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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 24, 1953

CIA INTELLIGENCE MEMORANDUM, 'INDICATIONS OF [SOVIET] INTENTIONS IN EUROPE'

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    This CIA report states that the recent uprising revealed the Eastern German Communist regime’s dependence on Soviet military force to maintain power and enforce order. Based on activity of Soviet forces, indications of future Soviet intentions in Germany and in Europe are also discussed.
    "CIA Intelligence Memorandum, 'Indications of [Soviet] Intentions in Europe'," June 24, 1953, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central Intelligence Agency (FOIA Release). On file at the National Security Archive, “Soviet Flashpoints” Collection. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112611
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[…]

2. Indications of Intentions in Europe.

a. East Germany. Demonstrations and riots occurred in East Berlin and other major cities of the Soviet Zone of Germany on 16 and 17 June. Between 50,000 and 100,000 persons apparently were involved in the Berlin disturbances, but there is no reliable information of the number of persons participating elsewhere. Nor is there reliable evidence as to the total casualties suffered and the damage inflicted. Initial countermeasures used by the East German Government in East Berlin were unsuccessful in preventing the riots and Soviet troops had to be employed. These disorders in East Germany reached a proportion which demonstrated the Communist regime's dependence on Soviet military force to maintain it in power and to enforce order. The inability of the Government to cope with the situation must also have shattered whatever confidence the Kremlin may still have had in East German Communist leadership. Despite the avowed intent of maintaining the recently announced policy to curb Sovietization in East Germany (see Watch Committee Report No. 150), Moscow is now faced with the possible question whether any real relaxation of Communist representation is possible without an outbreak of further demonstrations which would again necessitate the employment of Soviet forces.

b. Soviet Army Activity, Germany. Soviet troops, after suppressing the riots of 17 June, are now engaged in maintaining order and enforcing martial law in East Berlin and other major cities of the Soviet Zone of Germany. Advance elements, the equivalent of a regimental combat team, of the first Mechanized Division arrived in East Berlin by noon of 17 June from Dallgow/Doeberitz (about 16 miles west of Berlin). Elements of the 14th Guards Mechanized Division arrived in East Berlin on 17 and 18 June from Jueterbog (about 35 miles south of Berlin). [1 Line Excised] A total of 450 tanks and self-propelled guns and approximately 10,000 Soviet troops from these two divisions are estimated to have moved to East Berlin by noon of 18 June. On 19 June, a total of 25,000 Soviet troops was estimated to be in East Berlin, including troops of the local garrison. The bulk of the first Mechanized Division and elements of the 14th Guards Mechanized Division apparently are still in the Soviet sector of Berlin, and possibly have been joined by elements of the 12th Guards Tank Division from Neuruppin (about 35 miles northwest of Berlin).

[1/2 Line Excised] Soviet troops are patrolling other large cities in East Germany, and observations of recent troop movements indicate that some units left field training areas and returned to home stations following the outbreaks of 17 June.
Prior to 17 June, Soviet training activities in East Germany were following a normal pattern. The recent disturbance, however, interrupted the training of some units and may delay, at least temporarily, the progress of the summer training program. With some Soviet troops now deployed to enforce martial law in the Soviet Zone of Germany, the over-all offensive capability of the Group of Soviet Occupation Forces, Germany, also is temporarily impaired. There are no indications that the movement of Soviet troops to suppress the riots is intended as a cover for offensive action against the West.

c. Soviet Position on Changes in the Berlin Air Corridors. The basic Soviet position, after six quadripartite meetings concerning flight safety in the Berlin air corridors, remains unaltered. The primary objective of the Soviets still appears to be to eliminate air traffic which might observe military activities within or near the present Frankfurt-Berlin corridor (see Watch Committee Report No. 141). The Soviets also are attempting to establish that the initial occupation agreements give them the right to dictate terms of western access to Berlin.

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