The Soviet Occupation: Moscowís Man in (East) Berlin

The Soviet Occupation: Moscowís Man in (East) Berlin

By Norman M. Naimark

	The Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SVAG in 
Russian, SMAD in German) ruled the eastern zone of the defeated 
and occupied country from June 1945 until the creation of the 
German Democratic Republic  in the fall of 1949.  Given SVAGís 
importance to modern German and Soviet history, it is surprising 
that there have been so few scholarly studies of its policies, 
organization, and actions.  Yet when one recalls both that Soviet and 
GDR historiography refused to recognize that Soviet activities in 
Germany were determined by an occupation regime and that West 
German historiography, especially between the late 1960s and 1989, 
was often unwilling to ask hard questions about the origins and 
legitimacy of the East German state, the lack of attention to the 
Soviet Military Administration in Germany is easier to understand.  
Particularly in the West, the reticence of historians was also 
reinforced by the paucity of primary sources on SVAGís  activities.  
With Soviet and GDR archives closed to researchers from both the 
West and East, there was little hope for a breakthrough in the 
historiography of the Soviet presence in Germany. 
	With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the 
USSR in 1991, historians have begun to come to terms with 
Moscowís role in the development of East German communism and 
the creation of the GDR.  But despite the availability of important 
new sources in the archives ofthe former East German communist 
party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED),  and access to individuals 
who took part in the building of the East German state, very little 
progress has been made in advancing our understanding of the ways 
in which the Soviet military government worked. Who determined 
Soviet policies in the eastern zone of Germany?  How were 
decisions reached?  Who was responsible for implementing policies 
in Germany itself?  What did Soviet occupation officers think they 
were doing in Germany?  We have
known generally what happened in the Soviet zone, but have been 
unable to document how and why these events occurred. 
	The career of Lieutenant Colonel (later Major General) S. I. 
Tiulípanov is central to any analysis of Soviet decisionmaking in the 
eastern zone.  Tiulípanov was in charge of the Propaganda (later 
Information) Administration of SVAG, and he dominated the 
political life of the Soviet zone as no other Russian (or for that 
matter East German) figure.  One can argue about the extent of his 
power and the reasons why he was able to exert so much influence 
on the course of events.  But there can be little question that his 
machinations can be detected behind virtually every major political 
development in the zone.  A clear understanding of Tiulípanovís 
responsibilities and activities would go a long way towards 
elucidating the dynamics of Soviet influence in Germany in the early 
postwar years.
	The partial opening of the Russian archives over the past three 
years has made possible a much more reliable rendition of 
Tiulípanovís work in the eastern zone.  In particular, the former 
Central Party archives in Moscow, now called the Russian Storage 
Center for the Preservation of Contemporary Documents 
(RTsKhIDNI), which contain the records of the CPSU Central 
Committee through 1952, contain important communications 
between Tiulípanov and his Central Committee bosses.  We learn 
from these communications that Tiulípanov was under constant 
investigation by his superiors in Moscow and that his goals and 
methods of work were repeatedly questioned by party officials.  His 
reports and those of his superiors make it possible to tear down the 
monolithic facade presented to the outside world (and to the 
Germans) by Soviet Military Headquarters in Karlshorst.  Historians 
have known that Tiulípanov fell into disfavor in the late summer of 
1949 and that he was removed from his position shortly before the 
creation of the GDR in October.  But they have been able only to 
speculate about the reasons why this happened. With the opening of 
the Central Committee archives and the willingness of the 
Tiulípanov family to turn over documents related to S. I. 
Tiulípanovís career to Russian historians, the puzzle associated with 
Tiulípanovís removal can also be solved.
	The following excerpts have been translated from a recent 
collection of documents on Tiulípanov and SVAG, published in 
Moscow and edited by Bernd Bonwetsch, Gennadii Bordiugov and 
Norman Naimark:  SVAG: Upravlenie propagandy (informatsii) i S. 
I. Tiulípanov 1945-1949: Sbornik dokumentov [SVAG: The 
Propaganda (Information) Administration and S. I. Tiulípanov 
1945-1949: A Document Collection] (Moscow: ďRossiia Molodaia,Ē 
1994), 255 pp. The collection comprises primarily materials from 
RTsKhIDNI, fond 17, opisí 128, but also contains several 
documents from other opisy and from the Tiulípanov family 
archive.  The translated excerpts from the first document printed 
below provide a glimpse into Tiulípanovís understanding of his 
political tasks in the fall of 1946.  Here, Tiulípanov provides a frank 
assessment of the parties and personalities important to furthering 
the Soviet cause in Germany.  The second document is a translation 
of the 17 September 1949 report recommending his removal and 
detailing the trumped-up charges against him.  As best we know, 
Tiulípanov was recalled from Berlin to Moscow at the end of 
September, shortly before the GDRís official creation.
	I would like to thank Andrei Ustinov for his help with the 
translation from the Russian.  As a rambling stenographic report, the 
translation of the first document required considerable editing.

Document I: From S. Tiulípanovís Report at the Meeting of the 
Commission of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) to 
Evaluate the Activities of the Propaganda Administration of 
SVAG ó Stenographic Report, September 16, 1946

	. . . What is the situation in the party itself today?
	ó I believe that in no way should even the SEDís victory in the 
district elections be overestimated.  There are a number of obvious 
major shortcomings that threaten the worker, Marxist, and pro-
Soviet nature of the SED, which it strived to attain at the outset and 
remain important in its work [today].
	Most importantly, since the unification [of the Communist Party 
of Germany (KPD) and Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) 
in the SED in April 1946] there has been a noticeable decline in 
party work within the SED itself.  There is a marked political 
passivity among the former members of the SPD, which will long be 
felt among members of the SED.  The Social Democrats still feel 
frustrated by the attitudes of our apparat; the commandants have 
treated them with cautious distance; and they felt that they were not 
trusted completely and that they were treated inequitably.  We have 
gotten past this by now to a certain extent, but not completely.
	Secondly, even the most farsighted Communists feel the need to 
discuss every issue with the Social Democrats in order not to offend 
them, [and this] has led to a lessening of flexibility within the party.  
We sensed this especially during the elections and referendum.  One 
can also feel this in the Central Committee of the party.
	Full attention has been given to the technical questions of the 
organization, but not to its political character.  Organizational 
questions of the party were considered, while issues having to do 
with the apparat and with the masses, especially in Berlin, were 
obviously neglected.  This was demonstrated by the fact that there 
were no [SED] leaders at the biggest enterprises.  The Social 
Democrats took advantage of this [fact] and strengthened their 
position in Berlin precisely in the large enterprises and among the 
basic [workersí] organizations.
	Despite the merger of the parties, there is still a sense that two 
distinct groups exist.  The results of the elections, which were 
discussed in the Saxon party organization, offer [only] the most 
recent example.  The results of these elections prompted extremely 
heated debates.*  First of all, they [the Saxon party members] were 
disconcerted by the results because they had counted on a much 
higher percentage of the vote, reflecting the extent to which they 
overestimated their influence among the masses.  They were overly 
complacent because they could count on our administrative support.  
They were reassured by the fact that they had more paper, posters 
and other resources, and, if necessary, there was always the 
possibility to put some pressure [on the population].  This led in 
Saxony to a major overestimation of their influence on the masses.  
It was immediately obvious at the Saxon party meeting... that there 
was a group of Social Democrats talking on the one hand and a 
group of earlier Communists on the other. One still notices this 
	Organizationally the party is also still not fully formed, which 
can be seen in the fact that even the exchange of party membership 
cards has not yet been implemented, or, if it has been implemented 
it has been done in such a way that the individualís files are 
processed but they keep their old membership cards.  Both Social 
Democrats and Communists keep their cards.  And when you talk to 
them, they pull out their old membership cards and say: ďI am a 
former Communist and member of the SED.Ē  This shows that the 
party is not fully accepted as a real Marxist party....
	We have another dangerous problem here. óAnd I donít even 
know whether it is the more dangerous... and that is the presence of 
sectarianism among some former Communists.  This sectarianism is 
expressed in conversations, which are held in private apartments and 
sometimes during the course of [party] meetings.  [They say] that 
we [Communists] have forfeited our revolutionary positions, that we 
alone would have succeeded much better had there been no SED, 
and that the Social Democrats are not to be trusted.  Here is an 
example for you: once one of my instructors came and said: ďI am a 
Communist, so itís not even worth talking to him [a Social 
Democrat], you can tell him by sight.Ē  These are the words of the 
Secretary of the most powerful organization [in Berlin] and this kind 
of attitude is cultivated by [Hermann] Matern.  This is not to 
mention [Waldemar] Schmidt, who has gone so far as to invent the 
existence of a spy apparatus among Communists [allegedly] to 
inform on Social Democrats [in the SED].  This is over now, but 
serious problems remain.
	At the moment, it is hard to evaluate the strength of sectarianism 
among the [former] Communists, but one could estimate that in the 
Berlin organization approximately 10 percent [of the members] are 
so discontented that they are ready to join another group in order to 
break off with the SED.  The problem is less serious in other 
regions. From the point of view of the Communists [in the SED] the 
party is considered to be more solid [than among former Social 
Democrats].  But there is the danger that these Social Democrats 
hold key positions, and their group has much more power.  It is 
impossible to evaluate the phenomenon of sectarianism in a simple 
manner, because, at the same time, the right wing [the Social 
Democrats] dreams of the day when it will be able to drop out of the 
SED.  [They] have established contacts with the Zehlendorf [SPD] 
organization (we even have names) and with the [Western] Allies. 
	Nothing is simple.  The same [Otto] Buchwitz, who completely 
supported the unification, supervised the process in Saxony, and had 
served time in [Nazi] prisons, when he comes here [to Berlin] he 
stays with those Social Democrats who are members of the 
Zehlendorf organization.  When he was confronted with this fact, he 
responded: ďBut he is my old friend, and our political differences are 
not relevant.Ē  Therefore, contacts between the Berlin Social 
Democrats [in the SED] and this group [the Zehlendorf, anti-SED 
Social Democrats] sometimes have the character of a party faction, 
and sometimes simply of Social Democrats getting together.... We 
should very cautious with them.
	Therefore, there are two wings [in the party.]  There is another 
major shortcoming of the Central Committee of the SED and its 
district committees.  They do not seek out and develop new cadres 
who can work consistently with the party aktiv.
	In addition, the party is just beginning the theoretical elucidation 
of all of our earlier disagreements [with the Social Democrats].  The 
journal, ďEinheit,Ē which has [Otto] Grotewohl among its authors, 
as well as others, is still rarely read by the regular members of the 
party, and moreover, it is seldom read by [SED] functionaries.
	There still remains in the party a whole list of major 
[unanswered] questions.  The time has come to ask these questions 
clearly. Otherwise the party may become dominated by 
opportunistic and conciliatory members.  Deviations from Marxist 
positions pose a substantial danger for the party. There is a 
significant percentage of petit-bourgeois members [in the SED]; 40 
percent to 51 percent workers.  Still, neither the Communists nor the 
Social Democrats understand the new forms shaping the struggle for 
power, the movement towards socialism.  They do not understand 
that the SED is not a tactical maneuver, but the situation by which 
they can  achieve [....] that which was accomplished in our country 
by different means.  They do not speak about the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, but about democracy.  [Still], they have no 
understanding of the nature of the struggle after World War II.
	Then there is another issue; the party can very easily retreat into 
nationalist positions.  My comrades and I observed this even at the 
large meetings.  When Grotewohl spoke in Halle about social 
questions and equality between men and women, he was greeted 
very quietly.  But as soon as he touched upon the national question, 
all 440 thousand [sic] applauded. 
	Recently this issue was raised at the large party meeting in 
Chemnitz.  They argued that they did not have to orient themselves 
either on the Soviet Union or on Great Britain.  They should be 
oriented on Germany.  That said that Russian workers live badly and 
that they, the Germans, should think only about the German working 
	And now I would say the following.  I am not sure that for all 
that the party proclaims on its banners, [whether] they have 
managed to distinguish between the correct national viewpoint on 
this question and the nationalistic and chauvinistic [one].  In all the 
major addresses and reports in the preelection period, in the 
speeches addressed to wider audiences, the contents diverged from 
our censored versions.  As a way of demonstrating confidence in 
themselves, they carried this to extremes.  This was the case, when, 
at Polandís border, Pieck stated that soon the other half [Polish-
occupied Germany] would be theirs.  After Molotovís speech, they 
[the SED party leaders] were given permission to state that as a 
German party they welcomed any revision of the borders which 
would improve the situation of Germany....
	They are allowed to make this statement, but we run the danger 
of allowing the party to revert to extreme nationalism.  Despite this, 
the SEDís propaganda was unable to convince the population that 
the party is a real German party, and not simply the agents of the 
occupation authorities.  There are still countless such shortcomings 
and failures of [the SEDís] propaganda....
	Here is the principal question ó how should the party develop?  
Those whom the Old Social Democrats call functionaries, 
understand their connection with the party in this struggle, and we 
firmly count on them.  They are the basic party unit; they are those 
we call the party aktiv.  All the rest at best carry their membership 
cards and pay their party dues, but do not view the partyís decisions 
as binding.  An example of this is Leipzig.  Neither the provincial 
leadership [of the Saxon SED] nor Berlin understand the conditions 
in Leipzig.  Twice they met and twice they rejected the positions of 
the Central Committee and the [provincial] committee.  This is [not 
serious] under the conditions here, but in a different situation, such 
as during the Reichstag elections, these questions will require great 
	As for the situation in the [SED] Central Committee itself.  
Grotewohl is the central figure after Pieck in the Central Committee; 
and he enjoys authority among and the respect of not only Social 
Democrats but also Communists. (I am still working especially 
closely with him. I visit him at his home.  He has not visited me yet, 
but I would like to invite him to mine.)  All of his behavior 
demonstrates that he sides with Marxist positions quickly and 
firmly, and for him there is no problem of speaking up at any 
meeting, and of speaking up very strongly and saying: if we look at 
the struggle in our social life, then we will crush our enemies by 
force of arms.  However, at the beginning [of the occupation] he 
would have never used this expression, but he [now] sees and feels 
that these things are acceptable.  Nevertheless, he has a very well-
known past as a Social Democrat.  I remember how he hesitated 
before he came to [his present stance].  I remember his [hesitation] 
during his last discussion with the Marshal [Zhukov, in February 
1946], when there was only he [Grotewohl] and no one else, and the 
Marshal tackled the question of the political situation ó whether or 
not he [Grotewohl] wanted or did not want [to join with the 
Communists], this was the political choice.  [Zhukov] pointed out 
the differences between us and the [Western] Allies.  Nevertheless, 
[said Zhukov,] I am used to fighting for the interests of the working 
class, and we, if necessary, will crush all [opponents].  Grotewohl 
demanded permission to travel to another zone.  He went, reviewed 
[the situation], and said, I will go along with you [the Soviets].
	In conjunction with a new [wave of] dismantling and with the 
fact that difficulties [in the economy] will not diminish but may 
even get more serious, the danger exists that if we leave here that we 
will leave behind only one such figure [as Grotewohl], that even in 
the Central Committee we donít have prominent figures who would 
be able to lead the masses during the transition.
	Fechneróthe second Social Democrat, who wavers a great deal, 
a powerful parliamentary agitator, activist, a member of the 
Reichstag.... He appears to be a rather amorphous figure, not much 
of a battler, though he has produced a number of fine documents, 
denouncing [Kurt] Schumacher [of the SPD West].
	Of the other Social Democrats who are thereóLehmann, 
Gniffke: one can rely on them with considerably less certainty.  In 
the provinces we have only one such figure ó Buchwitz, on whom 
one can rely, but he is the age of Pieck....
	As for the Communists, Pieck is undoubtedly the most 
acceptable figure for all party members.  Pieck is the all-around 
favorite, but often he says things that he should not; he too easily 
accepts compromising alliances and sometimes states even more 
than the situation permits.
	I do not see any sectarianism on Ulbrichtís part. Ulbricht 
understands organizational work, and he can secretly forge any 
political alliance and keep it secret.  But Ulbricht is not trusted as a 
person. He speaks with greater precision and he understands [the 
political situation] better than anyone else.  But they [members of 
the SED] donít like Ulbricht; they do not like him for his harshness.  
Moreover, relations between Grotewohl and Ulbricht are not 
satisfactory.  Recently Grotewohl said [to Ulbricht]: you know, 
Pieck is the leader of the party, not you. However, at big meetings, 
Ulbricht always commands a great deal of respect, and even more 
for his efficiency at the meetings of the Central Committee, of the 
district committees, of functionaries, and others....
	Now I will move to the characterization of the LDP [Liberal 
Democratic Party].  The LDP was regarded by all of us as a 
counterweight to the CDU [Christian Democratic Union], which 
during the last year, from the beginning of the liberation though all 
of 1945 until the beginning of 1946, constituted the major party 
(within the framework of democratic organizations), to which were 
attracted reactionaries [and] anti-Soviet elements who were looking 
for outlets to express their discontent. 
	I will begin with the CDU.  We understand perfectly well that it 
is impossible to change the position of the hostile classes and that it 
is impossible to make this party pro-Soviet.  But we can accomplish 
the goal of depriving [the CDU] of the possibility of making anti-
Soviet and ambiguous statements; [we] can strengthen the scattered 
democratic elements in this party.  Therefore, when this party turned 
out to be an obvious threat and synonymous with everything 
reactionary, we undertook to arrange the replacement of [Andreas] 
Hermes with [Jakob] Kaiser [in December 1945]....  Currently, this 
party has a very diverse composition, comprised of the following 
elements: first of all, there is a significant group of workers and 
Catholic peasants, but mainly [the CDU includes] those who 
belonged [before the war] to the Center Party. Approximately 15 to 
20 percent of the party is comprised of office workers and 
	For a long time, we thought of the LDP as a counterpoint to the 
CDU.  I would even say that we promoted [the LDP] artificially.  In 
October and November of last year, we used [the LDP] every time 
we had to put pressure on the CDU.  In other words, we suckled a 
snake at our own breast.  And in fact, before these elections this 
party never enjoyed any credit [among the population] or any 
	[Now I will speak about] the leadership of the Kulturbund.**  
We have come to the firm conviction that it is now time to replace 
[Johannes R.] Becher.  It is impossible to tolerate him any more.  I 
spoke against [his removal] for a long time, and we had many 
reservations.  But now, especially in connection with [the process of 
the] definition of classes and the intensification of the political 
struggle, we must prevent the Kulturbund from becoming a gang of 
all the members of the intelligentsia.  We need it to become the 
cultural agency of the democratic renewal of Germany, as well as a 
society for [promoting] cultural relations with the Soviet Union.  
The Kulturbund ... has to be changed and has to have its own 
leading aktiv.  Without them, it [the Kulturbund] can only be of 
harm and not of use, and Becher cannot and does not want to 
change it.
	In his intellectual aspirations, Becher is not only not a Marxist, 
but he is directly tied to Western European democratic [thinking], if 
not to England and America.  He is ashamed to say that he is a 
member of the Central Committee of the SED.  He hides this in 
every way.  He even never allows us to call him Comrade, and 
always Herr Becher.  [He] avoids any sharp political speeches in the 
Kulturbund.  Becher is well known enough; in the current situation 
he  represents the progressive intelligentsia.  He would not, and did 
not want to, let [Erich] Weinert into the Kulturbund.  He did not 
want to let [Friedrich] Wolf take part in it, and he despises all party 
work [....]

Source: RTsKhIDNI, fond 17, opisí 128, delo 149; SVAG Sbornik, 
pp. 155-176.)

*  [Local (Gemeinde) elections were held in the Soviet zone on 1-15 
September 1946; State Assembly (Landtag) and Regional Assembly 
(Kreistag) elections in the Soviet zone, as well as voting for the 
Berlin city government, were conducted on 20 October 1946.ó
**  [Kulturbund refers to the Kulturbund fuer demokratische 
Erneuverungóthe Cultural Association for Democratic Renewal.  
See David Pike, The Politics of Culture in Soviet-Occupied 
Germany, 1945-1949 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 
80-88. óN.M.]

Document II: Report of the Deputy Chief of the GPU (Main 
Political Administration) of the Armed Forces of the USSR, S. 
Shatilov, to Politburo member G. Malenkov on the Dismissal of 

September 17, 1949
Central Committee of the CPSU (b), Comrade Malenkov G.M.

	I request permission to relieve Major General TIULíPANOV 
Sergei Ivanovich of his post as Chief of the Information 
Administration of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany, 
placing him under the command of the Main Political 
Administration of the Armed Forces.
	It has been established that the parents of Major General 
TIULíPANOV were convicted of espionage: the father in 1938, the 
mother in 1940.  The wife of TIULíPANOVís brother was in 
contact with the Secretary of one of the embassies in Moscowóan 
agent of English intelligence; her father was sentenced to be shot as 
a member of the right-wing Trotskyist organization. 
TIULíPANOVís brother and his brotherís wife are closely 
connected with the family of Major General TIULíPANOV S.I.
	At the end of 1948, organs of the MGB [Ministry for State 
Security] in Germany arrested LUKIN ó TIULíPANOVís driver 
ó for traitorous intentions and for anti-Soviet agitation.  LUKINís 
father betrayed his Motherland in 1928 and fled to Iran.
	Major General TIULíPANOV concealed the facts of the arrests 
and convictions of his father, mother, and relatives from the party, 
and he did not indicate these in his biographical information.
	A number of employees of the Information Administration 
departments have been arrested lately on suspicion of espionage, 
and several were recalled to the Soviet Union from Germany for the 
reason of political unreliability. Major General TIULíPANOV took 
no initiative in instituting these measures against the politically 
compromised persons.  He did not approve of these measures, 
although he expressed no open opposition to them.
	The arrested LUKIN, TIULíPANOVís driver, testified that 
TIULíPANOV revealed his negative attitudes in the driverís 
presence.  Felídman, the former employee of the Information 
Administration who is now under arrest, testified that 
TIULíPANOV made criminal bargains with his subordinates, 
engaged in extortion, and received illegal funds.  There were 35 
books of a fascist nature seized from TIULíPANOVís apartment.
	By his nature TIULíPANOV is secretive and not sincere.  Over 
the last year he has behaved especially nervously, taking different 
measures to find out about the attitude of the leading organs in 
Moscow towards him.
	I regard it as undesirable to keep Major General TIULíPANOV 
in the Soviet Military Administration in Germany.  I consider it 
necessary for the sake of the mission to relieve him of his post and 
not to let him reenter Germany.  The Main Political Administration 
contemplates using TIULíPANOV to work within our country.
	Comrades Vasilevskii and Chuikov support the proposal to 
relieve Major General TIULíPANOV of his duties in the Soviet 
Military Administration in Germany.

			17 September 1949		SHATILOV

(Source: RTsKhIDNI, fond 17, opisí 118, delo 567; SVAG Sbornik, 
pp. 233-234.)

Norman M. Naimark is Professor of History at Stanford University; 
his The Soviet Occupation of Germany, will be published by 
Harvard University Press in 1995.