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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 112: East German Intelligence Assessments
of an FRG Appraisal of the National People's Army,
April 28 and May 27, 1986

Providing more evidence of the depth of the spy-versus-spy operations that took place between the two Germanys (see Documents Nos. 80, 97 and 109), the following two reports document East Germany's acquisition and assessment of a secret West German evaluation of the GDR's army. The first report was prepared for Chief of Staff Fritz Streletz to solicit his evaluation of the accuracy of the FRG's information. In the sec- ond document, he concludes that it was mostly on the mark, although he offers some corrections. Streletz provides his views to Erich Mielke, Minister of State Security, responsible for the Stasi security service. Aside from what such materials reveal about the espionage activities of both sides, this kind of assessment also indicates how each side viewed its opponent's capabilities, and by comparison its own. Western observers were sometimes swayed by the GDR's impressive modern equipment and level of organ- ization. But since the end of the Cold War, some East German generals have acknowl- edged that in the event of a major war they believed their forces would not have stood a realistic chance of victory. One of the key uncertainties concerned the reliability of their troops in fighting other German soldiers.

a) East German Intelligence Summary, April 28, 1986

"…"

The government of the Federal Republic of Germany has evaluated the military significance of the GDR within the Warsaw Treaty. As a result of military–strategic classification, it is figured that the GDR has neither a nationally based military doctrine nor an independent military strategy. Its military projects are determined by the Soviet military doctrine and strategy, as valid for the Warsaw Treaty. The GDR places its entire military potential, its territory, and its forces at the disposal of the Soviet Union by way of the Warsaw Treaty organization. Leadership, structure, equipment, training, safeguarding, and also the concept of combat of the NVA "National People's Army" are much more closely oriented towards Soviet demands and instructions than is the case in other Warsaw Treaty countries. "…"

From Soviet military doctrine, it is inferred that a definite victory in a clash with the main adversary (the United States and the U.S.-dominated NATO) can only be achieved by offensive action. Therefore a strategic offensive action is expected in the European theater of war in the case of a war against NATO. Leadership principles as developed by Soviet military strategy as well as strength, structure and training of the forces of the Warsaw Treaty are characterized as offensive. The territory of the GDR with its geographical reach far into the West provides favorable condi-

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