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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 65: Polish Army Report on East
German Misbehavior during the "Oder–Neisse-69"
Exercise, October 22, 1969

Despite efforts at the leadership levels to find common ground within the Warsaw Pact, relationships among the supposedly fraternal parties at lower echelons were often quite raw. This Polish report describes with some feeling a variety of transgressions com- mitted by German soldiers on Polish territory during the recent "Oder–Neisse" exer- cises. The document, from the Main Political Administration of the Polish Armed Forces, mentions that the East Germans still have a guilt complex about the last war but also show scorn for Polish organizational abilities and suspicion that the Poles are seeking rapprochement with West Germany over their heads. East German officers, the report complains, boast of a special relationship between Berlin and Moscow and show considerable lack of tact, for example by relishing the fact that some of their troops crossed over the Polish border on the anniversary of Hitler's invasion. Specific misdeeds ranged from the petty—throwing candy to children and taking pictures—to the serious, including a charge of rape, undoubtedly recalling some of Poland's bit- ter experiences at German hands during World War II.

"…"

During the "Oder–Neisse" maneuvers, "…" the attitudes of the NVA4 GDR officers and conscripts serving on the territory of the PPR were dominated by guilty feelings caused by the previous historical period. "…" The German comrades have very strongly emphasized their ideological and spiritual allegiance to the defensive union of the Warsaw Treaty's socialist states. During the "Oder–Neisse-69" exercise, the abovementioned guilty feelings of the NVA GDR units operating on PPR territory were replaced by distinct self-confidence.

One can conclude from our finding that the NVA GDR comrades put a lot of effort into the organizational and propaganda preparations of the military for the exercises. However, it is noteworthy that these preparations were directed almost solely at popularizing the GDR and its political and economic achievements. "…"

"…" According to our finding, during the preparation period for these exercises among the NVA GDR units, a special briefing took place during which peace initiatives of the party leadership and government of the PPR were not always accurately interpreted, especially in relation to the FRG. Proposals by the Polish side were represented as an attempt to establish relations between Poland and the FRG, excluding the GDR. These theories were conveyed by a number of the NVA GDR officers during conversations with Polish citizens. For example, during a meeting of the leadership of the orchestra representing the Neubrandenburg Military District with the factory council and directors of the porcelain factory in Chodzież, the leader

4 Nationale Volksarmee (National People's Army).

-339-

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