A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991
Preface and Acknowledgements, by
Vojtech Mastny and Malcolm Byrne
This volume is the ﬁrst to gather in one place a comprehensive documentary record of the elusive and controversial history of the Soviet-led Cold War alliance from the inside. The product of a multi-year research effort, the book brings together formerly secret records from the archives of every member-state of the communist military grouping. Top-level communications between the alliance’s leaders, verbatim transcripts of multilateral summit meetings, and lively discussions inside the various party politburos are among the many previously unavailable materials in this collection. Topics covered in depth include the evolution of the pact from stage prop to fullﬂedged military alliance; the surprisingly dynamic relations between Moscow and the other capitals of the “fraternal countries,” particularly during times of crisis when the Kremlin was pulled in different directions by allies espousing more aggressive or cautious points of view; the upheavals in Eastern Europe in 1953, 1956, 1968 and 1980–81; and the turmoil—this time induced by the Soviet leadership itself—of the late 1980s, which led to the virtually simultaneous vanishing of the Cold War and the Eastern alliance.
The principal catalyst behind this volume is the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact (PHP). An innovative, multinational research endeavor, the PHP was established in 1999 to encourage increased military transparency in the former Warsaw Pact as well as NATO countries by enlisting research institutes, military historians and archivists throughout Europe to promote the opening of historical records that would yield a broader understanding of our recent shared experience in international security. The PHP’s primary institutional sponsors are the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., the Institute for Strategy and Security Policy at the Austrian Defense Academy in Vienna, the Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies in Florence, and the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo. Readers are invited to explore the PHP website, maintained by the Swiss Center for Security Studies, at:
As a cooperative undertaking of more than 20 partner institutions, the PHP has collected thousands of pages of material on security-related issues of the Cold War, published a large number of online documentaries on central issues such as mutual threat perceptions and alliance management, and organized several major international conferences on war planning, intelligence, and intra-bloc tensions. Project Coordinator Vojtech Mastny has helped to spearhead these efforts, including visiting all of the relevant archives, negotiating with NATO and former Warsaw Pact ofﬁcials and organizing research and collection activities. Playing a crucial role have been the dozens of scholars, archivists and former ofﬁcials who make up the PHP network.
Having already established a major Internet repository of historical records, the PHP decided to produce a traditional printed volume consisting of recently released Warsaw Pact documentation as a way to further disseminate the raw materials necessary for developing a more complete understanding of this important phenomenon of the Cold War. For reasons of maximum distribution, all of these documents have been translated into English. For reasons of space, virtually all of them have been excerpted. While the editors and Project partners believe this effort represents a signiﬁcant contribution in itself, the PHP has also posted all of the original documents, in their native languages, and in full on the Project’s web site, to be available to anyone who would wish to consult them in their entirety. This amounts to thousands of pages of important primary source material made accessible through the most democratic medium of information storage and retrieval ever devised. Beyond merely simplifying the task of researching these materials by collecting them in one place, this measure will guarantee the permanent availability of these records by removing them from the political or bureaucratic whims of governments that may choose to reimpose access controls at any time.
This volume appears as part of the National Security Archive Cold War Reader series under the CEU Press imprint. The Archive is the book’s other main contributor, in addition to being a PHP partner. As part of its own mission to help uncover the hidden history of the Cold War and broaden public access to it, the Archive established this reader series under the umbrella of its Openness in Russia and Eastern Europe project. The series represents a culminating phase of the project which, in partnership with scholars based in Central and Eastern Europe since 1992, has helped to pry loose new historical materials and organize ground-breaking international conferences to bring the latest analysis—and further public exposure—to the ever expanding record. Previous volumes in the series cover the Soviet bloc crises that occurred in 1953 in East Germany, in 1956 in Hungary and in 1968 in Czechoslovakia, with additional titles forthcoming on the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989. The current volume is a perfect complement to those compilations since the Warsaw Pact ﬁgured in varying degrees during each of those crises but examines the history of that period through its institutional prism, which provides additional dimensions to the subject.
As with other volumes in this series, this one has several basic components. One of them is the documents. The majority of these have never been published in English before; many have not appeared even in their own language. Together they comprise a unique, multi-archival resource that affords a variety of perspectives from inside the once-closed Eastern alliance. The only notable gap is on the former Soviet side. Persisting restrictions on access to Soviet military records are an exasperating obstacle that the PHP, among others, continues to contest. Still, the relative availability of Eastern European records, while uneven, helps to compensate to a considerable degree.
To provide an analytical and interpretive framework for the materials, another main component of the book is the introductory essay by Vojtech Mastny, widely recognized as an expert in the ﬁeld. The essay traces the evolution of the “Cardboard Castle” from its origins to its ignominious demise between the downfall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. The narrative is linked directly to the documentary part by providing footnote references to individual documents. The extensive footnotes provide numerous further avenues for research in virtually all the languages of the alliance. The third component are “headnotes” that introduce each document, presenting item-speciﬁc context that explains the signiﬁcance or special relevance of every entry. They were prepared by Malcolm Byrne in cooperation with Vojtech Mastny. A fourth component consists of additional research aids—a chronology of relevant events, a listing of key ofﬁcials, a glossary of acronyms found in the documents as well as those used to identify the archival source of each record, and a selective bibliography on the Warsaw Pact.
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A great deal of effort and cooperation by a number of individuals has gone into the preparation of this volume, for which the editors are deeply grateful. First, we would like to thank Magdalena Klotzbach of the National Security Archive who toiled on a wide range of tasks from translating Polish documents to helping research and write the chronology and glossaries, to organizing and copy-editing the text. Jason Roberts, also of the Archive, energetically pursued research assignments relating to the front matter. In another capacity, Archive Executive Director Tom Blanton, who helped forge the Archive’s connection to and support for the PHP network, was the ﬁrst to raise the idea of publishing this volume as part of the Cold War reader series with CEU Press.
Enthusiastic support for this project has also come from the other PHP partners and associates, particularly Andy Wenger, Chris Nünlist and Anna Locher in Zurich, Csaba Békés in Budapest, Jordan Baev in Soﬁa, Wanda Jarząbek in Warsaw, Sven Holtsmark in Oslo, Oldřich Tůma in Prague, Petr Luňák in Brussels, Matthias Uhl in Berlin, and Svend Aage Christensen in Copenhagen.
Additional scholars, researchers and archivists played a critical part in this process, identifying, locating and bringing to light many of the records from which this selection was made. A number of documents were originally published by the Cold War International History Project, a PHP associate and one of the leading sponsors of international Cold War research. CWIHP is directed by Christian F. Ostermann and assisted by Mircea Munteanu and Dee Beutel.
Another major group of individuals to thank are the translators. Several items were previously translated under the auspices of other programs, including CWIHP and the National Security Archive. But most of the materials were translated especially for this book. For that, the editors, knowing the demands that were placed on these talented individuals, are particularly grateful. In alphabetical order, they are: Andreas Bocz, Viorel Nicolae Buta, Jan Chowaniec, Greg Domber, Ursula Froese, Małgorzata Gnoińska, Thomas Holderegger, Anya Jouravel, Greta Keremidchieva, Magdalena Klotzbach, Mark Kramer, Marian Kratochvíl, Anna Locher, Jiří Mareš, Stan Mareš, Mircea Munteanu, Catherine Nielsen, Christian Nünlist, Vania Petkova, Sergey Radchenko, Karen Riechert, Jason Roberts, Svetlana Savranskaya, Bernd Schaefer, Douglas Selvage, Karel Sieber, Lena Sirota, Paul Spitzer, Rebekka Weinel, Vladislav Zubok.
Special gratitude to Karen Riechert and Bernd Schaefer for their extra efforts on our behalf, and to Oldřich Tůma and Jordan Baev for facilitating expeditiously the excellent work of their colleagues.
The editors, and their home institutions, wish to express their abiding gratitude to the foundations that have provided the support necessary for this book and allowed their other work to move forward. Funding for the Openness Project over the years has come primarily from the Open Society Institute, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Smith Richardson Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Finally, we are grateful to CEU Press for its continued interest in and support for this series. Their generous underwriting of many of the translations was vital. Thanks to István Bart, Péter Inkei, Linda Kunos, Krisztina Kós, Martin Greenwald and their colleagues.
Washington, September 29, 2004