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Speech by Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev at a Soviet-Polish Meeting in Moscow (November 10, 1958)

In November 1958, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev accused the Western powers of violating the demilitarization clause of the Potsdam Agreement of 1945 by rearming West Germany. He also accused them of using their privileges in West Berlin to undermine the integrity of the GDR. Khrushchev therefore threatened to put an end to the occupying powers’ presence in Berlin. He wanted to force the Western powers to recognize the GDR and eliminate their outpost in West Berlin. Two weeks later, the Soviet Union demanded that West Berlin be demilitarized within six months and declared it a “free city.” Negotiations defused the crisis by the early summer 1959.

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The imperialists have turned the German question into an abiding source of international tension. The ruling circles of Western Germany are doing everything to whip up military passions against the German Democratic Republic, against the Polish People’s Republic, against all the socialist countries. Speeches by Chancellor Adenauer and Defence Minister Strauss, the atomic arming of the Bundeswehr and various military exercises all speak of a definite trend in the policy of the ruling circles of Western Germany.

We want to warn the leaders of the Federal Republic of Germany: The road followed by Western Germany today is a road dangerous to peace in Europe and fatal to Western Germany herself. Indeed, can realistically minded politicians today hope for the success of a new “march to the East”? Hitler in his time also did everything to fan war hysteria, in order to prepare the ground for an attack on the Soviet Union. However, it is well known how it all ended. It is not hard to imagine the fate of those who would try to unleash new aggression against the socialist states. No speeches by Chancellor Adenauer or his Minister Strauss can change the balance of forces in favour of imperialism. To march against the East would mean marching to death for Western Germany.

It is high time to realise that the times when the imperialists could act from “positions of strength” with impunity have gone never to return, and try as they may, the imperialists will not be able to change the balance of forces in their favour. Nor should they forget the geographical position of Western Germany – which with military techniques as they are today – would not survive a single day of modern warfare. We do not want another military conflict. It would be fatal to Western Germany and would bring untold calamities to the peoples of other countries. The Soviet Union and the other socialist countries are doing everything to keep the adventurists dreaming of new wars from taking the fatal step. The West German policy-makers would do well to consider more soberly the existing situation and desist from whipping up military passions.

[ . . . ]

The western press today often says that the government of the Federal Republic of Germany is planning to approach the Soviet Union, the United States of America, Britain and France with a proposal to call for a new four-power meeting to settle for the Germans, and without the Germans, the question of the unification of their country. But this is nothing but a continuation of the old, unrealistic policy which is contrary to common sense and devoid of legal justification. No powers have the right to interfere in the internal affairs of the German Democratic Republic and to dictate their will to it.

We quite understand the German people’s natural yearning for the restoration of their national unity. But German militarists and their American patrons are using these heart-felt national sentiments for purposes that have nothing to do either with the reunification of Germany or with ensuring a lasting peace in Europe. The militaristic circles of Western Germany are in fact following the road of widening the division of the country and preparing military adventures. If the West German government really wanted reunification, it would have followed the only way leading to this, the way of establishing contacts with the government of the German Democratic Republic, the way of agreement that would suit both the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany.

The German question, in the sense of the reunification of the two German states now in existence, can only be settled by the German people themselves along the lines of rapprochement between these states. The conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany is an entirely different matter which, indeed, should be settled primarily by the four powers which formed the anti-Hitler coalition, in co-operation with representatives of Germany. The signing of a peace treaty with Germany would help to normalise the entire situation in Germany and in Europe in general.

The Soviet Union has proposed and is proposing that this measure should be tackled without delay.

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