After a few months in Karlshorst I had a very good knowledge of the structure and the functions of the Supreme Staff of the Soviet Military Administration. My work in close association with the highest officers of the S. M. A. enabled me to see behind the scenes of the Supreme Staff machinery.
The head of the S. M. A., Marshal Zhukov, was also the supreme commander of the Soviet occupation forces. As such, at Potsdam he had a second staff headquarters the Supreme Staff of those forces.
Marshal Zhukov rightly enjoyed great authority, and his appointment to the post of military governor in the Soviet zone was due to his great services as a brilliant field-commander who had played a decisive role during the war. Moreover, he was highly popular, as is shown by the many stories about him and his relations with his men. Here is one:
On one occasion during the advance the marshal decided to investigate the state of affairs along the roads leading to the front. He put an old military greatcoat over his marshal's uniform, an old earflapped cap on his head, threw a ragged pack across his back and went to a road leading directly to the front line. He posted him-self at the roadside, alone, leaning on a stick, posing as a wounded soldier. Whenever a car occupied by officers drove past he tried to stop it, but his requests for help were ignored, none of the cars stopped. But they found themselves held up at the next control point. They cursed at the unexpected delay, but could not discover who had issued the order. A little later Zhukov himself arrived in his old greatcoat.
"What idiot gave the order to stop us at this control point?" he found the officers storming at the inflexible guard.
"I did," the marshal answered calmly.
"Then who are you?" They turned on him roughly.
"Who am I? I'm a Russian soldier," Zhukov explained with the same threatening calm, and casually undid the froggings of his coat. "Relieve them of their documents and remit the cases to a field court-martial," he ordered his adjutant, who had just arrived.
In his memoirs, General Eisenhower frequently expresses his astonishment at Marshal Zhukov's disconcerting lack of independence; while they were working together Zhukov never dared to make a decision for himself. According to American ideas such a man would be forced to resign on the ground that he was not equal to his responsible tasks. But according to Soviet conceptions Marshal Zhukov was too independent, and this was one of the reasons for his early recall from the post of S. M. A. supreme commander.
As a matter of fact, Marshal Zhukov never took any decision without a preliminary understanding with Moscow. His real fault was that even when he carried out the Kremlin's instructions exactly he had the audacity to express his own opinion. Quite often he tried to get his instructions revised when he considered them premature or inexpedient. In the Kremlin's eyes that were reason enough to suspect him of rebellious tendencies.
His recall to Moscow in March 1946 and appointment as commandeer of a military district in the Russian provinces was a further instance of the Kremlin's dictatorial methods. Zhukov enjoyed too great authority and popularity in the post-war Soviet Union, and that in itself would have been sufficient reason for depriving the war-hero of his important post. The Kremlin was afraid of such a great concentration of power in the hands of a man who was not one of its group.
Marshal Zhukov's successor, General Sokolovsky, who soon after his appointment was raised to the rank of marshal, was not quite so disturbing to the Kremlin's peace of mind. He was a gifted administrator, but had never been more than the executive of others' decisions. The Kremlin considered such a commander more fitted to deal with the changed conditions of the post-war period when, after getting through a critical period, the Politburo again took the reins firmly into its hands.
Side by side with the supreme commander's organization there is the office of the Political Adviser, who is the real representative of Soviet Party policy in Germany; his role far exceeds that of a normal counselor. He is responsible for seeing that the Kremlin's political line is followed, and as unofficial political commissar he simultaneously has oversight of all the supreme commander's decisions. When Molotov arrived in Berlin on his way to the London Conference or for the subsequent Foreign Ministers' Conferences in that city, he always saw the Political Adviser before the supreme commander. While the commander was the representative of the Soviet Government, the Political Adviser was the representative of the Party. Their mutual relations corresponded: the first executed the second's will.
The Political Administration of the S. M. A. Staff has the same name as that of the Political Adviser, but it is an independent organization. The Political Adviser's Administration forms the link between the S. M. A. and Moscow, whereas the S. M. A. Political Administration is the link with below; in other words, it controls political activities inside the S. M. A. offices throughout the Soviet zone and directs all the political life of that zone. It issues instructions to and receives reports from the Party organizers who act as political commissars to the head of each office, department, and branch of the S. M. A. Although the position of political commissar has been officially abolished more than once, it still continues unofficially in the army under the designation: 'Deputy of the Commander in Political Affairs', and in civilian offices as the 'Party Organizer'.
The Political Administration supervises the activities of the political parties in the Soviet zone. It is from this department that the German communist leaders, Pieck, Grotewohl, and Ulbricht, receive their instructions. Among other tasks of the Administration is the propagation and spreading of Soviet ideology. One department is concerned with the instruction of and political work among the German youth. All the educational plans and primers for the German schools are drawn up in conformity with the directives of the S. M. A. Department for Education, but they have first to be examined and confirmed by the Political Administration.
Without the Administration's approval nobody can play any part in the public life of the Soviet zone. Even where the simulacrum of democracy is maintained-in the elections of representatives of German parties and trade unions, for instance-the Political Administration predetermines the outcome of those elections. This is achieved by various methods, but preferably through a conversation in the S. M. A., where the 'democratic' representatives are treated with little ceremony, the demand being simply made: "Supply us with a list of your candidates for confirmation."
Besides the Political Administration, the S. M. A. also has an Administration for Internal Affairs, which is sub-divided into the Administration for Internal Affairs proper and the Administration for State Security. It is difficult to say what is the purpose of this division. In the Soviet Union there are officially two separate police ministries, the Ministry for Internal Affairs (M. V. D.) and the Ministry for State Security (M. G. B.). The administrative and criminal police, the fire brigades and the registrar's office (Z. A. G. S.) are attached to the M. V. D., which has a budget amounting to not more than five per cent of the other ministry, the M. G. B. To put it briefly, the M. G. B. is the secret police. In reality the two ministries are identical, but as the M. G. B. is too reminiscent of the Cheka-G. P. U.-Narcomvnudel, it has been invested in the sheepskin of the Ministry for Internal Affairs. After all, every democratic country has a Home Office or equivalent ministry.
The Administration for Internal Affairs attached to the S. M. A. is the central point of the M. V. D.'s widely ramified organization throughout Germany. Its executive organs are called Operations Groups, and each covers approximately a province.
Indicative of its work is the fact that at one time it made a very active search for former Gestapo officials, and comprehensive card indexes of former Gestapo agents were compiled. But not for the purpose of administering merited punishment to those indexed. The majority of those who were tracked down were subjected to a very thorough test and a moral and political 're-education' and then, in conformity with the usual Soviet practice, were enrolled as 'voluntary' workers in the M. V. D.'s network of agents.
Thus, thanks to the M. V. D.'s unwearying labors, a basis was laid for thorough supervision of the German people. One of the Gestapo's leading agents, Lange, is today in charge of a M. V. D. school for training agents. This school has a western and an eastern section, corresponding to the future field of activity of its trainees.
The M. V. D. Administration in the S. M. A. has a sub-department, which is charged with the oversight and control of Soviet military and civilian personnel in Germany. A similar service is performed by the department of army counter-reconnaissance known as 'Smersh', which was created during the war. Smersh is an abbreviation of the two words 'Smert Shpionam' (Death to Spies). The Smersh plays the same role in the M. V. D. as the field court-martial does in an army.
Under the M. V. D. set-up, for every established officer it has at least ten non-established collaborators-in other words, secret agents and spies-who are obliged to make a written weekly report of all they have heard and seen. If the total number of officials in Karlshorst is divided by the number of the 'operative collaborators' of the Karlshorst Department for Internal Affairs, it shows that approximately every fifth man in the S. M. A. staff is working for the M. V. D. In M. V. D. jargon this is called the 'saturation coefficient'. The ratio fluctuates according to the importance of the department: in the Political Administration it is higher, in the Administrative and Economic Departments it is lower.
The Department for Repatriation of Soviet Citizens works hand in hand with Smersh. Without exception, all the workers in this department are key officers of the M. V. D. or Smersh. The honorable task of returning erring Soviet citizens to the bosom of the fatherland is in reliable hands. The officers of the repatriation missions working in the territories under the Western Allies simultaneously perform functions of a more delicate nature, such as espionage-residents, post-boxes, and couriers in the espionage network.
The next department to be considered is the S. M. A. Juridical Department. It works on the principle succinctly formulated by the former prosecutor-general of the U. S. S. R., Vyshinsky: 'Right and law stem from the general line of the party and serve the interests of the Soviet State.' One of the tasks of the S. M. A. Juridical Department is to revise the old German law and draft new ones. To the astonishment of the legislators of the Juridical Department, many of the laws issued by the Hitler regime proved very serviceable and could be taken over unaltered by the new 'democracy'. On the other band, it appeared that quite a number of laws dating from the imperial and second Reich periods were somewhat inconvenient. One such inconvenient survival, for instance, is the German labor code, which the German Social Democrats fought for and won in the days of Bismarck. It conferred too many rights on the workers, hindered the development of the new democracy, and restricted reparation deliveries.
The purely military branches of the S. M. A., divided into army, air force, and naval departments, are occupied with studying and appraising the military experience of the German Wehrmacht and especially the German war technique. A large number of military-scientific research institutes and experimental stations taken over from the former Wehrmacht are used for this purpose.
In addition there are Departments for health and traffic, education, and a number of minor offices. The Administration for Economy has already been discussed.
There are provincial departments of the S. M. A. in all the chief cities of the five provinces in the Soviet zone, and their structure and organization correspond exactly with those of the Supreme Staff. Together with the local commandaturas, which exist in all the large towns, they form the link with the periphery.
The Soviet sector of Berlin is a separate administrative unit, and officially ranks as a sixth province. The duties of the S. M. A. provincial administration of Berlin are largely performed by the Soviet central commandatura in Luisenstrasse.
Almost all the administrations and departments of the S. M. A. Supreme Staff have committees for working with the Control Commission, which function as the Soviet representatives in the corresponding directorate of the Allied Control Commission.
The Group of Soviet Occupation Forces in Germany-G. S. O. V.- is a completely independent unit, having its headquarters in Pots-dam; its only link with the S. M. A. is that the S. M. A. supreme commander is also in supreme command of the G. S. O. V. The G. S. O. V. keeps its own account of special deliveries from German industry, the deliveries being supervised by its own control officers in the respective works.
Conditions in the S. M. A. and the G. S. O. V. differ in many respects. The S. M. A. officers enjoy greater freedom and privileges, and are better cared for in respect of food and clothing. Assignment to a post in the S. M. A. ranks as an assignment abroad, so the S. M. A. officers receive double pay, one in 'currency' and the other in rubles, special foreign equipment of particularly good quality as well as the ordinary army equipment, higher rations, and other con-cessions. The officers in the occupation forces complain to their S. M. A. comrades about their incomparably harder conditions both of service and of private life.
The local Soviet commandaturas play an intermediary between the S. M. A. and the G. S. O. V. They are small, armed units, necessary for the maintenance of the order guaranteed by the occupying power; but they also include economic departments and fulfill subsidiary administrative functions. Because of its wide variety of tasks and the special conditions arising from the division of the city into sectors, the Berlin Soviet commandatura occupies a special position.
Such, in broad outline, is the organizational structure of the Berlin Kremlin.
In December 1945 General Shabalin suddenly fell ill. It was explained that he had been overworking and must spend a time in bed. Meanwhile, there were persistent rumors that the Administration for Economy was to be reorganized. A little later I saw a code order from Moscow instructing General Shabalin to hand over his duties and work immediately, and to return to Moscow to place himself at the disposition of the Party Central Committee Personnel Department. No reason was given for this recall.
When I visited the general in his apartment he looked not so much ill as harassed and depressed. His mysterious recall to Moscow provided an adequate explanation of his illness. Contrary to practice in the democratic countries, where highly placed officials are honorably pensioned off when they prove unequal to their jobs, the Soviet leaders either climb steadily higher or vanish without trace. So the general had every reason to feel agitated about his recall.
A few days later he was on his way back to Moscow, with Kuznetsov accompanying him. At our last meeting the former economic dictator of Germany made a wretched impression: he seemed more like a man awaiting severe and punitive sentence than a highly placed general honorably quitting a post in which he had served meritoriously. He was gripped by the feeling of impotence, of complete dependence on the will of his masters and anxiety for his future fate, which is common to all the new 'class' of Soviet leaders.
On his return to Moscow he doffed his uniform and was appointed to quite a high post in the Party leadership, as secretary of a Party Regional Committee somewhere on the Volga. So his fears were unjustified. Although his services in the S. M. A. were not greatly valued, and some of his colleagues even considered him stupid, no direct censure could ever be made of him. He was very hardworking and devoted to the Party, which was the main thing.
After the abolition of the Administration for Economy all its departments became separate administrations, subordinated to the supreme commander's deputy. Comrade Koval was sent from Moscow to take up this post; previously he had been a member of the Council of People's Commissars.
Some of the officers on General Shabalin's personal staff were taken over by Koval's office; others took the excellent opportunity afforded by the reorganization to look for new jobs in other departments. Those former officers of the Administration who had had no special training and possessed no expert knowledge or capacity for economic affairs were attracted to Koval's personal staff, in which the work was mainly on paper and where the Party ticket replaced diplomas and knowledge. Vinogradov took the lead in this post-hunting. He became head of Koval's private chancellery, acquired a service car, and an office of his own. Nobody visiting him now would have believed that only a few months previously he had been hunting night after night for trophies in the dust and muck of Karlshorst's empty houses.
The second group consisted of specialists who were depressed by the thought of conditions in the 'apparatus'. These took ad-vantage of any opportunity to join the administration in which their professional knowledge would be of most service. After his return from Moscow, where he was raised to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, Major Kuznetsov was transferred to the S. M. A. Saxony and was given the post of head of the Mines Department in Dresden.
I, too, had to face a change of office. I could have waited passively for the Personnel Department to post me to a new job if I had not been afraid that, after checking my documents. Colonel Utkin might again offer me work in the Administration for State Security or some other, purely military administration. It would have been too risky to turn down such a flattering proposal a second time.
I recalled what General Biyasi had said to me before I left the college: "Wherever you may find yourself, you will always belong to the General Staff." Now, faced by the forthcoming change of post, I was disturbed by these words. Only recently I had been proud of the military-diplomatic career which was opening before me. But now I was more and more understanding the meaning of Valia Grinchuk's artless remark: "... simply live for the sake of living." Obviously the road we were traveling was not entirely in harmony with true living if we, two young pupils of Stalin, were both troubled by the same feeling.
The thoughts slipped vaguely through my mind: after all, I had come to Germany to free myself of my pestering doubts and hesitations. After all, I had quite deliberately chosen to go to the most exposed part of the post-war front in order to return to Moscow a convinced and thoroughgoing communist. Instead, after six months, I was now trying to make up my mind to turn off that path. Now that I stood at the crossroads, one way taking the road of a military career, the other turning back to my profession as engineer, I felt...
To avoid difficulties with Colonel Utkin, I decided not to wait to be called to the Personnel Department, but to talk to Alexandrov, head of the Administration for Industry. Alexandrov had come to know me quite well during my service with Shabalin. After he had gone through my papers he said he was willing to apply for my transfer to his department.
All went well. In those days there was a greater need of industrial specialists than of military men. A few days later I was officially appointed directing engineer in the Administration for Industry This meant that I was entrusted with the task of directing, i. e. controlling, a definite branch of German industry. So I had taken another step off the main road. But where was I going?
In essence the S. M. A. Administration for Industry performed the functions of a ministry for industry in the Soviet zone. Its most important tasks were, first and foremost, to ensure reparations deliveries, which involved close cooperation with the S. M. A. Administration for Reparations and Deliveries; secondly, to en-sure deliveries for the Soviet Occupation Force in Germany; and, thirdly, to ensure production for the needs of the German population. This last function was customarily exercised only on paper, especially when it could be exploited for starting a new undertaking. As soon as the works had begun production, that production went to reparation deliveries.
Shortly after the capitulation the S. M. A. set up a number of German central administrations to correspond with its own: a German Administration for Agriculture, one for Industry, etc. All these administrations were accommodated in Goring's former Air Ministry building and were obedient instruments in the hands of the S. M. A. Later, again on orders from Karlshorst, the German Economic Commission, D. W. K., was set up, on the basis of these German administrations, its task being to direct German economy in accordance with S. M. A. principles, but through German instruments.
The relations between the S. M. A. and the German central administrations can be shown by considering the interconnections between the S. M. A. Administration for Industry and the German Central Administration for Industry, since each was a highly important organ in its respective sphere. The duties of the two bodies can be stated in very simple terms: the first ordered and directed the second obeyed implicitly and suffered the curses.
Alexandrov, the head of the S. M. A. Administration for Industry, had a very deceptive outward appearance. Of medium size, with a bloated, inscrutable visage, he always spoke in a monotonous and dispassionate tone. But he had had great experience in the industrial field, and enjoyed the respect of his assistants. Until his appointment to Germany he had been deputy minister for the medium machinery industry in the U. S. S. R. It was very wearying to take part in conferences in Alexandrov's room, for one of his eyes stared continually out of the window, and the other at the ceiling. When he spoke it was impossible to tell which way he was looking and whom he was addressing.
Smirnov, the deputy head of the Administration, was a man with a pale, haggard face, thin, colorless lips and piercing eyes. He rather reminded one of the typical M. V. D. examining officer, and that resemblance was not altogether deceptive, since he held his post in a somewhat similar capacity. Although he had not done anybody any harm in the Administration, the majority of the officers preferred to have contact with Alexandrov.
The Administration included an Industry Committee, which had the task of coordinating the work of the S. M. A. Administration for Industry with the Industrial Directorate of the Control Commission. Its head was a gloomy and extremely unsociable man named Kozlov.
In the Administration for Industry there was a very different atmosphere from that which prevailed in the office of the Political Adviser, the Political Administration, or the purely military administrations. Although the majority of the staff wore uniform, they felt that they were really engineers or other technical experts, that they were all civilians. Here the first requirement was that a man should be a specialist; in the other administrations the Party ticket was the most important thing.
Ninety-five per cent of the engineers in the Administration were Party members. But that did not prevent their taking a more or less critical and independent attitude to their milieu. Though they did not always express their thoughts aloud, they thought and felt differently from the 'Party-men of the purest water'. Here the difference between the two concepts-Soviet intelligentsia and Party intelligentsia-was clearly revealed. The first group was just as much a product of the Stalin epoch as the second, but it was not by any means always sincerely sympathetic to the Party line. To a large extent it consisted of enforced camp followers. It is very dangerous to be an engineer and not to belong to the Party, and in practice it is impossible to continue so for any length of time. The second group, the so-called 'Party intelligentsia', whose only backing is the Party ticket, had undergone only a narrowly specialized Party training. So, willy-nilly, they had to be faithful to the Party, to which they owed their position.
One of my first jobs in the Administration for Industry was to help in fixing the peace potential for the industry of the Soviet zone. To get a real understanding of what this meant one must bear in mind the state of post-war industry in that zone. In brief outline it was as follows:
Immediately the war was over a number of dismantling forces swept over the country. In the Soviet zone they worked feverishly for several months under the stimulus of the slogan: 'Everything on to wheels.' They were governed by the one principle of dispatching as much tonnage as possible to the Soviet Union, irrespective of whether it would be useful there or not. There were no plans, and no limitations. The only difficulty, which the dismantlers came up against, and truly it was a very small one, was the sequestration of certain works by the occupation forces. If a factory was producing something the army needed, it was sequestrated: a military unit commanded by an officer went to the works and refused the dismantlers access, with a show of armed force if necessary. But in general this sequestration was of little importance, since it chiefly affected branches of light industry.
After their attack on Soviet zone industry the remnants of the dismantling parties were placed at the disposition of the S. M. A. The first step of the S. M. A. was to form a Committee for Liquidation of the War Potential, which very quickly dealt with its task: that of blowing up the war industry with dynamite. The works, which had already been stripped of their machinery, were now razed to the ground by sappers. As the German industry had been adapted to war requirements long before its outbreak, frequently it was not easy to draw an exact line between peace and war industry-in the chemicals industry, for instance. And so in this 'liquidation of war potential' a part of basic industry, if not of peace industry, had to suffer. The effect was rather like cutting the roots of a tree.
Part of the dismantling process had been treated as a state secret, and so the details had not been revealed even to the S. M. A. Administration for Industry. As for the rest, no systematized records of operations were kept in any case, so Alexandrov and the directing engineers of the various branches of industry could not get any detailed picture of the state of industry in the Soviet zone. In addition, the M. V. D. had laid its hands on a large number of items, and these did not appear in any books at all. This related to firms in which Moscow was particularly interested, and which it disposed of without reference to the S. M. A. These included, for instance, the experimental stations and testing bases for the V2 at Peenemunde.
After the first wave of dismantling and destruction of the war industry had come to an end, the S. M. A. attacked its chief task on the economic front: the extraction of reparations. But it must not be overlooked that in various forms the dismantling process continued. Moscow set literally dozens of dates for the final completion of the process, only to suspend the date each time.
As the S. M. A. has a special Administration for Reparations, with the largest staff of any department, it may seem strange that the Administration for Industry is in practice occupied with the same task, namely, extraction of reparations. One may describe its role as that of 'gunlayer'.
At this stage one comes up against the idea of reparations out of current production. This formula was a stumbling-block-even if only formally perhaps in all the negotiations of the various Foreign Ministers' Conferences held by the victor powers. Reparations out of current production are straightforward, naked reparations, which can be supervised, and so taken into account. The works directors in the Soviet zone are familiar with the special forms issued for reparation orders. The S. M. A. keeps the original, one copy goes to the works instructed to execute the order, and the second copy goes to the local burgomaster, who has to pay.
As we S. M. A. engineers were constantly concerned with reparations deliveries, we often wondered whether the value of the installations dismantled and sent to the Soviet Union was to be deducted from the ten milliard dollars which we claimed in reparations. The question interested us purely academically, but the Germans must have a much more practical interest in it.
The question of German property in Austria is just as academic. The Soviet authorities in Austria have confiscated a large part of the industry on the ground that it is German property. Assuming that it really is German-owned, the question necessarily arises: to which account is it to be entered? At one conference one of the leading officers in the Administration for Reparations asked the commander-in-chief's deputy for economic questions, Koval, a question on this point. Koval only smiled and answered: "At the moment I have no knowledge that this property is to be credited to the German reparations account." Koval's words are authoritative enough.
The Potsdam Conference gave the Allied Control Commission the task of fixing the limits of German industry's peace potential, so as on the one hand to exclude any possibility of a revival of militarism, and on the other to ensure the German people a Central European living standard. At the Foreign Ministers' Conference to be held in Paris in the early summer of 1946 the German problem was to be the first item on the agenda, and so the Control Commission and the military administrations of the four Allied powers attacked the problem of the peace potential. To this end the directing engineers of the various branches of industry were called to a conference with the head of the Administration for Industry.
Alexandrov opened the conference with the words: "In the immediate future the Control Commission will be fixing the definite limits of German industry's peace potential, on the basis of drafts supplied by all the four parties. The supreme commander has instructed us to present him with our views and a draft for a peace potential in the Soviet zone for his confirmation, when it will be submitted as the Soviet contribution to the solution of this problem. The supreme commander draws your attention to the fact that this draft will also be presented directly to Comrade Molotov."
He made a significant pause. Then he murmured something concerning the wisdom of the leaders, and the great confidence they had shown in us by entrusting us with such a responsible task. Indeed, one might well have believed that the fate of Germany had been placed in our hands, in the hands of a small group of Soviet engineers assembled in Alexandrov's private room.
At first glance the task seemed interesting and important. By fixing the industrial potential we would be practically establishing the Germans' living conditions. In their case the industrial potential was the equivalent of their standard of existence; it meant the amount of bread on the plate of every German in the country.
"What are our directives in regard to the method of working out the potential?" one of us asked.
"We must take as basis the average living conditions before 1933," Alexandrov answered. "We must calculate the average internal consumption per head of the population at that time, or equivalent units. With these data and the present population figures for the Soviet zone we shall arrive at the peace potential of the Soviet zone industry."
He had mentioned only the internal consumption. But every one of us knew quite well that in the German economic budget exports played a far more important part than the internal demand. If we left exports out of consideration when making our calculations, it would artificially reduce the volume of industrial production enormously by comparison with the 'thirties. "What about the industrial production that was formerly exported?" One engineer at last raised the question, which was interesting us all.
"Exports play no part in our calculations," Alexandrov answered in a monotonous tone. "During the occupation period the export quota will be replaced by reparations. If the occupation regime should be changed, something else will take the place of direct reparations."
He chose his words very carefully. He did not say: "The end of the occupation," but: "If the occupation regime should be changed." The first steps on the road to 'something else' in place of direct reparations were taken, in fact, much sooner than the change of the occupation regime itself; those steps consisted in the founding of Soviet joint-stock companies, which occurred six months later.
"What will happen to those industrial works, which are still producing beyond the limit today?" another officer asked. But then apparently he recalled the dismantling operations and quickly corrected himself: "Anyway, after dismantling operations are completed such a case is hardly likely to arise. But what happens in the opposite case; namely, if present production doesn't reach the limits of the future peace potential?"
"Such a case is purely hypothetical, so far as we're concerned. So far as it is necessary from the reparations aspect, we shall increase production," Alexandrov answered. "But generally speaking our job is simply to establish the limit figures. We're interested in the procedure only in so far as we need the figures for the Control Commission."
He had mastered his phlegm sufficiently to put emphasis on the word 'figures'. So far as we were concerned, the only guiding factor in regard to industrial production in the Soviet zone was simply and solely that we were to secure reparations deliveries. The establishing of any hypothetical peace potential for the future Germany was simply a courteous act of compliance with the Potsdam Agreement.
The task of drawing up a draft for Germany's peace potential was a simple matter, carried out almost literally to Alexandrov's instructions. The internal consumption for all Germany in 1980 was taken as the basis. The German population within the 1980 frontiers was taken as seventy millions. The population of the Soviet zone was some twenty millions, so it was easy to determine the peace potential by resort to the simplest of comparative calculations. So it seemed in theory. In practice it was, of course, much more complicated, especially because Germany was divided into zones.
For instance, a large part of the electro-technical industry was in the Soviet zone. In this sphere the actual industrial capacity was frequently higher than the proposed potential. On the other hand, there were several branches of the metallurgical industry, which presented exactly the contrary picture. From the beginning one thing was quite clear to all of us directing engineers: nobody was going to intensify or stifle the industrial production of the Soviet zone to accord with the hypothetical figures of the peace potential. Other, far more weighty factors were decisive.
The only normal solution would be to treat Germany as a unity. But Molotov did not ask our advice on that point. The draft of the peace potential was drawn up and sent to the Control Commission. We engineers who had participated in giving it shape were probably the first to realize in advance that it was unrealistic and unrealizable.
The draft was subjected to much discussion and revised again and again in the conferences of the Control Commission. Of course the first prerequisite of the establishment of a peace potential was German unity. The concession of a free and unrestricted commodity exchange between the zones could have served as a temporary solution if necessary. But a free exchange of commodities could hardly be reconciled with the provision of reparations out of current production because of the danger that part of the reparations might flow away into other channels.
During his stay in Berlin in April 1946, on his way to the Foreign Ministers' Conference at Paris, the Soviet foreign minister, Molotov, checked the draft of the peace potential and took it with him, as a proof of the Soviet Union's desire to establish a normal regime in Germany. At Paris he insisted just as vehemently on the necessity for establishing a peace potential as he did on the necessity for reparations out of current production. It is not easy for the non-expert to get the hang of these theoretical questions and to grasp that the two points are mutually exclusive. Molotov's escapades at the Paris conference were nothing but propaganda maneuvers.
While the S. M. A. seemed to be concentrating on abstract discussions of the German peace potential, it was also occupied with much more vital issues, with measures that pursued far-reaching ends: the socialization of industry, and the formation of the Socialist Unity Party, the S. E. D.
In the Administration for Industry I often had work arising out of Marshal Zhukov's Order No. 124. I had had experience of this order even earlier, while working with General Shabalin. At that time, day after day the marshal's private chancellery had sent us packets of letters and petitions in which he was asked to cancel the confiscations of German property which the S. M. A. was carrying out.
Order No. 124, which was issued shortly after the German capitulation, contained the guiding principles governing the confiscation of real estate belonging to former members of the National-Socialist Party and speculators who had grown rich during the Hitler regime and the war, and its transference to local German authorities.
As a rule the Administrator for Economy endorsed these petitions with the note: 'In accordance with Order No. 124 the issue is to be examined on the spot', without investigating them, and simply passed them to the local commandaturas of the districts in which the contested property was situated. In reality, the endorsement 'In accordance with Order No. 124 the issue is to be examined' meant that it was to be turned down. At that time I did not go into the question in any detail, and the confiscation of former Nazi property seemed absolutely justifiable.
Now, however, my work in the Administration for Industry brought me into very close contact with the undertakings that had been confiscated on the basis of Order No. 124. The order related chiefly to works in which the S. M. A. was not directly interested, i. e. works that were not likely to be dismantled nor could provide reparations deliveries: small factories, mills, repair-shops, public utilities, and cooperatives.
From the S. M. A. aspect, industry in the Soviet zone can be divided into two categories: useful and useless. To the first category belong the basic industries, which the S. M. A. controls with the aid of special plenipotentiaries attached to all the larger works. These plenipotentiaries are cloaked under all kinds of titles: 'sequestration officers', 'dismantling plenipotentiaries' (who, however, after the dismantling is completed, remain as the S. M. A.'s agents of control), 'reparation plenipotentiaries', 'Soviet construction or scientific research offices', etc. No matter what they are called, their task is always the same; namely, to ensure that the particular works function in accordance with S. M. A. plans. In these cases the S. M. A. was quite unconcerned about the complexity of the legal rights bound up with the property, but in any event all the legal aspect of the problem was solved very simply a little later, when the Soviet Joint-stock Companies were organized.
The second category of German industry was of no direct interest to the S. M. A., so in practice it was left to its own devices for the time being. It was pointless to place a S. M. A. representative in every small works, yet it was contrary to Soviet tradition and custom to leave even unimportant works without supervision. So it was decided to extend Order No. 124, which originally applied only to the property of former Nazis, to all the group of 'useless' industries, in order to extract the most effective value from them. For this purpose the works were expropriated out of hand, provided with the label 'district-owned works' (Landeseigener Betrieb) and handed over to the local German authorities.
Practically speaking, this was nothing neither more nor less than the socialization of small industry. In this step the S. M. A. was governed by two considerations. In the first place, it was necessary to deprive the second independent stratum of the German community, namely, the entrepreneurs and industrialists, of their economic basis. This operation had already been carried through in agriculture, with the aid of the land reform. Secondly, it lent itself to the pretense that the new regime was progressive, and thus, if only transiently, it made political capital for the Soviets and their puppets.
The S. M. A. lost nothing by this development. Under the new conditions of planned economy the whole group of 'useless' industries was condemned to extinction in any case, as it could not carry on without credits and subsidies. So it was fully expedient to hand over the unprofitable concern into 'the hands of the German people'.
In due course these 'district-owned works' loyally and wholly fulfilled the orders of the firms engaged in making reparations deliveries. And so, although the 'district-owned works' received no reparation orders themselves, they worked none the less to the reparations account. Q. E. D.
The socialization thus begun was extended more and more into other spheres of the 'private capitalist' sector. For its part, the S. M. A. brought the German 'local authorities' more and more into subjection, while on the other hand the hitherto comparatively independent sectors of "social and economic life in the Soviet zone were brought more and more under the control of these same 'local authorities'. The total remained the same, but the various entries were rearranged.
One of the most subtle moves of the S. M. A. Political Administration in the struggle for political domination in Germany was the formation of the Socialist Unity Party.
In the early days after the capitulation the S. M. A. took various steps to strengthen the position of the German Communist Party (K. P. D.) and to establish its authority among the German people. It resorted to methods well tried in practice: on the one hand extending every conceivable kind of privilege to the Party members, and on the other exercising increasing pressure on persons who were reluctant to become Party members. These methods were successful for a time, but then there was a decline in the influx of new members, and finally it stopped altogether. And the German people's respect for the K. P. D. declined even more.
Everybody saw that it existed only by virtue of the bayonets of the occupying power. Even people who previously had sympathized with Marxism realized that they had taken a wrong road when they came to know Stalinism in practice. Consequently the quite natural leftward trend of the German people after the collapse of the totalitarian dictatorship led to a growth not of the Communist but of the Social-Democratic Party. And, despite their 'left-wing' attitude, the S. D. P. D. was not very sociable, and treated the S. M. A.'s persistent advances with a cool reserve.
The special conditions of the transition stage, together with the very unceremonious economic measures being applied, rendered it necessary to observe certain democratic rules of the game at least formally. One of the first 'formalities' of this kind was the election of the German municipal authorities. The Western Allies repeatedly proposed that the question of general elections in Berlin should go on the agenda of the Allied Commandatura meeting, but the S. M. A. managed to postpone the question again and again-simply because Karlshorst was far from convinced that the K. P. D. would get the desired majority in such elections.
The S. M. A. Political Administration held many conferences with the leaders of the K. P. D. headed by Wilhelm Pieck. The Administration insisted that the Party influence must be increased by every possible means. Pieck could only shrug his shoulders helplessly. Then, after discussions with the S. M. A. Political Adviser, the possibility of a fusion of the K. P. D. and S. D. P. D. was raised. At one stroke that would give the K. P. D. a gigantic increase in membership, and therefore in votes.
The S. M. A. regarded the S. D. P. D. as a numerically very strong but politically helpless organization without a backbone. If the K. P. D., numerically very weak but energetic, unscrupulous in its methods, and supported, moreover, by the bayonets of the occupying power, could swallow and digest the S. D. P. D., success was assured, at least superficially. It was decided to provide the future coalition party with the temporary accommodation address of the 'Socialist Unity Party of Germany' (S. E. D.).
No sooner said than done. A violent campaign was initiated for the unification of the two parties. But the harmony of the concert was disturbed at the very beginning by the resolute voice of the S. D. P. D. leadership and headquarters, which were beyond the reach of the S. M. A. They flatly refused to enter the coalition or recognize the fusion, or rather the inclusion, of their members with the K. P. D. in forming the S. E. D., of which the S. M. A. was the godfather.
So within the area under its control the S. M. A. produced a few renegades who were ready, in the name of the eastern zone S. D. P. D., to enter into a socialist coalition with the K. P. D. The result was the formal split of the S. D. P. D. into two parts: east and west. A little later the inhabitants of the eastern zone saw brightly colored placards put up on their walls and fences, representing the K. P. D. and the S. D. P. D. as fraternally shaking hands. The Soviet officers sneered: "We hold out our hand to you: you'll hold out your foot yourself."
How completely Karlshorst had misjudged the Germans' political maturity was shown by the elections held in Berlin in October 1946. The newly born political bastard on which the S. M. A. had set such great hopes came bottom but one of the four parties that took part.
But although the S. E. D. suffered a shameful defeat in Berlin, where the Germans could give free expression to their opinion, it came to power in the provinces of the Soviet zone, where all methods could be used. The occupation authorities had enough means of influencing the masses there.
The building in which the Administration for Industry was housed was outside the Karlshorst military zone, and so the pernicious influence of the surrounding world had obvious effects. Opposite the building was a German newspaper kiosk where many of the Soviet officers on their way to work bought German papers and periodicals, on the simple pretext of getting 'practice in German'.
Compulsory courses in German were held in the Administration three times a week. Now the courses were stopped on some pretext or other, so an unexpected 'gap' occurred.
I was sitting in my room, looking through some documents. The door to the next room happened to be open, and I saw Captain Bagdassarian enter, throw a wad of newspapers on to his desk, and remark: "Now we'll see what new sensations there are today!" His remark referred to the Courier and the Telegraf, newpapers published in the western sectors of Berlin. He sat down at his desk, leaned forward and bent his head down.
A casual observer would have thought he was studying official documents calling for particular concentration. His first step was to open the Illustrierte Rundschau, the weekly-illustrated supplement to the Tagliche Rundschau, the official S. M. A. organ in the German language, which had Colonel Kirsanov as its editor-in-chief.
"So the Germans plough with tractors! Excellent! Let them plough; we'll eat the fruits." He turned over a page. "Ah, so we're ploughing too." He bent down over the paper in an attempt to pick out the details. "Apparently the tractor driver's been touched up, but he looks pretty sick, all the same. A black mark for Colonel Kirsanov!
"Ah, so now we have fancy cakes! Lovely, tasty, sweet, delicious cakes! This time it's President Roosevelt's son who is being regaled on our pastries. He had a fine father, but too much of an idealist. Pastries straight off a conveyor belt: open your mouth wide and let them drop in!"
He was looking at a photograph taken in a Moscow confectionery factory during a visit by one of President Roosevelt's sons in January 1946. We all knew that the products of that factory were intended primarily for export and secondarily only for the 'Luxus' shops. ('Luxus' shops: state shops where anything can be bought at extremely high prices beyond the reach of the Soviet people. In 1945-7 a tablet of chocolate in a Luxus shop cost 100 roubles, roughly equal to a week's pay for a Soviet worker.)
"And anyone who's tired of chocolate can have some bread for a change," Bagdassarian continued to philosophize as he turned over another page. "What a lot of bread! They're jumping right out of the picture." He leaned back and contemplated the picture with admiring eyes. But suddenly he sat up and exclaimed: "But they've all collapsed! Any German who's been a prisoner of war under us will recognize those loaves at once. How could they print such a picture for the Germans to see?"
I got up, went into the next room, and quietly advised him to talk to himself rather more quietly. Then I bent over and studied the picture, which had been taken in a Kiev bakery. In the foreground was a whole mountain of freshly baked bread. He was right, they presented a familiar sight: all their sides had collapsed, which meant that their insides must consist of raw, sticky dough. When our men at the front were issued with dry tack made from this bread they couldn't break them up even with their rifle butts. If anyone can be taken in by our export-propaganda, it isn't the Soviet citizen. We have a sixth sense in regard to the Stalinist propaganda cookery.
"But here are some good autos," the captain continued. He read the caption under the picture: " 'comfortable ZIS limousines, being run off in serial production in the Moscow "Stalin" works '.
"Immediately I get home I simply must buy myself a ZIS. I'll have to go on saving a little longer, though. How much shall I need?
The old ZIS model cost 29, 000 rubles. The new one costs 50, 000, they say. If my wife and I both work and save, we can put aside 100 rubles every month. That's 1, 200 a year, 12, 000 in ten years. So we shall only need forty years or so."
The door opened, and one of our drivers, Vassily Ivanovich, stuck in his head. When he saw that the atmosphere was peaceable he stepped fearlessly over the threshold.
"Good morning," he greeted us in German. Then he shook hands with each of us, faithfully observing the precedence of rank. "Your health, Comrade Major. Your health, Comrade Captain. Your health, Comrade Lieutenant." He turned to Lieutenant Kompaniyez, who was sitting at another desk. "My boss hasn't turned up yet, so I thought I'd warm up a bit in your room. Do you mind if I wait here?"
Until recently Vassily had been a soldier. Now he was demobilized, and worked for the S. M. A. as a chauffeur. He had a due appreciation of his civilian status and took every opportunity to greet officers with handshakes, to sit down modestly in a corner, and occasionally to join respectfully in the conversation. After five years of life in uniform, during which all his communications with officers had been confined to salutes and the brief: 'Very good, Comrade Lieutenant!', it gave him profound pleasure to be able to have simple human relations with them. He sat down gingerly on the edge of a chair by the door.
Captain Bagdassarian continued to look through his papers. The presence of an outsider prevented him pursuing his favorite occupation of pulling Colonel Kirsanov's work to pieces. For us Soviet officers in Germany the Illustrierte Rundschau was a highly diverting comic journal. And one not only got a laugh out of it, but could read a great deal between the lines about things not referred to in Soviet papers.
"Why, they've even remembered Trotsky!" The captain turned to the lieutenant. "What does that smack of, d'you think, permanent revolution?"
"It must be tactical differences of opinion," the lieutenant answered reluctantly. He buried himself in his German primer, and tried to ignore the surrounding world.
"Why, yes, it's tactical differences of opinion," Vassily Ivanovich butted in. "The one says, Let's break in from the front; the other says, No, from the back. The one says, Let's do it today; the other says, No, tomorrow. You'll find that even in the 'Short Course', Comrade Captain." He appealed to the Party textbook in order to give his words greater authority.
"I don't remember anything on those lines in it," the captain cautiously observed.
"There's something about the scissors, too. Do you know what that is? It's connected with the peasant question."
"I don't remember."
"Trotsky had a difference of opinion once with Comrade Stalin." Vassily performed a scissors-like motion with two fingers. "The one said the peasants must be sheared, the other said it didn't call for scissors, the peasants could be shaved. And so they argued whether to shear or shave. Only I don't rightly know who wanted to shear and who wanted to shave them." (Scissors: a term applied to the disproportion in prices of agricultural and industrial goods, circa 1923-1924. - Tr.).
The captain pretended not to hear what Vassily had said.
"Yes, it's obviously tactical differences of opinion," the driver muttered on. "After Nicholas, the throne was left empty, and every-body wants to sit in it. They say that when Comrade Lenin died he left a testament behind. Have you heard anything about it, Comrade Captain?"
"They say there are some funny things in it. It seems Comrade Lenin said more or less..."
Captain Bagdassarian was already fidgeting uneasily on his chair and he decided to stop this dangerous talk. In the Soviet Union the story went that in his political testament Lenin hit off his two possible successors in the following words: 'Trotsky is a clever scoundrel, Stalin a scoundrelly fool.' It was whispered that Lenin gave his testament to his wife, Krupskaya, on his deathbed, and that Stalin took it from her by force. Later the 'true friend and pupil' sent Krupskaya herself after his 'teacher'. According to the story, the testament rests to this day in Stalin's private safe. It was quite understandable that the captain would wish to turn such talk into another channel.
"Look, Semion Borisovich"-he again tried to drag his colleague away from the study of German declensions-"what a fuss the foreign papers have made over Zoshchenko! He's written some story called The Adventures of an Ape. Have you read about it?"
The lieutenant did not raise his eyes from his book. But Vassily Ivanovich spoke up again for him.
"Don't you know anything about it, Captain?" he asked with assumed astonishment.
"Why, have you read it?" the captain asked, surprised to find that an ordinary chauffeur knew of the latest thing in literature.
"Oh no, I haven't read it. Only heard about it. You know, Comrade Captain, we drivers know everything. We have to drive around all sorts of clever people, even Sokolovsky and Viacheslav Mikhailovich (Molotov) himself."
"Well, and what has Sokolovsky told you about the ape?" the captain skeptically inquired.
Upset at the doubts cast on the quality of his information, Vassily cleared his throat and began:
"Hm... well, there was once a monkey. Somewhere in Leningrad, it was. I expect war had already started." He took out his tobacco pouch and calmly began to roll himself a cigarette. "Allow me to tear off a bit of your paper, Captain. It has a better taste in newspaper.
"This ape suddenly got a notion that he'd like to live among human beings. He wanted to enjoy a little bit of culture. No sooner said than done: the ape got out of his cage and into a streetcar. When he got into the streetcar he was a genuine ape, but when he got out he was neither ape nor human being-goodness knows what he was. Then he went to the Russian baths. You know yourselves what goes on in the Russian baths. Nothing came of his wash, but he picked up a regiment of fleas. Then he felt hungry. He went to a shop. He gaped and gaped, and walked out again as hungry as he went in."
He took a long, pleasurable pull at the cigarette he had made from the Tagliche Rundschau.
"Where else he went to, I don't know. But it ended up by his going back to his cage, slamming the door behind him and huddling into a corner, shivering like an aspen. It's said he suffered a long time with a nervous breakdown. How the cage has been arranged for Zoshchenko, I don't know. I expect he's been put on the waiting list," he concluded with a profound observation. "Well, now I must go and see whether my chief has come in." He put on his cap, pressed it down on his head with one hand, and went out, closing the door quietly behind him.
"Do you know him well?" Lieutenant Kompaniyez asked, nodding at the door.
"Yes. He's a good lad, only he talks too much."
"What are you to make of him? Do you think he talks like that deliberately?"
"Oh no. It's simply that they've got a bit out of hand here in Germany."
"I don't know, I should keep on my guard. An ordinary soldier, talking about politics!"
"It's best to pretend you haven't heard. Otherwise you'd have to report it all to the Special Department."
"I don't think it was so common before the war. Do you think the conditions here have had any influence?"
"I should say! Now the war's over, every soldier feels more sure of himself. After all, they're heroes and victors too. Don't you feel that yourself?"
"Yes, that's true," the lieutenant assented. He contemplated one of the newspapers. "But the way Kirsanov's attacking America!" he remarked. "I'm amazed that they put up with it. We take every possible opportunity to sneer at them, and they just don't answer."
"Criticism of the Allies is strictly forbidden by the Control Commission," the captain observed.
"Have you been in western Germany?" the lieutenant asked.
I was in charge of the dispatch of dismantled equipment from Bremen, and I was absolutely amazed. Communist papers hanging everywhere on the fences, with great banner headlines shrieking: 'Down with America!' And the Americans walking past as though it were all nothing. But let someone try to put up a bill: 'Down with the U. S. S. R.' anywhere in our zone!"
"Well, but does anybody read those papers?"
"I seemed to be the only one. One or two people looked at them out of curiosity. The communists always stick their papers up at the street-car stops, and a man reads them out of sheer boredom with waiting."
"Maybe it's just an American trick. They can't really allow them-selves to be baited like that."
"But when you come to consider it, it's not so dangerous after all. Those papers do us more harm than good."
"How d'you get that?"
"Any intelligent man of the West who reads a communist paper can't help spitting with disgust. You can see at once whose money is behind it. The capitalists are to blame if it's cold, the capitalists are to blame if it's hot, and everything in the U. S. S. R. is super... lative... ly good!"
"And yet the press is very important. Take these two papers." The captain slapped his hand down on a pile of newspapers. "Here's the Rundschau and here's the Courier. We know well enough how it's done, and what's at the back of it, don't we? If you read the Courier there's nothing in it, it's dead. A strike is going on some-where, someone's been murdered, and an actress has performed some-where. And as you read you really do feel that the world's pretty rotten. The life's all right, but nothing ever happens."
"That's only because you're not used to it," the lieutenant commented. "Do you remember 1933? People were dropping dead with hunger in the streets, but the papers contained nothing but bliss and benedictions. In the West it's just the reverse: they live quite well and are satisfied, but the papers are full of panic."
"Yes, maybe you're right," the captain said slowly. "And yet... take the Rundschau. One long exhortation! Today you can't say the Germans have got any life at all. And at a moment like this they may answer the call. Hungry people go where they're promised the most."
"What would you expect? That's clever policy, first to strip a man of all he's got and then win him over with cake. A man with a full belly wouldn't take any notice."
"The appeal is a great force," the captain mused. "But there's no trace of that left in our country today.... We're already in the second round."
There was a knock at the door, and a thin-faced man in a green waterproof, carrying his hat in one hand, opened and looked in. "Good morning, Herr Captain!" he said in a wheedling tone, and bowed deeply.
"One moment!" The captain waved him out negligently. The man drew back and vanished.
Captain Bagdassarian hurriedly gathered the newspapers together and thrust them into a drawer, then took out some files of documents. "This swine says he's a communist. I must put the papers away, just in case," he murmured half to himself. Then he called: "Herr Meyer! Come in!"