Christensen C.S. The maritime offensive strategy in the Baltic Sea area during the Cold War (1960-1990): the Warsaw Pact, NATO, the USSR, Poland, the GDR and Denmark

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УДК 359:327[54:5]

THE MARITIME OFFENSIVE STRATEGY

IN THE BALTIC SEA AREA DURING THE COLD WAR (1960-1990):

THE WARSAW PACT, NATO, THE USSR, POLAND, THE GDR AND DENMARK

 Christensen C.S.

From the beginning of 1960s, an occupation of Denmark was a theme in the Warsaw Pact military exercises and manoeuvres in the so-called Cold War. This is connected to a struggle for a maritime offensive strategy, as well inside the USSR as internal among Soviet allies with the aim of securing the fleets of the Warsaw Pact access to the North Sea and the Atlantic in case of war with NATO members. In the GDR and Poland these plans were very important in the national military strategies. However, the Soviet navy also played an important role in abovementioned maritime strategy. But was it really so great in different occupation plans of Denmark? Or was it first and foremost a local strategy of the Warsaw Pact countries in the western part of the Baltic Sea area? The article provides answers to these questions. There is also given a description of the strategic importance of Denmark in the Baltic Sea, and its influence on the Danish foreign politics in decades.

Keywords: Cold War, GDR, BRD, Poland, Denmark, military manoeuvers, Warsaw Pact, Baltic Sea, USSR, NATO, maritime strategy, Berlin Wall, Vyacheslav Molotov, Sergey Gorshkov, Andrei Grechko, Vasily Sokolovsky.

 

МОРСКАЯ НАСТУПАТЕЛЬНАЯ СТРАТЕГИЯ В РЕГИОНЕ БАЛТИЙСКОГО МОРЯ

В ПЕРИОД ХОЛОДНОЙ ВОЙНЫ (1960-1990 ГГ.):

ВАРШАВСКИЙ ДОГОВОР, НАТО, СССР, ПОЛЬША, ГДР И ДАНИЯ

 Кристенсен К.С.

С начала 1960-х гг. оккупация Дании была темой военных учений и маневров стран Варшавского договора в так называемой холодной войне. Это связано с борьбой за морскую наступательную стратегию как в СССР, так и среди его союзников c целью обеспечения флотам стран Варшавского договора выхода в Северное море и Атлантику в случае войны с членами НАТО. В национальных военных стратегиях ГДР и Польши эти планы были очень важны. Однако в вышеупомянутой морской стратегии советский военно-морской флот также играл большую роль. Но была ли эта роль столь значима в имевшихся планах по оккупации Дании? Или это была, прежде всего, локальная стратегия стран Варшавского договора в западной части Балтийского моря? В статье даются ответы на эти вопросы. Также представлено описание стратегического значения Дании в Балтийском море и того, как это влияло на датскую внешнюю политику в течение десятилетий.

 Ключевые слова: холодная война, ГДР, ФРГ, Польша, Дания, военные маневры, Варшавский договор, Балтийское море, СССР, НАТО, морская стратегия, Берлинская стена, Вячеслав Молотов, Сергей Горшков, Андрей Гречко, Василий Соколовский.

 

Prologue

The period after World War II was marked by the so-called Cold War. The balance of power between the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, lasted about 45 years. In those decades, the relationship was not always equally strained, but in the 1960s and 1970s, the relationship was even very strained. The Cuba Missile Crisis in October 1962 was probably the closest the world came to a real threat of war, in the 45 years. After that, however, the relationship became very tense.

The most important questions in the Baltic Sea area were – would the war come? Would it be a conventional war or a nuclear one? If yes, when would it come? How should the various parties in the NATO and Warsaw Pact deal with a possible war scenario? And most importantly for Denmark – what role would the country have? And would a membership of the Atlantic Pact and its general deterrent effect secure Denmark against an occupation of the country again? This time implied the Soviet occupation. Or, on the contrary, would a NATO membership more likely call for a catastrophe over the small Scandinavian country and would it make Danish territory a real war scene area between East and West? [9, s. 155-163; 10, s. 12-17]

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and in the years that followed the Cold War ended definitively. This led to major changes in both the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc. However, biggest changes were in the Eastern Bloc. The German reunification in 1990 was probably the most significant event in the Baltic Sea region. This had several important meanings. The German reunification not only mean, that many central historical archives, formerly located in East Germany, like the Zentrales Staatsarchiv in East Berlin, were opened and made available to the public and local citizens. Significant losses of significant documents also occurred. By the destruction of classified material all over the Eastern Bloc and destruction of archival material in 1989 and 1990 or by the confiscation of specially classified documents by Soviet authorities stationed in East Germany and Poland. Or even by the GDR or Polish communist authorities. Thus, many very important military plans were lost, among other things, actual adopted operational plans are missing. On the other hand, there are large amounts of documents (around 25,000 pieces) dealing with operational material from GDR's military exercises and military manoeuvres. As well as from military exercises and military manoeuvres of the Warsaw Pact in which East Germany and Poland participated.

The importance of manoeuvres, war games and other military, operational exercises has sometimes been questioned. Especially by those, who for one reason or another have taken an apologetic stance on issues that concern the exercises. Exercises of various kinds, however, form an important part of military training and evaluation. The purpose of them is to test weapons and not least strategic theories, for which there are not so many other possibilities in peacetime. It is not the case that exercises, and especially not manoeuvres, deal with all sorts of, well-thought-out war cases. It is especially regarding manoeuvres, the question of large and expensive investments, which must be reserved for extremely important tasks. Preparations for and analyses and evaluations of exercises occupied a large part of the work of the military staffs in the Warsaw Pact. In the East German archives that opened in the early 1990s, there was a wealth of material on just such military exercises. These archives therefore constitute an important source for the understanding and mapping of the former Eastern Bloc’s military and strategic considerations in the event of an attack on the Western Bloc, as well as for the understanding of a comprehensive or national maritime strategy in the Baltic Sea area [13, s. 143-145].

Denmark, its strategic location and the Cold War

“The goal, the preservation of peace, is also Denmark’s, in deep accord with the ardent desire and old tradition of the Danish people”, a citation of the Danish Foreign Minister, Gustav Rasmussen (1895-1953) at the signing ceremony of the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949, in Washington. Throughout the period 1949-1991, Denmark was firmly rooted in NATO. For Danish security policy in general and the relationship with the Eastern Bloc in particular, alliance membership played the overriding role. The significance of NATO membership for Danish foreign and security policy can hardly be overestimated. The obligations towards NATO weighed significantly heavier than the reservations that Denmark had. Primarily was the decision not to have nuclear weapons on Danish soil in peacetime. Overall, Denmark was not a reserved ally, but was more and more politically and militarily integrated into NATO and was largely perceived by its partners as a loyal alliance member. Both in reality, and in the opinion of the informed outside world, the Danish commitment strategy towards NATO together weighed much heavier than the restrictions on military integration, which were also included in Danish security policy. From the Soviet side, Denmark was seen in the big picture as a country whose basic security policy orientation did not realistically change, but at the same time there is also an Eastern Bloc perception that Denmark was one of the “weak links in the chain” [14, s. 532-534].

Eastern attempts at influence were not decisive for Danish security policy, but the relationship with the East was. As was the case with even the largest NATO allies, the subject of constant consideration, including the balances between deterrence and non-provocation. Alliance membership was the main precondition for the Danish side to avoid leniency or a policy of retaliation towards the East, and Denmark did not “adapt” to the Soviet Union at any time. The firmness with which Danish governments counteracted Eastern pressure attempts was repeatedly noted in reports from the NATO countries’ representations in Copenhagen. At the same time, it is a recurring theme in the Western diplomatic reports from Copenhagen that part of Danish opinion was neutralist oriented [3, s. 22-24; 10, s. 127-130; 13, s. 598-600].

The Eastern influence effort had a very modest effect on the Danes’ general image of the Eastern political systems, society and foreign policy. On the other hand, the effort can hardly be denied a certain effect on the content of the agenda, especially for the security policy debate in Denmark. To a large extent, however, the themes and dynamics of this debate were determined by broader international trends and by developments and currents of ideas within Western societies [4, s. 51-54].

Denmark, although geographically small, was and still is to a certain amount a strategic giant. A bridge between the north and south of Europe, the gatekeeper of the Baltic Straits and the key holder to Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Denmark is a key strategic player for Western Allies. It opens the way to the Baltic Sea and the Arctic, while providing an essential steppingstone between Europe and North America. In 1949, turning its back on decades of strict neutrality, the Danish Folketing (the Danish Parliament) voted largely in support of NATO membership. Throughout the Cold War, the tradition of neutrality occasionally permeated the country’s defence and foreign policies and sometimes manifested itself during discussions within the Alliance. However, this former neutral power of approximately four million inhabitants at the time had a vital role to play and, later in the post-Cold War period, it proved to be one of the Alliance’s most reliable and active members [5, s. 77-81].

To satisfy all parties and opinions throughout the country, the Danish government laid down limitations to NATO membership, effectively excluding the country from full military integration. The conditions were threefold: no bases, no nuclear warheads and no allied military activity on Danish territory. Denmark was not alone in imposing these restrictions: both Norway and Iceland adopted similar policies. According to these three countries, by adopting this position they were able to stress the defensive nature of the Alliance’s stance and help avoid aggravating relations with the Soviet Union. Denmark’s base reservation policy was implemented from 1953 onwards, except for Greenland, where the Danes accepted the permanent peacetime stationing of American forces on its territory. Regarding NATO’s nuclear policy, Denmark refused the stationing of nuclear weapons on Danish territory in peacetime from the 1950s onwards, including Greenland. And the restrictions against Allied military activities also applied to the entire Danish Kingdom, including the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, where restrictions lasted longer than on the mainland due to the terms of return of the island to Denmark in 1946. All of this, however, did not stop Denmark from participating in NATO exercises or even hosting them [6, s. 88; 13, s. 410].

Soviet maritime strategy, Sergey Gorshkov and the global force

Perceptions about the respective importance of land and naval power, as well as closely related to this, about the goals and means of warfare have varied over time and space. As far as the Soviet Union is concerned, the defence until the mid-1950s seems to have had a strong continental focus with an emphasis on conventional warfare. From this time, however, a new, maritime and offensive direction began to emerge with greater emphasis on the use of nuclear weapons. This change in Soviet military strategy had to be seen in the light of the changed leadership style following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. The new First Secretary of the Soviet Union in the following year, Nikita Khrushchev, wanted to take up the competition with USA in different areas than his predecessor. A military line that his successor, the First Secretary of the Soviet Union from 1964 until 1982, Leonid Brezhnev led on.

However, the change did not go unnoticed in military circles in the big country. For decades, generals and colonels in the army (the so-called Stalingrad clique) opposed the top officers of the navy. Over the years, several coups attempt, and conspiracies were carried out against Nikita Khrushchev. The most important took place in June 1957, when Vyacheslav Molotov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, proposed the Central Committee of the Communist Party on behalf of the opposition, the 11-member presidium that Khrushchev was immediately removed from his post as party secretary general. Most of the Bureau supported the proposal, and Khrushchev was apparently done. But at the last minute he succeeded in having the decision of the Bureau brought before the Central Committee, which he completely dominated. The result was that the rebels – Vyacheslav Molotov, Georgy Malenkov, Lazar Kaganovich, Dmitri Shepilov and Maksim Saburov were all immediately purged [2].

However, Nikita Khrushchev got two very high-ranked and very effective navy and army officers: admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union Sergey Gorshkov and marshal of the Soviet Union Vasily Sokolovsky. The first mentioned is worldwide considered a navy military genius and he oversaw the expansion of the Soviet Navy into a global force during the Cold War in the 1960s and 1970s.

Until Nikita Khrushchev’s takeover of the power in Moscow in the mid-1950s, the navy had not meant much in the overall military strategy. The strategy relied heavily on the army and conventional warfare, especially in European territory. Throughout the Cold War, the Eastern Bloc was superior to the number of conventional forces in Europe. The navy was therefore relatively insignificant. After 1955, however, the creation of a large, nuclear-armed, ocean-going fleet began. Thus, by the end of the 1970s, the Soviet Union developed into a first-class naval force with a fleet of 900 surface-to-sea vessels, compared with 700 on the NATO side and about 360 submarines, compared with 260 on the NATO side. Quantitatively though not qualitatively. Most of the Soviet submarines were conventionally propelled, while the submarines of the Western Bloc were nuclear-powered. Nevertheless, the Eastern Bloc thereby achieved superiority over NATO [7, s. 44-45].

Sergey Gorshkov, like Nikita Khrushchev, came from the present country of Ukraine. And he, like Khrushchev, shared his interest in the renewal and technologization of the armed forces at the expense of conventional forces, especially within the armed forces unlike the so-called traditionalists, high-ranked officers in the Red Army. Sergey Gorshkov was strongly involved in the battle within the military hierarchy. Modern technology and quality instead of quantity were the new code words. The abovementioned Marshal Vasily Sokolovsky, represented a third direction in the army, the so-called centralists [15, p. 30-33].

During the 1970s, Sergey Gorshkov also published a main work on a major naval war in the West “The sea power of the State”. In this book, he developed his ideas about the Soviet fleet as an instrument of geostrategy and about the decisive and even more growing importance of naval power and sea connections in our time. Sergey Gorshkov rejected an earlier orientation of Soviet naval war theory from the interwar period onwards, which meant that the navy was reduced to only a support for the army. The focus had been on defensive tasks in the form of art defence (including invasion defence) and operations in domestic waters with a corresponding emphasis on the composition of the fleet of coastal defence vessels. Sergey Gorshkov argued instead in favour of the need to focus on an offensive-oriented fleet, capable of being deployed on the central North Atlantic routes, whose ever-growing importance he emphasized [8, s. 229-232].

This is evident from his general reasoning on the importance of geography as well as his emphasis on the fact that NATO has created several bases for naval and air forces along the Soviet naval borders. And this especially in the Baltic Area and the Atlantic Ocean. USSR had to take up the fight against NATO and its allies in other areas than on the European-Asian continent. Sergey Gorshkov's theories oppose the notions traditionally maintained by the General Staff of the primacy of the army and ground warfare and constitute a clear attack on them. The Navy thus challenged the General Staff. It was important that it could win allies, among other things in the newly formed military pact of the Warsaw Pact and in the similarly newly founded East German military power.

The Warsaw Pact and the maritime strategy

The basis is a large, new source material from the archives of the two Danish intelligence services, and as something completely new, from the archives of the Polish, East German and Soviet intelligence services. Among the many new source finds can be highlighted:

a) A very large Polish and East German material, which shows all phases of the military intelligence effort - from planning over execution to the finished result in the form of e.g. detailed descriptions of ports and landing sites.

b) Several thousand pages of material about the Polish intelligence service’s long-standing penetration of the Danish embassy in Warsaw with document photography and telephone tapping (which, however, the Danish side was to some extent either familiar with or reckoned with and had taken measures against).

 c) A material several hundred pages long, which in words and pictures describes the dead post offices and contact points of the Polish intelligence service all over Denmark, as well as in some cases buried depots.

d) 300 documents from PET’s (Danish Security and Intelligence Service) archive, which are used in the report. Among them is PET’s Stasi case, which provides a picture of the activities of Danish Stasi agents, to which the well-known Lenz case belongs [11, s. 551-554].

During the Cold War, both the Warsaw Pact’s maritime landings in Denmark and NATO’s use of the Jutland peninsula’s ports to receive reinforcements required that they had fought for and been able to maintain robust air superiority over the entire region in crucial phases of the operation in question. The same would apply to western sea landings on the East German, Polish and Baltic coasts. The possibility of aircraft-laying of naval mines and the firing of target missiles from aircraft expanded the area and the period during which air superiority was to be effective. The many primary and secondary air bases in the vast coastal area of ​​the Warsaw Pact provided the Soviet Union with a good starting point for its operations, both offensive and defensive. A large part of the western air stations in the BALTAP (Allied Forces Baltic Approaches) area were vulnerable, close to the inner German border. Basically, it would be practically impossible for the West to carry out landing operations or other offensive maritime operations on the surface of the Baltic Sea before, at least, the Polish coastal area with its air bases had come into NATO hands.

Until the mid-1980s, the air military situation was critical for NATO forces in Baltic area. The number of western aircraft in Denmark-Schleswig-Holstein was reduced in the 1960s, when arms aid to Denmark ceased. In the East, the number of aircraft was maintained, in Poland and the GDR as in Denmark with a slow pace of modernization. A clear aircraft-by-aircraft quality difference first manifested itself with the arrival of the F-16 in the 1980s and with the German Tornado aircraft in the Navy Air Force. However, as the new Danish fighter jets lacked modern weapons for the first many years, even this advantage was limited. Only if the Soviet Union accepted and waited for the airfields on the peninsula to fill up with the large amount of possible reinforcement aircraft from the U.S. within a few weeks. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps, it would be realistic to conduct a protracted battle for air superiority that could lead to Western success. But since such Soviet patience during NATO’s mobilization, reinforcement and preparation would be tantamount to abandoning operational victory, it was hardly a likely course of action. However, air superiority over the sea was only a necessary, not a sufficient, precondition for implementing successful sea landings at one end or the other of the Baltic Sea [7, s. 82].

Andrey Grechko, a Soviet marshal in the Red Army and commander-in-chief of the forces in the Warsaw Pact from 1960 until 1967, was a close ally to Sergey Gorshkov. It was also well known in the inner NATO-circles that Andrey Grechko was one of the most radical and vocal advocates of a course of confrontation with the United States. He used the mandate given to the Warsaw Pact by the commander-in-chief to lead the operational training and exercise activities immediately and purposefully. The maritime Strategy played here an important role like did the nuclear weapons as assault and deterrence weapons. Over the course of a few decades, the Russian navy was almost on a par with the navy of the NATO allies. It was to a large extent also Andrey Grechko’s merit. The Soviet Navy was divided into four Fleets: the North Fleet (main naval port Murmansk), the Pacific or Far Eastern Fleet (main naval port Vladivostok), the Black Sea Fleet (main naval port Sevastopol in Crimea) and the Baltic Fleet (main naval port Baltiysk). Of these, the latter was the most important, partly due to its proximity to central parts of the Soviet Union.

The Baltic Fleet was expanded and modernized in the 1950s. At the same time, its position was threatened by the new offensive strategy and competition intensified with the base in Kola Peninsula, which had direct access to the Atlantic sea routes that now came to the centre of attention. The position of the Baltic Navy in the new offensive strategy was also threatened by the BRD’s rearmament and formation of NATO’s Baltic Command, BALTAP, in December 1961. Furthermore, the Baltic Navy’s strategic location in the ice-free port of Baltiysk near Kaliningrad was of great importance for the further development of the Soviet Baltic Sea Fleet in the greater military strategic plans of the Warsaw Pact countries. In that situation, there seems to have been a common interest between Sergey Gorshkov, the Soviet Baltic Fleet and the Warsaw Pact Command. In connection with its exercise activities, joint exercises were organized during the 1960s and 1970s for the Soviet, Polish and East German fleets. Yes, to such an extent that together they were described as the united Baltic Sea Fleet.

Denmark and its security policy in NATO from the 1960s and onwards

The eastern influence and intelligence efforts in Denmark were extensive but led to only very limited results. However, three aspects of this topic are interesting, largely based on new or overlooked source material. It is, firstly, the open, already known side of propaganda. Secondly, it is the Eastern countries’ apparatus and plans for this work, including their contacts with Danish parties and movements. Thirdly, it is the reactions of the Danish authorities, especially the intelligence services, and the Danish public to the advocacy efforts. The conclusion is that the Eastern influence effort had a very modest effect on the Danes’ general image of the Eastern political systems, society and foreign policy. On the other hand, the effort can hardly be denied a certain effect on the content of the agenda, especially for the security policy debate in Denmark. To a large extent, however, the themes and dynamics of this debate were determined by broader international trends and by developments and currents of ideas internally in Western societies [1, s. 212-213; 11, s. 600-603; 12, s. 210-211].

A fairly widespread view in Danish opinion, especially in the second half of the Cold War, was that the conflict between East and West primarily constituted a systemic threat (“the weapons and the politics behind them are dangerous in themselves”) and secondarily a player threat (“the Russians are dangerous”). This attitude was not determined by sympathy for the Eastern systems, but focused predominantly on the political and military dangers, which in this view were considered to emanate from the military part of the systemic conflict in particular from the intrinsic dynamics of military strategies and the arms race [1, s. 216].

A picture is drawn here of a comprehensive and systematic collection of intelligence from Denmark. In particular, the intelligence officers of the Soviet and Polish representations were very active throughout the period, in the military field, especially through field reconnaissance. The East Germans worked more with agents, the so-called illegals. Among the agents for the East German intelligence service were also Danish citizens, according to Stasi’s foreign intelligence service HVA's own statements, a total of approximately 26 in the period from 1972 to 1988. Despite the significant activity in the field of intelligence, there are in contrast to e.g. Federal Republic, not identified ‘top spies’ in this country. No significant infiltration of the defence or administration in Denmark has been demonstrated in addition to the few already known cases [14, s. 217-222].

First, the report should have made it very clear that the operations in the Danish-Schleswig-Holstein area, seen from the Soviet General Staff, were secondary to the campaign-decisive battle in the rest of West Germany. If necessary, the situation to the north could await the settlement on the Central Front. However, if there were enough secondary, e.g. Polish, forces available, they could be used for an earlier deployment. Such was the plan until around 1980 it was concluded that the attack on West Germany had to be started so early that one could not wait for the Poles' advance deployment. The benefits that could be gained from an early invasion of Zealand were welcome, but not decisive. The most important part of BALTAP was the Jutland peninsula due to its ports and especially the significant number of air military bases and installations [14, s. 37].

During the Cold War, both the Warsaw Pact’s maritime landings in Denmark and NATO’s use of the Jutland peninsula’s ports to receive reinforcements required that they had fought for and been able to maintain robust air superiority over the entire region in crucial phases of the operation in question. The same would apply to western sea landings on the East German, Polish and Baltic coasts. The possibility of aircraft deployment of naval mines and the firing of anti-aircraft missiles from aircraft expanded the area and the period during which air superiority was to be effective. The many primary and secondary air bases in the vast coastal area of ​​the Warsaw Pact provided the Soviet Union with a good starting point for its operations, both offensive and defensive. A large part of the Western air stations in the BALTAP area were vulnerable, close to the Inner German Border. Basically, it would be practically impossible for the West to carry out landing operations or other offensive maritime operations on the surface of the Baltic Sea before, at least, the Polish coastal area with its air bases had come into NATO hands. Until the mid-1980s, the air military situation was critical for NATO forces in our area. The number of Western aircraft in Denmark-Schleswig-Holstein was reduced in the 1960s, when arms aid to Denmark ceased. In the East, the number of aircraft was maintained, in Poland and the GDR as in Denmark at a slow pace of modernization. A clear aircraft-by-aircraft quality difference first manifested itself with the arrival of the F-16 in the 1980s and with the German Tornado aircraft in the Navy Air Force. However, as the new Danish fighter jets lacked modern weapons for the first many years, even this advantage was limited. Only if the Soviet Union accepted and waited for the airfields on the peninsula to fill up with the large amount of possible reinforcement aircraft from the U.S. within a few weeks. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps, it would be realistic to conduct a protracted battle for air superiority that could lead to Western success. But since such Soviet patience during NATO’s mobilization, reinforcement and preparation would be tantamount to abandoning operational victory, it was hardly a likely course of action. However, air superiority over the sea was only a necessary, not a sufficient, precondition for implementing successful sea landings at one end or the other of the Baltic Sea [11, s. 625-626].

Due to its air stations and ports, the Jutland peninsula was not only decisive for the situation in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, but also had an impact on the situation in northern Germany south of the Elbe. Throughout the period, however, there were very great problems in carrying out an effective defence of the peninsula against an eastern attack over land of the type planned within the framework of the Coastal Front with first Polish and later probably with East German forces in the first operational echelon.

First, one must understand that an army unit deployed in defence is tied to the terrain being defended. It cannot be used elsewhere at the same time. It is thus the attacker who decides how much of the defender's front units will influence the match. The “thinner” of the defence is the smaller part, because no forces can be “saved” as tactical or operational reserves. In Holstein between the Baltic Sea and the Elbe, two divisions were to cover a front of more than 50 kilometres of offensive terrain with defence. It became a very “thin” occupation, even after Denmark in the 1970s chose to make all three Jutland brigades available to the Jutland Division. It could be expected that only one of Jyske Division's two front-line brigades would be deployed in the northern coastal front army's breakthrough room. Since the Allied Land Forces Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland (LANDJUT), the authority responsible for defence, in addition to covering the terrain with defence, also had to give this defence depth. An at the same time ensure that the Kiel Canal was not captured by air landings behind the front forces, the task required about double the 6 brigades reached in the 1970s.

LANDJUT could only reach this strength at the end of the 1980s, and only if the Soviet Union allowed NATO a few months’ preparation time. That time was at least necessary if the American 9th Division from Seattle on the American Pacific coast were to reach the Jutland peninsula. The situation had also improved slightly in the 1980s with European resources. Germany had created a fourth “local defence brigade” for the 6th Division. Denmark had established “Jyske Kampgruppe” in the mobilization force, a weak infantry brigade to solve limited tasks on the peninsula. It was possible that the defence would be reinforced with a British infantry brigade. All presupposed that the Soviet Union did not interpret mobilization and advance deployment in NATO as war preparations and attacks early on in order to preserve the possibility of operational victory.

Second, the ability of an army unit to defend terrain depends on the number of long-range weapons and the ability to move the weapons under armour protection. While the 6th Panzer Grenadier Division was well-equipped, only 60% of Jyske Division’s units in armoured vehicles, and only just over 33%, were equipped to be able to fight moving, under protection. The possibility that Jyske Division could defend with effect at all was thus that they arrived in good time, so that they could prepare for the deployment with extensive fields of landmines and well-developed field fortifications. This was necessary for the units to survive despite the massive conventional artillery capacity that the East built up in the 1970s. The necessary extensive defence work took a long time, and they could only begin when German authorities overcame their hesitation and authorized the work. Jyske Division's mobilization, relocation to Holstein and the establishment of robust primary and secondary positions would realistically take two weeks, where you would have peace of mind and a series of timely decisions.

Third, the division was only poorly trained and the cooperation week. Of its units, from 1973 only 50% were completely lined up in the peacekeeping force, the rest had to be mobilized. Even the training of the peacekeeping units was negatively affected by working time and resource constraints and by the fact that, under the impression of optimism, the preparedness had already been drastically lowered as early as the 1960s and thus the personnel's expectation of war in a short time. Most of the personnel to be mobilized came from various conscription teams and had only received the 9 months of conscription training which the Army rightly considered inadequate. If the division after mobilization, relocation and burial should be made ready for something other than as a Potemkin backdrop to deter attacks on its positions as part of the alliance’s crisis management, it should be given the opportunity to complete a few weeks of intensive and resource-intensive, realistic collaborative training, i.e. using all types of sharp ammunition.

Fourth, the material condition of the units was critically poor in the period up to the mid-1980s, when a modernization was initiated. Fifth, LANDJUT had the problem that the southern part of the corps front, i.e. the strongest 6th German division main force, had to be expected to be hit by the army from the Coastal Front, which attacked to the west, in the direction of the North German North Sea ports and the Netherlands. That means the two parts of the corps would be pushed apart, leaving the defence of the peninsula to the Jutland Division, which itself was fiercely engaged and which had no realistic possibility of establishing a cover of the peninsula alone. Regardless of whether it was only relatively weak and limited equipped Polish or East German forces carrying out the attack. It was probably realistic to expect that the operational part of the German and Danish submarines be in place and safe in the “diving fields” east and west of Bornholm. But it was an open question how many landing and transport ships they would be able to sink in convoys sailing along and close to the shallow Polish and East German coasts [7, s. 65-66].

GDR, its navy and the military discourse

The East German army was formed relatively late in the Cold War. Not until the early 1960s, both army and navy began to take shape. In 1955, when the Warsaw Pact was established, an East German army and navy began to be structured. It is assumed, however, that its forces, as they have been organized in their majority, would be added to the joint Warsaw Pact forces. Just as the Warsaw Pact forces both temporarily and even permanently could be stationed on East German soil. Something that at times had to be digested in the countries of the Warsaw Pact, that there were permanently Soviet forces strategically important places in the countries.

The GDR’s political leadership was kept informed on an on-going basis about both the Warsaw Pact exercises and the exercises they themselves were to organize. However, it consistently contented itself with signing its approval, without remarks. The political leadership was thus aware of the thoughts and plans that were going through the minds of both the Warsaw Pact and its own military, without this apparently leading to any objections or protests. However, it does not have to be just a matter of a forced and passive act. The role given to the GDR and its military is not necessarily opposed but may just as well have been in line with East German both military and political interests. As the newest and most inexperienced army, both the GDR’s political and military leadership had to fight hard to gain recognition both in the Warsaw Pact and in the Soviet military leadership [7, s. 58].

The establishment of the GDR in 1949, which took place only after the formation of a West German government, was marked by clear interest from East German but with great hesitation on the part of the Soviets. The same seems to have applied to the rearmament of the GDR. In matters concerning the Cold War, the GDR consistently took a more radical and more confrontational stance than the Soviet Union’s political leadership. In this way, the GDR’s position depended on the changing policies of the Soviet Union, not only towards the United States but also and especially towards the BRD, where different attitudes on the Soviet side also crystallized. GDR consistently chose a hard-Marxist line. This led to clashes between Moscow and East Berlin in 1964, in the autumn of 1966 and in the spring of 1971. On the East German side, the Minister of Defence, General Heinz Hoffmann (1910-1985), distinguished himself by attacking West Germany particularly fiercely and warning the world of a threat from its side. Well supported by hardliner the First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Walter Ulbricht. Also, during the new First Secretary Erich Honecker, General Heinz Hoffmann put an implacable line against BRD.

The GDR’s forces were given an important role in the Warsaw Pact exercises. They would take a large part of the first blow in a war. According to the exercises, the East German forces would be used in a very early attack route against Schleswig Holstein. With the aim of, among other things, defeating existing NATO forces in northern Germany and securing a bridgehead over the North Baltic Channel in order to create conditions for a continued attack north, towards Jutland and further west. In general, GDR took a particularly important observation post and an advanced military position against Denmark.

The East German navy also had a special experience based on the unique and from a purely military point of view the invasion of Denmark and Norway from a purely military point of view on 9 April 1940. The navy was the smallest branch of the East German army, in the 1970s, about 13,000 men in peacetime. In wartimes, the navy could count on a staff of about 30,000 men. The navy ships were not all the standard of NATOs fleet. The smallness of GDR’s fleet, the East German Admiral and later the chief of the navy, Theodor Hoffmann, later described in a way that the Minister of Defence was exclusively in the hands of the East German army. Theodor Hoffmann headed, furthermore, for the wishes of both the Warsaw Pact Command and the Soviet fleet led by Sergey Gorshkov, regarding the construction of a special navy following the Soviet marine strategy model [7, s. 72].

But actual Soviet documents for detailed attacks on Danish ports or military purposes do not exist. Instead, there are descriptions of how the East German fleet should have been prepared for a possible Warsaw Pact attack on NATO countries in the Baltic Sea area. The East German fleet was supposed to take part in a joint landing of the combined fleet of the Warsaw Pact to occupy the islands of the Belt and in the Danish Belts and technically and military support to especially the Soviet navy and army. Maps from the exercise show that Køge and Faxe Bay on Zealand was intended as a goal for the sea landing in Denmark. On separate maps and from Eastern German classified documents about navy exercises in Danish territory, further invasion plans of GDR’s fleet can be seen. It can thus be stated that the East German navy and army command not only within the framework of the Warsaw Pact but also on its own initiative has diligently practiced on its own invasion of Denmark or on more advanced forms, which have been submitted, to the Soviet and Warsaw Pact army command to a greater extent [7, s. 70-71].

Conclusion

From the available material, it has not been possible to demonstrate that the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact intended to launch an unprovoked attack on the West, nor is it considered likely. On the contrary, they generally had a rather cautious policy towards the West. Despite so many plans and war games, the thinking in the Warsaw Pact was to react to a possible Western attack, and then to conquer the initiative in offensive operations as soon as possible. As far as the eastern use of nuclear weapons is, concerned, large-scale weapons against Danish targets were still being considered in the 1960s. Most recently from the early 1970s, the picture changed, and now the precondition for Eastern use was that NATO forces had first used a-weapons or decided to do so.

In the eastern military planning, as early as 1950, one encounters Denmark in Polish military exercises, i.e. at a time when there was hardly any capacity to carry out such an operation. Polish exercises in the period up to 1955 were based on a premise of large-scale Western (especially British and American) operations against Poland based on Danish and especially Swedish ports and airports. From approximately in 1961, the Soviet Union adopted a clear offensive military strategy against Western Europe, where Denmark was to be conquered in 14 days, and the eastern fleets penetrated through the Danish waters into the North Sea. The main task of the conquest of Denmark fell, to a certain extent at his own request, Poland. This division of tasks was apparently maintained until 1987, when the Warsaw Pact adopted a defensive defence doctrine.

The Warsaw Pact was probably strongest militarily around 1975, but as early as 1976, the Eastern military intelligence services at the Warsaw Pact summits expressed great concern over the initial modernization of the West’s defence, and from this point on, the Eastern services presented an increasingly darker picture of the Western capability and intentions. From 1981, the notion of a US nuclear attack occupied a prominent place in the consciousness of the Soviet leadership. This, together with the intensification of American psychological warfare, led the Soviet leadership from 1981 to launch increasingly comprehensive contingency measures, especially in connection with the Western military exercises. Under the impression of the gradual change in the balance of power in favour of the West, which i.e. manifested in increased Western naval and aircraft activities in the Baltic Sea, the Soviet General Staff in the first half of the 1980s changed the offensive Eastern military strategy towards greater emphasis on Eastern defence combat. This also applied in the naval area, where the East Germans already in 1980 gave up conducting a landing operation in Denmark.

 

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Data about the author:

Christensen Carsten Sander – Doctor of History (PhD), curator of Billund Museum (Billund, Denmark).

Сведения об авторе:

Христенсен Карстен Сандер – доктор истории (PhD), куратор Музея Биллунда (Биллунд, Дания).

E-mail: csc@billund.dk.