The study of Soviet policy toward the GDR has shown a policy of complexity and ambivalence evolving as Allied relations in Germany and throughout the world changed. Soviet policy was developed to meet the intertwining national security and economic needs of the USSR first and foremost, within the constraints imposed by deteriorating relations with the United States on a considerably weaker Soviet Union. The international environment, the German situation, and Soviet policy toward East Germany interacted dynamically to provide both opportunities for and restraints on the Kremlin.
Any attempt to divine the true intentions of Soviet policy toward Germany must begin with the interdependent goals of the Soviet Union in the postwar period: enhancement of national security and reconstruction of a devastated economy. Stalin went to considerable lengths to conceal the extent of ruin from his Western Allies. The Soviet Union was in no positon to confront the West in a military contest but camouflaged weakness with aggressive posturing. Soviet reparations policy, the rejection of Marshall aid, and the Berlin blockade were all expressions of weakness. With regard to the division of Germany, as has been shown, Soviet policy was generally one of reaction to the progressive steps by the West to integrate West Germany into their alliance. The Soviets had no reason to expect Western aid or cooperation in reaching their goals, given their wartime experiences, particularly the delay of the Second Front, and the duplicitous behavior perceived in the American position toward the USSR between Yalta and Potsdam. The historical basis for mutual fear and distrust was not overcome by war-