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April 1, 1952

Conversations between Joseph V. Stalin and SED leadership

Attended by: Comrades Molotov, Malenkov, Bulganin, [Mikoyan] and Semyonov (ACC)

Interpreter: member of the Politburo of the SED [Oelssner]

Comrade Pieck says that they have a number of questions, which they would like to discuss with Comrade Stalin so that they get some clarity. The first group of questions has to do with the situation in Germany that developed in connection with the proposals of the Soviet Government about the basic principles of peace treaty with Germany on the one hand, and in connection with the military policy of Western powers on the other. What tasks derive from this situation for the SED and for the government of the GDR? The position of the SED was formulated in the draft theses for the Second Conference of the SED. Briefly summarizing that position, Pieck says that the Soviet government's proposals regarding a peace treaty with Germany inspired wide movement of the masses in Germany, and created a difficult situation for the Adenauer government, which became clear from the Western powers' response to the note of the Soviet Government. That raises a number of issues, on which we would like to know Comrade Stalin's opinion.

First. What are the prospects for concluding a peace treaty with Germany; will the conference of four powers be convened, and what results can we expect from the conference?

Second. On holding all-German free elections without the U.N. interference. Should we start a mass movement for such elections, trying to overthrow the Adenauer government?

Third. How should the party continue its struggle in West Germany in the future?
The main task at the present time is to achieve unity of the working class. The CC SED has recently sent a letter to the SPD CC with proposals on the issues of German unity and the peace treaty. However, it is most likely that the right-wing leadership of the Social Democrats will reject this proposal as well. Our next task is to pool all bourgeois nationalist forces together. In the nearest future, we will hold the “Conference of the Thousand” with participation of various patriotic groups.

Comrade Stalin asks--in the West?

Comrade Pieck confirms it.
The conference will elect a permanent presidium for organization of coordinated actions in the struggle for unity and the peace treaty. This will help us to expand the movement. The decisive issue will be the strengthening of the Communist Party of [West] Germany [KPD]. In the last year, it achieved good results in its struggle against remilitarization and for the German unity. In this connection, there is a danger that the Adenauer government might ban the Communist Party. However, those achievements do not correspond to the aggravation of the situation in West Germany. The elections held in the Southwestern state [of West Germany] have shown that the party had not yet achieved trust of the wide masses. The KPD even lost votes in percentage calculation in those elections. A partial reason for this is that the constituents did not take an active part in the elections. The SED CC tried to help the KPD by sending instructors and authorized officials to West Germany from the GDR. The problem is that the KPD does not have enough cadres, and that the cadres that it does have are not well-educated and well-prepared in order to organize a nation-wide campaign. Recently in the SED CC, we created a commission for developing a program for the KPD. We see it as very important because the KPD still does not have any party program and party members often exhibit indecisiveness and confusion on major issues of the national liberation struggle and working-class movement in West Germany. After the completion of the draft of the party program, we would like to ask the CPSU CC to help us with its final version.

The second group of questions--continued Comrade Pieck--follows from the tasks that arose as a result of the completion of the “General Treaty,” which will probably be signed by Western powers and the Bonn government in May. In our opinion, we should use every opportunity to prevent the signing of the “General Treaty” (strikes, “appeal for peace,” collecting signatures of the population in West and East Germany, drafting of a national program on behalf of the Presidium of the “Conference of the Thousand”). The government of the GDR will make a statement to the effect that it does not recognize the General Treaty. In addition, we intend to undertake a number of measures, which would make the economic situation of West Germany more difficult (introducing higher tariffs on the highways between West Berlin and West Germany, creating problems on the roads connecting West Berlin and the GDR, introducing a system of passes for visits of residents of West Berlin to the GDR).

The third group of questions--continued Comrade Pieck--refers to what kind of military defense should the German Democratic Republic create in the light of the threat from the West? Currently we have the People's Police in the GDR, but this is not defense [force]. The police are poorly armed, have bad revolvers that lack bullets.

Comrade Stalin asks, what kind of police is that?

Comrade Ulbricht notes that nowhere in the world they have such police, and that it cannot even defend itself against criminal elements.

Comrade Stalin asks, why? You yourselves are to blame for this situation.


Ulbricht says that the GDR could not produce weapons for the People's Police because it was prohibited by the quadripartite agreements.

Comrade Stalin notes that you did not understand your rights well. You have a right to maintain your own well-trained and well-armed police.

Comrade Molotov notes, and to produce weapons needed for your police.

Comrade Stalin emphasizes that the GDR can produce their own machine guns, rifles, revolvers and bullets for the People's Police. You have the full right to do it.

Comrade Pieck says that that is very good. Pieck asks whether they should take any steps to create a German army in the German Democratic Republic.

Comrade Stalin says--not just steps; you need to create an army. What do you mean by steps?

Comrade Pieck says that then they would have to produce ammunition.

Comrade Stalin notes that the Western powers in West Germany violate all agreements, and do whatever they please.

Comrade Pieck says that in order to create an army, they should organize appropriate propaganda in the GDR, and show the difference between the army, which is being created in West Germany, and the National Army of East Germany.

Comrade Stalin says that they should create an army without making much noise, without propaganda. When the army is already organized, then you can shout about it.

Comrade Pieck says that we were engaged in propaganda for demilitarization for Germany--against any army whatsoever. But as a result of that, we got an expansion of pacifist moods, which we now have to take into account.

Comrade Stalin responds that it was needed in the past, but not any more.

Comrade Pieck says that this issue now comes up during discussions of the military aspects of the Soviet draft of the foundations for the peace treaty. We have a misunderstanding as a result.

Comrade Stalin asks--what kind of misunderstanding?

Comrade Ulbricht speaks about the spreading of pacifist moods in the GDR.

Comrade Stalin asks, so if they attack you, are you going to defend yourself? This is called not resisting evil with violence. This is what Tolstoy preached. This is not pacifism--it is even worse.

Comrade Pieck says that one of the important tasks for the GDR is to strengthen the democratic laws. Along with the successes in [socialist] construction in the GDR, we are experiencing a strengthening of the enemy's activities (the kulaks, the church). We should have more public statements about the need to increase our vigilance and the defense of the democratic order. We need to hold several public trials, so that people will know why there were arrests, and why we brought forth the sentences. Up to this point, we were told that it was inexpedient. But it has to be done. In addition, it would be expedient to reconsider the sentences of the Soviet military tribunals on petty crimes. Currently, the GDR prisons are overcrowded. Maybe we should reconsider the sentences in petty cases.

Comrade Stalin asks--to free the criminals?

Comrade Molotov specifies--only in the least serious crimes.

Comrade Pieck confirms this. Then Pieck speaks about the need to improve the standard of living of skilled workers in the GDR by creating wage rates and increasing salaries for more skilled workers. We also discussed the issue of what we could do for workers of private enterprises.

Comrade Stalin asks--is their situation worse?

Comrade Oelssner says, much worse.

Comrade Pieck says that for workers of private enterprises, they plan to establish prizes--for completing state orders--and also to establish a social and cultural fund in the amount of 3% of the salaries of private enterprise workers.

Comrade Stalin asks—have you thought about getting part or even half of the enterprises that belong to the Soviet Union in Germany?

Comrade Ulbricht responds negatively.

Comrade Stalin specifies--you did not think about it?

Comrade Pieck says that it would be desirable.

Comrade Stalin notes, we think that we would sell half of the Soviet enterprises to the GDR government, and then a year or more later we will also sell the second half. We say half calculating on the basis of profit they receive. If all Soviet enterprises produced, for example, 800 million rubles of profit a year, then we would sell you the enterprises, which together produce 400 million rubles profit a year.

Comrade Pieck says that that would be very good.

Comrade Stalin says that we would need to talk about it in detail. We propose that you pay for part of it in [East German] marks, and the other part can be paid in goods. Then you will have many state employees.

Comrade Pieck says that this would be very good. Then Pieck says that many members of the intelligentsia flee from the GDR to the West.

Comrade Stalin notes, you should create your own intelligentsia.

Comrade Oelssner notes that it is already being done in the GDR.

Comrade Pieck says that we would like to conclude individual agreements with engineers and technicians. We made this decision long ago, but we have not implemented it. In the old [pre-war] Germany, the ratio of an average worker's salary to an engineer's salary was 1:2.5, and now in the GDR it is 1:1.7. The system of encouragement for inventors is very weak; the situation with issuing patents and with technical literature is unsatisfactory.

Comrade Stalin specifies, with publication? You publish too little?

Comrade Oelsner confirms this, and adds that the engineering and technological intelligentsia receive very little technological literature from abroad.

Comrade Pieck speaks about the need to improve the work of the state apparatus of the GDR, which suffers from very low level of responsibility and initiative. They should introduce strict controls over implementation, and create an appropriate control apparatus in the GDR Council of Ministers. Grotewohl will discuss this issue. We believe--continues Pieck--that questions of foreign policy should be under the direct control of the SED CC Politburo. Up to this point, the minister of foreign affairs was predominantly in charge of those issues, but no good has come out of it so far.
Comrade Stalin notes that secrets will not be kept if they do not introduce the necessary measures.
Comrade Pieck speaks about the GDR's need for economic assistance from the Soviet Union. The beginning of 1952 produced poor results compared with 1951. The prospects [for the GDR economy] are not very good. We are asking for your assistance on five points, about which Grotewohl will report to you.

These are general questions.

Turning to the situation in the party, Comrade Pieck says that the Eighth Plenum of the SED CC, which mainly discussed the issues of struggle against the bureaucracy, and strengthening the work of primary party organizations and organs of government, was held recently.

Comrade Stalin asks, do you have strict registration of party members? How many members does your party have?

Comrade Pieck responds that the party has [illegible] members.

Comrade Stalin asks, fewer than you had last year?

Comrade Ulbricht says considerably fewer, because we carried out a vetting of party members and candidate members. While the vetting was going on, the admissions were temporarily halted.

Comrade Pieck says that the party has [illegible] thousand party members, and 102 thousand candidate members. [Illegible] % of party members and candidate members are women. Workers at the bench--42.4%, employees of the service sphere--27.2%, peasants--5%, intelligentsia--4.3%, unemployed--[illegible], and others.

Comrade Stalin asks whether they have unemployment.

Comrade Pieck responds negatively.

Comrade Ulbricht says that they do have unemployment. It emerged in connection with deficit of raw materials. For example, in the textile region of Cottbus, they would have to fire approximately 1000 workers.

Comrade Stalin asks how the peasants feel about the regime.

Comrade Pieck says that small- and mid-sized farm peasants feel positively about the regime, and fulfill their obligations to the state. The situation with the kulaks is very different; this year they have been sabotaging agricultural deliveries and even committing terrorist acts against village activists. Therefore, the kulaks are mounting resistance.

Comrade Stalin says that that is natural.

Comrade Pieck speaks about great problems in the SED's work in the village. The machine-rental stations (MRS) represent the basis of our policy in the village.

Comrade Stalin asks, do you have any collective farms?

Having received a negative response, Comrade Stalin asks, for what do you have the MRS in the GDR then?


Comrade Stalin asks [illegible], Do peasants go to the MRS for assistance? Do they help private peasants?

Comrade Ulbricht confirms it and says that they need to create even more machine-rental stations.

Comrade Stalin asks how they pay for work—in money, or in products?

Comrade Pieck says that they pay money, and [he] emphasizes the importance of the MRS for political education of the village.

Comrade Stalin asks whether the GDR has many MRS?

Comrade Ulbricht gives the number of MRS as 540, and notes that they need to expand the MRS network to 600 stations.

Comrade Pieck speaks about the difficult situation that developed in Berlin as a result of the split of the city into two parts. The Americans are trying to carry out their policy of undermining the GDR through West Berlin. The reaction concentrates in West Berlin. They publish many reactionary newspapers, support 3 powerful radio stations broadcasting to the GDR, and carry out a campaign of slander against the democratic order. [West] Berlin Social Democrats, trying to expand their influence to all Berlin, advocate holding separate elections for Berlin,. As far as the number of party members is concerned, the SED has 39,700 members, and the SPD has 34,000 members in Berlin, but the Social Democrats control the entire administrative apparatus of West Berlin.

Comrade Stalin asks how many members the SPD has in East Berlin.

Comrade Ulbricht responds that they have very few.

Comrade Pieck says that after 1945, the SPD lost many members in Berlin, and that the masses were dissatisfied with its policies. In conclusion, Comrade Pieck expresses his gratitude to Comrade Stalin for his help to the German people, in particular for the draft of the basic principles of the peace treaty, and for sending Soviet specialists to assist in the GDR. Comrade Pieck says that he would also like to thank the Soviet Control Commission in Germany, and Comrades [General Vasilii] Chuikov and [Vladimir S.] Semyonov for their day-to-day assistance to the leadership of the SED CC.

Then Comrade Grotewohl takes the floor. He states that the state apparatus of the GDR lags behind the pace and the extent of the development of culture and the GDR economy. Their main mistake is that they adopted the Weimar model of the state apparatus without any serious changes. The structural changes in the economy of the GDR (land reform and the planned economy) created completely new tasks for the government. The growth of people's industry, strengthening of the planned economy, development of labor competition, introduction of technological norms, campaign for increasing the productivity of labor and the quality of production, introduction of collective agreements on enterprises, introduction of the agreement system and self-sufficiency created new problems in the economy, which led to a considerable development of the workers' consciousness. Of course, we make mistakes in our economic apparatus as well, but the new methods put dwn roots there more extensively than in the state apparatus. We made efforts to adjust to the new tasks after the creation of the GDR (the Weimar Republic had 14 ministries, and we created 25), but we were unable to achieve a genuine coordination between ministries and bureaus, and appropriate oversight of their work. The apparatus has been growing horizontally more than vertically. There were also drawbacks in terms of division of responsibilities between the government and the party apparatus, which created parallelism and contradictions in work. There is a lot of formalism and swelling paper reporting in the state apparatus. Our proposals have the purpose of creating a truly reliable control apparatus, and to ensure quality of decisions being prepared. In order to achieve this, we intend to create a special apparatus at the Council of Ministers of the GDR. Member of the Politburo of the SED CC and Deputy Prime Minister [Heinrich] Rau will be relieved of his duties as Chairman of the State Planning Commission. He will be entrusted with all economic issues, including industry, transportation, and agriculture. Minister of Public Education [Paul] Wandel will be appointed deputy prime minister in charge of coordination of issues relating to sciences, public education and arts. We will create a position of state secretary for leadership over local authorities. These three officials will be directly subordinated to the SED CC Politburo, and will be in charge of all preparatory work in the relevant spheres. The work of the government will be closely linked to the party leadership. In addition, an International Relations Department will be created at the SED CC Politburo; it will direct the work of the Foreign Ministry.

Comrade Stalin asks Grotewohl, how many deputies does he have?

Comrade Grotewohl responds that he has five deputies.

Comrade Stalin asks what do they do?

Comrade Grotewohl says that two of the five deputies are representatives of bourgeois parties, and we are glad that they do not do anything.

Comrade Stalin asks what does Ulbricht do?

Comrade Grotewohl responds that Ulbricht is in charge of many issues in the government having to do with the youth, sports, and so on. In general, he works as a liaison between the government and the party.

Comrade Stalin asks what would happen if the first deputy were only in charge of the industry, and coordinate only industrial issues.

Comrade Grotewohl says that this is precisely what they have in mind for Rau.

Comrade Stalin says that in addition to Ministers, they should have deputy prime ministers, and divide the tasks among them so that each of them was in charge of one branch of industry.

Comrade Grotewohl says that in their reorganization plans, they start with precisely this idea. But the solution of this problem is greatly complicated by the existence of the bloc of parties. When new positions are created, they have to take into account the need to leave something for the bourgeois parties. However, as our tasks move forward, it becomes more and more difficult to give any ministry to the representatives of the bourgeoisie.

Comrade Stalin asks, what do the bourgeois parties want?

Comrade Ulbricht responds that they want to get positions and live a comfortable life.

Comrade Stalin says that experience shows that one cannot lead through ministries. In addition to the ministries you have to have deputies of the prime minister, who would be in charge of a certain group of ministries. From the point of view of management, you cannot do without it.

Comrade Grotewohl says that in the GDR our task is to create such groups, but without giving anything to representatives of the bourgeoisie in the process. Their politicians will only create problems, especially if you take into account that they would have to make decisions on the issues of army, weapons, and so on.

Comrade Stalin asks if the GDR has a ministry of defense, and who controls the police?

Comrade Ulbricht responds that formally the GDR Ministry of the Interior is in charge of the police, but there is also a special state secretary for police issues, who is essentially not subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior.

Comrade Stalin inquires who is your Minister of the Interior?

Comrade Ulbricht responds that [Karl] Steinhoff is a very peaceful person.

Comrade Stalin asks, can't you appoint a fighter to this post? A military man?

Comrade Ulbricht says that they would need to do so.

Comrade Stalin notes that if the chief of the police is weak, the police itself will be weak. Maybe they should not create a defense ministry, but instead create an embryo of it at the Ministry of the Interior.

Comrade Ulbricht says that the part of police represented by troops is only formally subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior, in reality it is directly subordinated to the GDR Ministry of [State] Security and to the Prime Minister.

Comrade Stalin says that in this case it would be better to create such an embryo at the Ministry of State Security.

Comrade Ulbricht expresses his agreement.

Comrade Grotewohl says that the GDR is experiencing a number of economic problems, which they cannot resolve on their own. We are asking for help on the following issues:
a) casting iron—25 thousand tons over the figure of the long-term agreement (justifies the request with statistical data).

Comrade Stalin notes that we can provide that.

Comrade Grotewohl says that they would need to get short-term credit for 2.5 million dollars to purchase a pipe-rolling complex from West Germany because of a serious lack of whole-rolled pipes (19 thousand tons less than needed).

Comrade Stalin says that we can give them credit, and asks what amount of whole-rolled pipes they need.

Comrade Grotewohl responds that they think they would be able to do without pipes for the time being if they get the pipe-rolling complex, which would start producing pipes beginning with the fourth quarter.

Comrade Semyonov responds to comrade Stalin's question [illegible] and that currently negotiations are under way between the GDR, Czechoslovakia and Hungary about the possibility of those countries accepting GDR orders for rolling 19 thousand tons of pipes from half-finished products in storage in the GDR.

Comrade Grotewohl says that when they receive the pipe-rolling complex, in 1952, Germany would still have a deficit of pipes of approximately 14 thousand tons.

Comrade Stalin asks Comrade [Anastas] Mikoyan, can we give them this amount?

Comrade Mikoyan says that it would be difficult.

Comrade Stalin says that we would give as much as possible. We will give you the 2.5 million-dollar credit any time. Tomorrow if you want.

Comrade Malenkov asks where is the rolling complex now, in West Germany?

Comrade Grotewohl responds that the rolling complex was made in West Germany, but it has already left it, and should be transported to the GDR via England and Switzerland.

Comrade Grotewohl asks for a shortening of the deadlines for deliveries of thick sheet iron, which is needed for shipbuilding, in particular, to deliver 32 thousand tons of thick sheet iron from 72 thousand tons purchased from the USSR by the end of April, and 40 thousand tons by the end of the third quarter of this year.

Comrade Mikoyan says that it would be difficult, and that the GDR industry would still need thick sheet iron in the fourth quarter as well. He proposes that 21 thousand tons would be delivered by the end of April, 30 thousand tons in the third quarter, and 21 thousand in the fourth quarter.

Comrade Grotewohl says that we would like to do it differently.

Comrade Stalin notes that it should be worked out during the present trade negotiations.

Comrade Ulbricht says that they talked for weeks in those trade negotiations, but were unable to achieve anything.

Comrade Stalin inquires, with whom did you negotiate?

Comrade Ulbricht says they negotiated with the USSR Ministry of Foreign Trade.

Comrade Stalin says [illegible] we could give, but we cannot say now. If the German trade delegation is in Moscow now, they should raise this issue here.

Comrade Grotewohl says that it is the most difficult position. Serious mistakes were made in distribution of the metal received from the USSR--authorized officials of the GDR signed an agreement with the USIG about transferring 70% of the metal to the Soviet enterprises in Germany. We did not recognize that agreement, and demanded a precise inspection of its use. We know that the Soviet enterprises in the GDR have more raw materials in their warehouses than they need.

Comrade Ulbricht says that on this issue, the cooperation between the Soviet and people's enterprises in the GDR is not fully worked out. The Soviet shipyard Neptune has enough thick sheet iron for the entire year, and the new deliveries of iron are sent to the warehouse. The people's shipyard in Stralsund is working below capacity, even though it also works for reparations.

Comrade Stalin asks, why did you not speak about it before? With whom did you speak?

Comrade Ulbricht says that they talked about it with the leadership of the USIG, and in Karlshorst.

Comrade Semyonov gives reference that this issue was raised before the leadership of the ACC on 19 March for the first time, and that they created a commission to inspect the situation.

Comrade Stalin asks Ulbricht if they could write a letter to Moscow.

Comrade Ulbricht says that they, as usual, tried to resolve this issue locally.

Comrade Stalin points to them that when you are dissatisfied, you should contact the CC CPSU. And this request should be satisfied using the reserves of the Soviet enterprises in Germany. The issue should be resolved here, not in Berlin, and the request should be satisfied.

Comrade Grotewohl asks [for the USSR] to sell 7 thousand tons of lead to the GDR.

Comrade Stalin asks, how much do they give you?

Comrade Grotewohl says that up until now, they gave us nothing at all.

Comrade Mikoyan refers to the fact that the USSR Ministry of Foreign Trade has not yet given the government any information regarding the results of trade negotiations with the delegation of the GDR, and that the question has not been decided yet.

Comrade Stalin asks Grotewohl if 5 thousand tons of lead would be enough.

Comrade Grotewohl asks for 7 thousand tons.

Comrade Stalin says, we will give it to you. The Chinese took a lot. They came before you, and took it.

Comrade Grotewohl asks for deliveries of 10 thousand tons of copper.

Comrade Stalin responds that it would be very difficult, but we will do it.

Comrade Grotewohl says that you cannot arm yourself without copper.

Comrade Stalin says, we will provide it.

Comrade Grotewohl thanks him.

Comrade Stalin notes, we would give you twice as much if we only could. And we will sell the Neptune shipyard to you with all its reserves of metal. Comrade Stalin asks whether there were any reserves of iron ore discovered in the GDR.

Comrade Ulbricht responds that the bulk of metal in the GDR is produced from the local reservoirs of poor ore.

Comrade Stalin asks about blast furnaces in the GDR.

Comrade Ulbricht says that they are building blast furnaces, but very slowly, and that as a result of that, the East Complex is experiencing serious problems in starting its work.

Comrade Stalin says that we always learned to build [our] metallurgical industry from the Germans. How come you do not know how to build blast furnaces?

Comrade Ulbricht cited the lack of specialists. All metallurgy specialists are now sitting in the West.

Comrade Stalin says that it is good—now you can at last create your own technological intelligentsia.

Comrade Ulbricht asks for Soviet technological assistance to the GDR enterprises by sending necessary experts to the GDR, to the plant that repairs tanks and other enterprises, for example.

Comrade Molotov asks, did you make tanks in Germany?

Comrade Ulbricht says that all tank plants were leveled; the demilitarization was carried out so thoroughly that they had nothing left now.

Comrade Stalin says that when the Soviet troops approached Berlin, the Americans asked the Soviet command to allow them to bomb the German territory 10 kilometers to the West from the line of the Soviet troops. At first we did not understand the meaning of that, and told the Americans: --No, you should not do this; there are troops here. But the Americans kept asking for permission to bomb. Then we understood that they wanted to obliterate the German plants. We responded that we could not allow bombing. Nonetheless, they sent in the bombers, and we sent Soviet destroyers to meet them; we shot down several American bombers, and only then they left. Therefore, the destruction of the plants began already during the war. Now we will build plants.

Comrade Stalin says that we would be glad to provide technological assistance, because you make use of it very fast, unlike they do in China, where everything takes more time.

Comrade Ulbricht notes that nonetheless, a lot of stupid things were done in the GDR.

Comrade Stalin says that only those who don't work don't make mistakes.

Comrade Ulbricht asks for a short-term credit on agricultural combines, cement-mixing machines, cranes, coal combines and other machines for the coal industry.

Comrade Stalin agrees and proposes to talk about it in detail.

Comrade Ulbricht asks for scientific assistance to the GDR, by sending Soviet specialists in the fields of philosophy and science, for teaching lecture courses at universities and party schools.

Comrade Stalin promises to provide the necessary assistance.

Comrade Ulbricht returns to the issue, which was initially raised by Comrade Pieck, of holding open trials of the saboteurs--agents of Western intelligence services who committed arson, acts of sabotage, and assassination attempts on party leaders of the GDR.

Comrade Stalin says that they should hold some open trials and increase the fighting spirit within the working class.

Comrade Molotov speaks about the need to introduce a system of passes for visits of West Berlin residents to the territory of East Berlin. How can you tolerate free movement of Western agents in your republic?

Comrade Ulbricht says that the contraband from the GDR to West Berlin proceeds practically in the open, and the police cannot even shoot at the criminals because they do not have any bullets.

Comrade Molotov says that it is simply impossible.

Comrade Stalin says that it cannot go on like this any longer. This cannot be tolerated. Comrade Stalin asks if the GDR has any border defenses.

Comrade Ulbricht responds that their border defenses are very weak, and that they should strengthen and subordinate them to military organs, and introduce appropriate military training.

Comrade Stalin agrees.

Comrade Stalin says that they could speak about West Germany, its future prospects and [illegible] during their second meeting.

Comrade Pieck agrees.

Comrade Ulbricht asks for permission for leaders of the SED to study Stalin's work on the issues of political economy.

Comrade Stalin agrees, but emphasizes that this work was intended for publication. We had a discussion of some economic issues, which raised certain questions, and the “comments” give some answers to those issues. Those are specifically Russian issues.

Comrade Ulbricht asks for a permission to talk with some of leading figures of the CPSU CC about the methods of work of the Central Committee and the state apparatus.

Comrade Stalin says that it can be done. We have nothing to hide from you, but you simply have somewhat different circumstances.

Comrade Ulbricht says that they would be able to decide how to apply the Soviet experience to the GDR conditions.

Comrade Stalin emphasizes that the police that they have in the GDR now is not sufficient any longer. You should have a combat police. You should change their instructions, improve their equipment and training.

Comrade Ulbricht says that he attended some of the police party conferences, and that the policemen themselves were angry about the present conditions.

Comrade Stalin says that this is correct.

Comrade Stalin asks if workers are promoted to leadership positions in the GDR.

Comrade Ulbricht answers affirmatively.

Comrade Stalin inquires about peasant promotions.

Comrade Ulbricht says that in this respect things are much worse.

Comrade Pieck thanks Comrade Stalin for sending a Soviet delegation for Beethoven's anniversary. Performances by the Soviet artists made a lasting impression.

Comrade Stalin laughs and says that all this is good, but it is more interesting to have an army.

Recorded by V. Semyonov [handwritten]

The first discussion between the delegation of the SED leadership and I. V. Stalin in Moscow. Pieck, Grotewohl, and Ulbricht inform Stalin of the situation in East Germany, the situation in the SED, and ask for economic help.

Document Information


Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Dmitriĭ Antonovich Volkogonov papers, 1887-1995, mm97083838. According to Mikhail Narinsky (Moscow), a copy can be found in Arkhiv Prezidenta Rossiisskoi Federatsii, Moscow (AP RF), fond (f.) 45, opis’ (op.) 1, delo (d.) 303, list (l.) 179.


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Memorandum of Conversation


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