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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 59: Report by the East German Defense Minister on
NATO's "Fallex 68/Golden Rod" Exercise, November 21, 1968
Defense Minister Hoffmann's report on NATO's "Fallex" maneuvers in October 1968 reveals the interesting notion that Warsaw Pact leaders felt the need to provide further justification for the intervention in Czechoslovakia. The interpretation Hoffmann offers, clearly reporting what the Soviets have told him, is that NATO had been preparing to take advantage of internal developments in Czechoslovakia to interfere in the country's affairs, and was only prevented from doing so by the Warsaw Pact action. (See also Document No. 56.) Thus the argument now is that there were military as well as polit- ical reasons for invading. Since this was not a public document but an internal report addressed to the East German National Defense Council, it was obviously not intend- ed for propaganda purposes. In the months leading up to the intervention, no internal documentation reflected this concern. Nor is there any indication whatsoever from Western sources that this entered into the thinking of NATO member-states.What was the "Fallex 68" exercise about?The main political goal was apparently to prove the necessity of the further existence and rapid stabilization of the NATO Pact. The rationale behind it was the thesis of an alleged "threat from the East"."…"The assumed political starting position of "Fallex 68" again clearly demonstrated the link between the United States' and West Germany's counterrevolutionary Ostpolitik, as well as between NATO's military strategy of flexible response and the U.S. global strategy. Linking in principle the political assumption of the exercise with events in the ČSSR suggests that, depending on how the situation developed, NATO did not exclude the possibility of rehearsing for, or even initiating, Czechoslovakia's departure from the socialist camp.The main political requirements imagined for triggering an aggression were:
splitting the ideological and organizational unity of the community of socialist states, especially separation from the Soviet Union.
an internal "softening" of individual socialist states. This year's "Fallex" exercise again confirmed the intentions of the Bundeswehr leadership to capitalize on the already existing potential for influencing NATO decisions, and to increase it further. The result was the acceptance of West Germany's opinion on the early, selective and gradual, as well as general, deployment of nuclear weapons against countries of the Warsaw Treaty.

This was indicated by layout of the exercise. In it NATO for the first time not only deployed nuclear weapons selectively within the scope of a limited nuclear war, but started a general nuclear war.

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