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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 22: The "Mazowsze" Exercise for Nuclear War
and Interview with Gen. Tuczapski on Soviet Bloc Planning
of Exercises, circa April 23, 1963

One of the changes in Warsaw Pact strategy after the Berlin crisis was to account for the possible heavy use of nuclear armaments. The first document here describes a Polish military exercise from April 18–22, 1963, which was designed to prepare for a war involving the detonation of huge numbers of such weapons. The exercise takes for granted that practically every major Polish city would be hit, causing massive casual- ties, yet presumes that fighting would continue and that enemy forces would actually be repelled. In retaliation against NATO's initiation of hostilities, including its first- use of nuclear weapons, the Warsaw Pact conducts a total of 61 nuclear counterstrikes against Western Europe and the United States resulting in 33 million dead in the U.S. after two days, but only 1.3 million dead in Poland. In the concluding evaluation, the defense minister repeats the unfounded Soviet claim that the USSR possessed missiles that could strike any target on earth.

In the second document below, Gen. Tadeusz Tuczapski, who was in charge of Poland's homeland defense in the early 1960s, offers a very different viewpoint in this interview conducted by Polish military historians in the 1990s.17Charged with ensur- ing the continued functioning of society, the economy, and government administra- tion, Tuczapski was in a position to know what was feasible or not under wartime con- ditions. He claimed always to have been skeptical of the viability of some of the plans from the 1960s that presumed the normal functioning of government and society after a major nuclear attack. His description of how the Soviet military drew up operational plans and merely summoned generals from Poland—as they did from other coun- tries—to sign off on the finished product raises questions for historians about the behav- ior and motivations of East European military and political leaders in submitting to Moscow. Were they willing accomplices of the Kremlin, and if so, was it for ideolog- ical or opportunistic reasons? Or were they protecting their countries' interests under difficult circumstances? Tuczapski implies that Poland's political leadership did not know the details of the plans, nor did it care.

17 Gen. Tuczapski was among several Polish generals to be interviewed, and distinguished himself by being one of the most forthcoming and candid. For transcripts of interviews with East European former military commanders, see http://www.isn.ethz.ch/php/collections/coll_9.htm. The interviews gave the generals an opportunity to justify their record for posterity.

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