kim Il Sung

E. Honecker used the meeting to address some issues that could not be addressed in greater detail during the official talks on 30 May 1984 due to time constraints.

He stated that the GDR is currently preoccupied with its 35th anniversary. The Party, which has 2.2 million members, is making thorough preparations for the 35th anniversary. The centerpiece is the ideological work, which has led to intense talks with practically every citizen of the GDR.

He said that, as Kim Il Sung could see for himself, the Party is bound to the masses, and there is a good trusting relationship between the Party and the masses. The alliance policy is very important, that is, cooperation with allied Parties, the role of organizations of the masses such as the Confederation of Free German Trade Unions, with 9 million members, the Free German Youth, with 2.3 million members, and the whole range of other organizations of the masses.

He said that the election results of 6 May 1984 could be considered the best in the history of the GDR, both in terms of the election itself and in terms of voter turnout, and attests to the successful policies of the Party and government in carrying out the resolutions of the X Party Congress.

He stated that the Socialist competition in honor of the 35th Anniversary of the GDR is very important. The workers have established as their goal for this to increase productivity by one percent above what is planned. Given the results thus far it can be expected that they will surpass this goal in the competition. Thus net industrial production in the first 5 months of 1984 increased by 7.9 percent. Productivity in the field of industrial ministries increased by 7 percent during the same period. This demonstrates the excellent initiative of the citizens of [line cut off].

He stated that the fact that 6 million citizens received new apartments between 1971 and 1983 alone was very positive for consolidating trust between the Party and the masses. Now the goal is to improve the residential conditions of an additional 4.3 million citizens between 1984 and 1990. Then the issue of apartments in the GDR as a social problem would be resolved in 1990. In addition, there are a number of other measures in the realm of social policy, e.g., the recent resolutions on improving material conditions for families with more than 3 children and the third increase in minimum pensions since 1971.

E. Honecker detailed the activities of organizations of the masses such as the Confederation of Free German Trade Unions, the Free German Youth, the Association of Gardeners and Animal Breeders, the reinvigorated Association for Mutual Farmers Assistance, the scientific institutes of the GDR, the academies and schools of higher education, the development of the general polytechnical school, the activities of artists unions, and much more.

All of this, he said, is going on in our country under conditions that are open to the world, as he had already expressed in 1977, that is, under the immediate observation of the Western adversary’s electronic media. Naturally there are a few people who listen to these broadcasters and their daily lies, but it should not be overlooked that the vast majority of citizens of the GDR, one could even say, the people, stand fast and unalterably with the Party and government, with their republic.

E. Honecker then asked Kim Il Sung his assessment of the situation in China and of the current leadership of the Communist Party of China based on his own experience. For the USSR and also for the GDR and other socialist countries that do not have Party relations with China, China is a country about whose future course there are still many unresolved questions, for instance, as a result of the Reagan visit.

Kim Il Sung responded as follows. When Hu Yaobang visited our country in May, I also told him about my upcoming trip to the Soviet Union and the other Socialist countries. He welcomed it. I had not known Hu Yaobang before this. On the other hand, I have been friends with Deng Xiaoping for a long time. As you know, he was exiled three times during the Cultural Revolution. Deng Xiaoping paid me an unofficial visit for my 70th birthday in April 1982 to introduce Hu Yaobang to me as the new Secretary General of the Communist Party of China. He made a good impression on me from the beginning.

Hu Yaobang told me that he wants to improve governmental relations with the Soviet Union. He asked me to convey this to the leadership of the Soviet Union. Hu Yaobang assured me many times during our lengthy discussion that China is truly interested in improving relations with the Soviet Union. He confirmed this to me again this year. The leadership of the Communist Party of China is of one mind on this issue. He asked me to convey my thoughts on this to our Soviet comrades.

During his visit to the DPRK, he received news that Comrade Arkhipov’s planned visit to the People’s Republic of China would be pushed back. Comrade Hu Yaobang told me that he had very much been looking forward to this visit. Our Chinese comrades also think highly of Comrade Arkhipov. He used to be an economic advisor in China. Comrade Hu Yaobang said that he very much regretted that Comrade Arkhipov’s trip would be pushed back.

I told Comrade Chernenko about this during my meetings with him. I told our Soviet comrades my thoughts both in a personal meeting with Comrade Chernenko and in official negotiations — that the Chinese really want to improve relations with the Soviet Union. The Chinese do not want war. Overcoming the consequences of the Cultural Revolution in the economy and in the standard of living of the population requires a lot of time and effort. All resources must be devoted to this. The Chinese are not developing relations with the US and Japan with the goal of working against another country.

Given the complex world situation, I hope that the Soviet Union and China work things out. I believe that the development of relations with the US is not targeted against the Soviet Union. Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai already told me that when they established relations with the US. They told us every time they met with Japan and the US. The only objective of these relations is to obtain developed technology and credit from Japan and the US. Deng Xiaoping is said to have stated in the US that the arms build-up in the US is good for peace. I don’t know if that’s so. This is the first time I have heard of Deng Xiaoping expressing a sentiment like that.

It is a fact that the Chinese have improved governmental relations with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. The number of delegations exchanged has grown, as well. All of this can help to reduce the mistrust between the Soviet Union and China. Naturally, I was not able to tell Comrade Chernenko that I think it is a mistake to push back Comrade Arkhipov’s visit to China. I just told him that the Chinese regret it. The Presidium of the Central Committee of the Com-munist Party of China has 5 members. Two of them—Wu Xueqian and Li Xiannian— used to be friends with Comrade Arkhipov. Today they are both powerful. Comrade Arkhipov could build trust in meetings with these two men.

Hu Yaobang told me the following: We sent the Deputy Prime Minister to Comrade Andropov’s funeral. During the welcoming meeting, his escort told him that he could meet with anyone he wanted. As is customary with East Asians, he said that he would accommodate himself to whatever his host had arranged. Our Soviet comrades did not understand this correctly. There were meetings with just anyone. Only the Foreign Minister attended Brezhnev’s burial. They were sending a message to the Soviet Union by sending the deputy prime minister. But this was not understood.

Kim Il Sung said that he believed that all socialist nations should work toward creating trust between the Soviet Union and China. No new mistrust must be permitted to arise. I have told our Soviet comrades that I believe that the goal of our Chinese comrades is to put Socialism in China in order. They don’t want a conflict. I think it is important that China wants to open the gate to socialist nations in the interest of socialist modernization. We should not oppose that. Why should we leave the important Chinese market to the capitalists?

The old generation of leadership in China is dying out. We should show the new generation an opening. If we leave China to the capitalists, there is the risk that China will become a quasi-colony again. We should not close the door in China’s face.

Because of our position—the length of our border with China, confrontation with the US and Japan—what we are most afraid of is that China will not stick with socialism. There are 1 billion people in China. We have to make sure that they follow the socialist path rather than some other path. We have to focus on drawing them toward us. In the past there were major anti-Soviet campaigns in China. This is not the case anymore. During the Cultural Revolution there were major propaganda actions against us on the Yalu. There were provocations in North Korea at the time of the Chinese/Soviet conflicts on the Ussuri in 1969. While I was recuperating in the country, I received a call from our Minister of State Security that Chinese troops were crossing the Tumen [River] onto our territory. I gave the order not to shoot, but to let them come ahead so that we could take them on our territory, if necessary. We sent a group of soldiers there. Then the Chinese withdrew. The Chinese have castigated the Soviet Union and even us as revisionists. It lasted about 5 years in our case, and we had to keep our peace because of our situation. We had to be patient.

China has new leadership now. They don’t want any conflict with the Soviet Union. They want peaceful co-existence with the US, Japan, India, and even the Soviet Union. There are still no Party relations between the Soviet Union and China. We should all try to use our governmental relations to create an atmosphere that promotes the restoration of Party relations, even between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of China. I ask that you, Comrade Honecker, recommend to our Soviet comrades that they send Comrade Arkhipov to China and furthermore that they begin exchanging delegations. I am convinced that China would never put herself on the side of the US against the Soviet Union. All socialist countries should develop economic ties to China, and should even invest in China. The Chinese wanted to speak to Comrade Arkhipov about opportunities to cooperate in modernizing the numerous plants built by the Soviet Union. I told Hu Yaobang that I would ask the Soviet Union about building a nuclear power plant. Hu Yaobang welcomed this, because it would be better than purchasing one from a capitalist country.

Regarding the incidents on the Chinese/Vietnamese border that you mentioned, which you do not approve of, which you regret, I have only the Chinese press accounts to go by. I know nothing of what actually happened. I consider it very regrettable, because these incidents help neither the Vietnamese nor the Chinese. They do damage to our common tasks, above all bringing the Chinese closer to us. All socialist countries should urge the two great powers to hold out their hands to one another.

Hu Yaobang has gathered a lot of new people around him. Hu Qili, who in the past was with the World Federation of Democratic Youth—he knows many people from the past, including you, Comrade Honecker. The current Foreign Minister was also involved in the youth organization in the past. There are many other people around Hu Yaobang who used to work in the youth organization. Hu Yaobang himself is still very healthy; he is smart, his theoretical knowledge is good, and he has also made a thorough study of Marxism. Deng Xiaoping works more from behind the scene, but he also believes that they have to develop relations with the Soviet Union. He is the only one of the old functionaries who is still there. I am his friend. In the past the Chinese castigated the Soviet Union as social imperialists. They don’t do that any more.

I met Comrade Chernenko for the first time [line cut off]

… I knew him well. He has been to Korea three times. He sent me a personal letter immediately after he was elected. I promised him that I would come to the Soviet Union quickly so that I could travel to the GDR immediately afterwards. But that had to be postponed due to Comrade Andropov’s illness. Since I have just gotten to known Comrade Chernenko, I did not know how far I could go with him during our talks. I ask you, Comrade Honecker, to discuss all of these issues with him when you meet. How good it would be for all of us if the Soviet Union and China would reconcile. Japanese journalists have frequently asked my opinion on Sino-Soviet relations. I always said that they are both socialist countries and they therefore belong together. Both the Soviet Union and China are our comrades-in-arms.

To E. Honecker’s inquiry about the nature of the group of Koreans living in Japan, Kim Il Sung stated that this was a group formed by the DPRK. We support relations between this group and socialist countries, including the GDR.

Hu Yaobang, Kim Il Sung continued, had me briefed in great detail on his trip to Japan. I support normalization of relations between China and Japan. There are those in Japan who aspire to reviving militarism and the alliance with the US. But Japan in general can have no interest in re-militarization for economic reasons. All of Japan’s mass organizations oppose militarization. Much depends on which people are in power. I asked Hu Yaobang about his talks with Nakasone. He told me that Nakasone said that Japan will not become cannon fodder for the Americans. It can’t dissociate itself from the US, but does not want to become a lackey of the US. We should all think about that. For the future it could be important whether Nakasone remains prime minister or whether Abe becomes prime minister. In China the Chinese have been courting Abe because they think he would be the better choice. We have to work with the Japanese in a way that ensures that militarism does not recur. I sometimes make harsh statements against Japanese militarism, but we have to work with them anyway. Above all we oppose the US/Japan/South Korea trilateral military alliance. The Japanese have promised the Chinese $2 billion in credit. This is good for the Chinese economy.

I would like to address the socialist market, but today we have no more time.