Secret Intelligence in the Twentieth Century

By Nigel West; Heike Bungert et al. | Go to book overview

10

The CIA’s Berlin Operations Base and the Summer of 1953

David E. Murphy

The Soviets and many in the leadership of the SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands—the Socialist Unity Party) recognized that the demonstrations of 16-17 June 1953 had their origins in the legitimate grievances of East Berlin construction workers. It was also evident in both Karlshorst and Moscow that the Ulbricht regime had lost control of the situation and would have to be rescued by the Soviet Army. Nevertheless, within hours after the outbreak of the disorders in East Berlin, these truths were ignored and the blame for instigating and supporting the riots was placed on the USA, including the CIA.

The rhetoric of the Eisenhower election campaign in 1952, promising to ‘roll back’ the Iron Curtain, might have been sufficient to persuade the Soviets that such charges would be believed. Moreover, in October 1952, the US Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) had issued a plan which envisioned psychological, political and economic harassment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) as well as ‘controlled preparation for more active resistance’. 1 Unfortunately, while the CIA was represented on the PSB, there was a considerable gap between the plans adopted by that body and the CIA’s covert action capabilities in areas under Soviet control. Furthermore, according to Wayne G. Jackson, Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), Bedell Smith’s special assistant for PSB matters in late 1952, the clandestine services were most reluctant to expose to outsiders their plans and programmes. 2 It is one thing to formulate grandiose

-147-

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