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Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 118: Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev regarding German Reunification, January 28, 1990

Traduction de Svetlana Savranskaya

Texte intégral

1This record from Chernyaev’s diary provides an illuminating portrait of internal Soviet deliberations about German unification. The Soviet general secretary calls together his closest foreign policy advisers, three of whom (Kryuchkov, Akhromeyev, and Falin) would subsequently blame Gorbachev for the “loss” of Germany. But here, all take solace in Helmut Kohl’s commitment to keeping the course of German unification within the larger all-European process. They seem to understand, already in late January, that “the process of German unification cannot be stopped. But we need to be present in this process, and see that it does not turn against us.” Yet Chernyaev is astonished that the top Central Committee expert on Germany, Rafail Fedorov (deputy head of the International Department), continues to claim “nobody wants unification, especially in the FRG!” At this meeting, the disagreement is only over whether to align with Kohl or with the opposition Social Democrats (the latter seeking to slow down the process); they all recognize, as KGB chief Kryuchkov remarks, that the GDR “is not a real state anymore.”


  • 1 Volynskoe-2 was another of the working dachas used to draft speeches and position papers. See footn (...)

2On Thursday, (January 25) M.S. called us to the CC from Volynskoe-21 (Yakovlev, Shakhnazarov, and myself) “to discuss the German problem.” When we arrived, Ryzhkov, Shevardnadze, Kryuchkov, Falin, Fedorov, and Akhromeyev were already in his office. We sat there for four hours. The conversation was very pointed. I suggested that we should orient ourselves more toward the FRG because we already had no base in the GDR to influence the course of events, and to bet on Kohl, not on the SPD, which is trying to turn unification into an electoral campaign issue.

3Kohl, on the other hand, still stands by the theory of unification as part of the all-European process, and besides he is constrained by the allies and is more personally loyal to his relationship with M.S. It is possible that he also understands that in his electoral game on the GDR he would lose to Brandt-Fogel. I am not opposed to inviting Modrow to Moscow, although it would not do us much good, and the question of his visit has already been decided. We should not invite Gizi: why would we stick to the part that practically does not exist? (The others did not agree with me on this).

4Later we should gather the “six:” the U.S., Britain, France, the USSR, plus Kohl and Modrow, i.e. the winners and the losers of the war. And we should come to an agreement […] because the process of German unification cannot be stopped. But we need to be present in this process, and see that it does not turn against us.

5Everybody agreed with the “six.” But they also argued that we needed to act through other channels too (Shakhnazarov [suggested] an SPD orientation, Yakovlev supported him). Shevardnadze in general supported me. Ryzhkov was against “giving everything to Kohl.” Kryuchkov, as always, was for everything that would be decided; however, he also said that the SED had ceased to exist, and all the state structures in the GDR have fallen apart. It is not a real state anymore.

6Ryzhkov said that the only obstacle to unification is the disjuncture of the economies. […]

7Fedorov argued that nobody wants unification, especially in the FRG! And this is the main [Central Committee] expert on Germany!!

8M.S. outlined five points for action. We are to orient ourselves toward:

  1. The FRG: Kohl, and the SPD.

  2. The “six.”

  3. Modrow and the SED (“it cannot be that among 2.5 million party members there is nobody to constitute a real force”).

  4. London, Paris—“maybe I should just fly here and there, take one day for each capital.”

  5. For Akhromeyev—prepare the withdrawal of troops from the GDR: “the problem is more internal than external. There are 300,000 troops, and among them 100,000 officers with families. We need to find a place for them!”

9[Source: Anatoly Chernyaev’s Diary, Manuscript. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Svetlana Savranskaya.]


1 Volynskoe-2 was another of the working dachas used to draft speeches and position papers. See footnote 17.

© Central European University Press, 2010

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