A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 18: Joint Declaration of the Warsaw Treaty
States on the Berlin Wall, August 13, 1961

The construction of the Berlin Wall was one of the most dramatic acts of the Cold War. At its core, the decision to build it was taken out of desperation as the only feasible way to stem the flow of refugees from East Germany to the West, over 2 million of whom had already fled. Of course, that is not how the declaration below presents things. Rather, it accuses the West of behaving with such aggressive intent against the interests of the socialist camp, and East Germany in particular, that "protective measures" were urgently needed. With astonishing understatement, the declaration acknowledges that the new structure "will bring about some inconvenience for the population." In fact, Khrushchev agreed to the building of the Wall only under pressure from Ulbricht and later spoke as if he deplored "this hateful thing."11In any case, despite his risk-taking, Khrushchev's hesitation was out of concern not to provoke the West into a conflict.

For several years already, the member-states of the Warsaw Treaty have attempted to bring about a peace treaty with Germany. These states are of the opinion that this problem is ripe for decision and can tolerate no further delay. As is known, the Soviet Government, with the approval and full support of all Warsaw Treaty states, has proposed to all countries, which participated in the war against Hitler Germany that a peace treaty be signed with both German states that could include the peaceful solution of the West Berlin problem by converting West Berlin into a demilitarized Free City. This proposal takes into consideration the real situation that has developed in Germany and Europe during the post-war period. It is not directed against the interests of any side, but its only purpose is to eliminate the vestiges of the Second World War—and to strengthen world peace.

Until now, the governments of the Western powers have not shown their readiness to reach a solution to this problem through negotiations. Moreover, the Western powers have answered these peaceful proposals of the socialist countries with intensified war preparations, with a campaign of war hysteria and with threats of military force. Official representatives of several NATO countries have announced an increase in their armed forces and plans for partial mobilization. In some NATO countries, plans have in fact been published for the invasion of GDR territory.

Aggressive forces are using the absence of a peace treaty to force the militarization of West Germany and to strengthen the Bundeswehr at a more rapid rate, equipping it with the most modern weapons. West German revanchists are openly

11 In a conversation with a West German ambassador, as quoted in Hope M. Harrison, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall: Soviet-East German Relations, 1953–1961, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 186.

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