The apparent contradiction of the major policy innovations of 1952 and 1953 reflects the continuing fundamental ambiguity of Soviet policy toward Germany. The March reunification proposal and the New Course promised moderation, reform, and rapprochement while the Construction of Socialism Program represented the radicalization of GDR domestic and foreign policy necessary to transform the country according to the East European pattern. The entire issue of ambiguity is futher complicated during this period by Ulbricht's growing assertion of independence, noted most clearly in his intransigence in implementing the New Course.
The Soviet proposal to the Western allies in March 1952 on the reunification of Germany, presented in conjunction with the revival of the spirit of Rapallo, was without doubt an attempt to preempt West German Integration into the Western military alliance, which had been hastened, in part, by Soviet policy in Korea. The radicalization of East German policy was not undertaken until after the West had rejected the Soviet initiative and after the signing of the Bonn and Paris treaties. It is arguable that following Allied rejection of the Soviet proposal, Stalin resolved to consolidate his position in the GDR because he could hardly count on a successful campaign to halt ratification and because he wanted to preclude the eventuality of a reunited Germany in an anti-Soviet alliance. This meant that at this point there were two feasible and acceptable solutions to the German question from the Soviet perspective: a reunited, neutral Germany or a divided Germany. The transformation of the GDR along East European lines indicates a new focus on the latter option, which certainly enjoyed strong support among the Ulbricht faction of the SED. Testimony to the totally unexpected nature of the adoption of the 1952 Construction of Socialism Program supports the contention that this represented a major departure in Soviet policy and was not the most desirable option. The shift in focus from reunification to consolidation of the GDR illustrates the interplay of Soviet and Western policy and the priority for each side of securing influence in postwar Germany.
Stalin's death reopened the question of Germany's future and the status of the GDR. The new moderation in Soviet domestic and foreign policy went hand in hand