Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact

Vojtech Mastny
Project Coordinator
1920 North Ode Street, Arlington, Virginia 22209, USA
Telephone ++1/703/469-1777 Fax ++1/703/469-1771; E-mail:


PRESSRELEASE: 7 October 2003



Over 3,000 pages of top-secret documents of the Warsaw Pact's Political Consultative Committee (PCC) from 1956-1990 complete the online publication of the policymaking files of the Cold War military alliance by the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact (PHP), an international scholarly network based in Washington and Zurich.

The documents, obtained by the PHP from the archives of the Soviet Union's former Eastern European allies, follow on the previous publication on the PHP website,, of the records of the Committees of the Ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs. Reproduced from Russian, German, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Romanian originals, the documents are preceded by explanatory remarks by PHP Coordinator Vojtech Mastny.

Documentation on Hungary's participation in the Soviet alliance, introduced by Hungary's leading historian of the Cold War, Csaba Békés, complements the Bulgarian and Romanian perspectives on the Eastern alliance made available on the PHP website in the last two years. It discusses in depth the success and the limits of the impact of a small state within the Eastern bloc.

Among the main findings are the following:

–The Warsaw Pact evolved from a paper alliance, originally designed to be discarded in return for the dissolution of the West's real alliance, NATO, into the Soviet Union's main tool for waging war in Europe.

–The Soviet Union could never be certain of the military effectiveness of its alliance because of the competing priorities of its members, repeatedly demonstrated at the PCC meetings.

–Even while serving as a military alliance, the Warsaw Pact tried harder than its Western counterpart to relate its military posture to political purposes, defined in ideological Marxist terms, yet was being constantly handicapped by the Soviet system's political and economic shortcomings.

–In the second half of the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact was more preoccupied by China's threat to the Soviet Union than most contemporary Western observers tended to assume.

–Although NATO often served as a model for the Warsaw Pact's institutions the Soviet alliance never reached the level of cohesive partnership that was its Western rival's chief source of strength as well as the reason for NATO's subsequently becoming one of the pillars of Europe's post-Cold War security system.

–In contrast to NATO, the Soviet Union never allowed the Warsaw Pact to develop its own military doctrine and never clarified the division of authority between its Soviet supreme commander and the commands of the national armed forces.

–In the last stages of the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact's members nevertheless initially preferred its transformation along NATO lines rather than its dissolution, yet the transformation proved structurally impossible, leading to disintegration of the alliance because of its internal weaknesses rather than external pressures.

All documents published on the PHP website are available for use by researchers free of charge provided acknowledgment is made of their PHP origin.

Visit the PHP website at to read other documents and find out more about the PHP's activities. The website is part of the International Relations and Security Network (ISN), operated by the Swiss Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich.


Sponsored by the Center for Security Studies of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, National Security Archive at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, Institute for Strategy and Security Policy in Vienna, Machiavelli Center for Cold War Studies (CIMA) in Florence, and Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies in Oslo
In association with the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC, Lyman L. Lemnitzer Center for NATO and European Union Studies at Kent State University, Institute for Contemporary History, Munich, Federal Archives of Germany, Berlin and Freiburg, Danish Institute of International Affairs, Copenhagen, Association "Diplomatie et Stratégie," Paris, Institute for Political Studies, Warsaw, Cold War Research Group, Sofia, Center for Cold War History, Prague, Cold War History Research Center, Budapest, Institute for Political Studies of Defense and Military History, Bucharest, Romanian Institute for Recent History, Bucharest, Modern History Research Center and Archives at Peking University, Beijing, "Pax Mongolica," Ulaanbaatar
With support from Institute of International Relations, Prague, and Open Society Archives at Central European University, Budapest
Affiliated with the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes