During the Cold War and after, controversy raged over whether Stalin aimed for a Germany united under communism, a democratic but neutral Germany, or a separate Communist state in the east [134: 26]. Wettig, Raack and Spilker have argued that he countenanced a united Germany only if it was to be controlled by the Communists and their allies [223; 180: 128, 141; 201]. Conversely, the German historian, Wilfried Loth, has claimed that Stalin was prepared to accept a ‘bourgeois—democratic’ Germany, so long as it was neutral [127; 128]. Most historians now agree that the dictator never originally set out to transform the Soviet Occupation Zone into a separate Socialist republic. According to Naimark, the Soviets did not even pursue a single or clearly defined goal [154: 466]. Ross concurs, observing that ‘the picture of Soviet policy that emerges is one of improvisations and contradictions, especially on the part of Stalin himself, whose single most consistent desire was to keep his options open and not commit himself any earlier than absolutely necessary to either a separate Socialist Germany or a unified neutral Germany’ [190: 161–2]. Indeed, if one surveys Stalin’s policies in the late 1940s and 1950s, they do — on the face of it — seem inconsistent.
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