20. National Intelligence Estimate1

NIE 11-7-61



The Problem

To estimate probable Soviet intentions with respect to Berlin and Germany over the next six months or so.


We believe that in the relatively near future the USSR will present a formal demand for a renewal of negotiations on the question of a peace treaty for “the two Germanies” and a new status for Berlin. Almost certainly, Khrushchev still prefers to negotiate on this matter rather than to provoke a crisis by unilateral action, chiefly because he desires to avoid the risks of a showdown in this dangerous area of East-West confrontation. He apparently still hopes that, if he keeps in reserve the threat of a unilateral move, Western fears of a showdown will induce the Allies to make concessions at the bargaining table. (Paras. 5, 9, 11)
In raising this issue once again the USSR’s chief concern will be to strengthen the East German regime by eroding and eventually eliminating the Western position in Berlin, and by bringing the West to recognize the permanence and legitimacy of that regime. The Soviets also hope that success in this will undermine West Germany’s confidence in its present policy of participation in NATO’s military effort, since it remains a primary Soviet purpose to check the buildup of significant military power in the Federal Republic. (Paras. 6-8)
In any negotiations which take place in the next few months, the Soviets would almost certainly not hold fast to their maximum demand for a peace treaty with “the two Germanies” and the immediate conversion of West Berlin into a “demilitarized free city.” Instead they will concentrate on getting an “interim agreement,” of the kind outlined at Geneva in 1959, which would constitute a first step toward eliminating Allied occupation rights in West Berlin. The USSR might in the course of negotiations reduce some of its previous demands concerning such an interim settlement if it could obtain an agreement, which, at least by implication[Page 57], put a time limit on these occupation rights. This outcome would be intended to lay the groundwork for later advances and would be, in the Soviet view, a major gain. (Paras. 12-15)
If higher level negotiations do not take place, or if they break down, the USSR might agree to refer the problem to lower level talks. More likely, however, it would move to summon a Bloc-sponsored peace conference and would eventually sign its long-threatened separate peace treaty with the GDR. Subsequently, the Soviets could transfer to the GDR control over Allied access and, sooner or later, permit that regime gradually to apply a policy of harassments. As another way of exerting pressure, they might choose to exploit the vulnerabilities of German civilian access, a course which would not directly threaten the Allied position but could seriously undermine the integrity of West Berlin. Under this or any other policy, however, the USSR is likely to continue to offer negotiations, always hopeful that the Allies can be induced to accede peacefully to the eventual loss of the Western position in Berlin. (Paras. 19-21)

[Here follow four pages of the “Discussion” section.]

  1. Source: Department of State, INR-NIE Files. Secret. Also published in Declassified Documents, 1978, 5B.