Books Monographs

Assessing the Soviet Threat: The Early Cold War Years, 1946–50

The Early Cold War Years as Seen Through Intelligence Reporting

Introduction

This 466 page document relates, through an introductory essay and 208 declassified analytical intelligence reports of the Current Intelligence Group and CIA, the development of the Cold War from 1946 through November 1950—after People’s Republic of China armed forces entered the war in Korea in force.

Readers may explore this document in two ways.

  • Readers who wish to explore the document in discrete sections are welcome to continue reading this posting, which will contain links to five sections of the book: the introductory material and four PDFs containing the reports in chronological order.
  • Those who wish to dive immediately into its 466 pages (and 15 MBs may download the complete document as it was originally created in 1997.

Foreword

The documents in this volume were produced by the analytical arm of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its predecessor, the Central Intelligence Group (CIG), between the latter’s founding in 1946 and the end of 1950. During this formative period of the Cold War, President Harry S. Truman struggled to understand the menacing behavior of the Soviet Union and his erstwhile ally, Joseph Stalin.

The analysts of CIG/CIA contributed to this process by providing the President with daily, weekly, and monthly summaries and interpretations of the most significant world events. They also provided ad hoc papers that analyzed specific issues of interest to the administration. Because more than 450 National Intelligence Estimates dealing with the Soviet Union and international Communism have been declassified since 1993, this volume features the current intelligence that went to the President in the Daily and Weekly Summaries.

Although some of this material has been available to scholars at the Harry S. Truman Library or has been previously released through the Freedom of Information Act, much of it is being made public for the first time [in 1997]. Taken as a whole, this volume provides the first comprehensive survey of CIA’s early analysis of the Soviet threat.

President Truman’s directive establishing CIG on 22 January 1946 created the first civilian, centralized, nondepartmental intelligence agency in American history. His purpose was to end the separate cabinet departments’ monopoly over intelligence information, a longstanding phenomenon that he believed had contributed to Japan’s ability to launch the surprise attack against Pearl Harbor. As he stated in his memoir, “In those days the military did not know everything the State Department knew, and the diplomats did not have access to all the Army and Navy knew.”

Truman also was irked because reports came across his desk “on the same subject at different times from the various departments, and these reports often conflicted.” He intended that CIA, when it replaced CIG in September 1947, also would address these concerns.

This volume focuses on the difficult yet important task of intelligence analysis. Although less glamorous to observers than either espionage or covert action, it is the process of analysis that provides the key end product to the policymaker: “finished” intelligence that can help the US Government craft effective foreign and security policies. During World War II, American academics and experts in the Office of Strategic Services had virtually invented the discipline of intelligence analysis–one of America’s few unique contributions to the craft of intelligence. Although it was not a direct descendent of the Research and Analysis branch of OSS, CIA’s Office of Reports and Estimates built upon this legacy in difficult circumstances.

The analysis reaching policymakers in these first years of the Cold War touched on momentous events and trends. Whether the Cold War was the result of a clash of irreconcilable national interests or of a spiraling series of misperceptions, an examination of the current intelligence provided to President Truman during this period–sometimes right, sometimes misleading–opens a fascinating window on what the President was told as he made his decisions.

Equally interesting is the portrait of the analysts, their problems, and the impact on their work of the bureaucratic process, as presented by the editor of this volume, staff historian Woodrow J. Kuhns.

Dr. Kuhns makes clear that the lot of the analysts was a difficult one in these early years. Many had been dumped on CIG by other departments that no longer required their services. They were subjected to frequent reshuffling and other forms of bureaucratic turmoil, and they operated under severe time pressure and sometimes with little information at their disposal. CIA’s first analysts are not to be envied.

We have ended this study in 1950 because by then the lines on both sides of the Cold War had been firmly drawn. US leaders had reached their conclusions about Soviet intentions; had formed their opinions about Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and other revolutionaries; and had formulated their policy of containment in NSC 68.

In addition, a new Director of Central Intelligence, Walter Bedell Smith, implemented a sweeping reorganization of the Agency’s analytical arm in late 1950, breaking the Office of Reports and Estimates into three smaller but more clearly focused offices.

The CIA thus entered a new phase of the Cold War with revitalized analytical capabilities in a new Directorate of Intelligence that embodied President Truman’s intention to ensure that the US Government was provided with nondepartmental intelligence based on all available sources.*

Michael Warner
Acting Chief, CIA History Staff
Center for the Study of Intelligence, 1997

*Please note, the PDF is of a legacy document. As a result the list of documents provides no links to individual documents as promised in the heading.  The links that follow the link immediately below provides access to the 208 documents in four dated sections.

Date and contents of documents 1 through 45

1. Weekly Summary, 14 June 1946-The Azerbaijan Settlement

2. Weekly Summary, 5 July 1946-Political Tension in Bulgaria

3. Weekly Summary, 19 July 1946-Implications of Soviet Policy Towards Germany; Soviet Demands on Hungary

4. ORE 1, 23 July 1946-Soviet Foreign and Military Policy

5. Weekly Summary, 2 August 1946-Soviet Propaganda Increases Attacks on US; Soviet Aims in Supporting German Unity; Hungary’s Coalition Under Increasing Tension

6. Weekly Summary, 16 August 1946-Soviet Proposal for Revision of Straits Convention; Bulgarian Government Prepares for Elections

7. Weekly Summary, 23 August 1946-Soviet Military Policy in Eastern Europe

8. Special Study No. 3, 24 August 1946-Current Soviet Intentions

9. Weekly Summary, 30 August 1946-Soviet Internal Problems

10. Weekly Summary, 20 September 1946-Effect of Demobilization on Soviet Military Potential; Effects of Soviet Propaganda

11. Weekly Summary, 25 October 1946-Significance of Personnel Changes in Soviet Hierarchy; Communist Setback in Hungary

12. ORE 3/1, 31 October 1946-Soviet Capabilities for the Development and Production of Certain Types of Weapons and Equipment

13. Weekly Summary, 8 November 1946-Communist Pre-Electoral Tactics in Rumania

14. Weekly Summary, 13 December 1946-Communist Maneuvers in Hungary

15. Weekly Summary, 20 December 1946-The Soviet Outlook in Iran; Soviets Reverse Their Tactics in Austria

16. Weekly Summary, 3 January 1947-The Polish Election; Possible Reopening of the Straits Question

17. Weekly Summary, 10 January 1947-Prospects in Indochina

18. Weekly Summary, 17 January 1947-Communist-Instigated Purge in Hungary

19. Weekly Summary, 28 February 1947-The Greek Crisis

20. Weekly Summary, 7 March 1947-Significant Personnel Changes in Soviet Government; Anti-Communist Trends in Czechoslovakia

21. Weekly Summary, 14 March 1947-Prospects for Vietnam Settlement

22. Weekly Summary, 21 March 1947-Reaction to President Truman’s Speech; Turkey Weighs its Defense Requirements

23. Weekly Summary, 2 May 1947-Soviet Strategy in the CFM

24. Weekly Summary, 9 May 1947-Indications of Changed Emphasis in Communist Strategy

25. Weekly Summary, 20 June 1947-Apparent Soviet Plans in Eastern Europe; Further Communist Moves in Hungary

26. Daily Summary, 30 June 1947-USSR: Soviet Plans for Exploiting US Aid Program

27. Weekly Summary, 11 July 1947-Soviet Opposition to the Recovery Program; Effects of Non-Participation on the Satellites

28. Daily Summary, 18 July 1947-USSR: Soviet Reaction to Marshall Proposals

29. Weekly Summary, 25 July 1947-Strategy of Soviet Delay in Treaty Ratification

30. Daily Summary, 2 August 1947-Germany: Creation of a German Government in the Soviet Zone

31. Weekly Summary, 15 August 1947-The Military and Political Chain of Command in Communist Greece

32. Weekly Summary, 29 August 1947-Soviet Intentions in Austria

33. Daily Summary, 5 September 1947-Greece: Rumor of All-Out Attack From North Discounted

34. Weekly Summary, 5 September 1947-Soviet Efforts to Strengthen Position in Germany

35. Weekly Summary, 12 September 1947-Italian Communist Intentions

36. Daily Summary, 20 September 1947-France: Communists Plan Mass Action

37. Review of the World Situation, 26 September 1947-Summary

38. Daily Summary, 3 October 1947-Iran: Soviet Troop Concentrations Reported on Border

39. Weekly Summary, 3 October 1947-Eastern Europe

40. Special Evaluation No. 21, 13 October 1947-Implications of the New Communist Information Bureau

41. Weekly Summary, 24 October 1947-Prospects for French Success in Indochinese Campaign

42. Daily Summary, 29 October 1947-Reported Soviet-Inspired Military Operations in Greece

43. Weekly Summary, 7 November 1947-Soviet Preparations to Gain Control in Greece

44. Daily Summary, 19 November 1947-Germany: Soviet State in Eastern Zone Reported Fully Prepared

45. Weekly Summary, 21 November 1947-The London CFM Conference

Date and contents of documents 46 through 112

46. Daily Summary, 1 December 1947-Reported Communist Drive to Seize Power in France and Italy

47. Weekly Summary, 2 December 1947-Results of Communist Strikes in France

48. Daily Summary, 4 December 1947-France: Communists Increasing Violent Action

49. Weekly Summary, 5 December 1947-A Revival of Soviet Designs on Iranian Azerbaijan

50. Daily Summary, 9 December 1947-Korea: Future Soviet Tactics in Korea

51. Daily Summary, 13 December 1947-De Gasperi Fears Communist Insurrectionary Action

52. Weekly Summary, 19 December 1947-Prospects for Additional Cominforms

53. Daily Summary, 23 December 1947-Czechoslovakia: Communist Drive Expected in January

54. Weekly Summary, 30 December 1947-Prospects for Communist Action in Italy

55. Weekly Summary, 9 January 1948-Growing Soviet Interest in China

56. Daily Summary, 14 January 1948-France: Alleged Communist Plan for Military Activities

57. Weekly Summary, 30 January 1948-Soviet Policy in Eastern Europe

58. Daily Summary, 13 February 1948-Possible Soviet Plans for Poland

59. Daily Summary, 19 February 1948-Czechoslovakia: Communists May Precipitate Crisis

60. Weekly Summary, 20 February 1948-Soviet Expansionism in Korea

61. Daily Summary, 24 February 1948-Czechoslovakia: Estimate of Political Crisis

62. Weekly Summary, 27 February 1948-Communist Coup in Czechoslovakia; Communist Military and Political Outlook in Manchuria

63. Daily Summary, 4 March 1948-USSR: Possible Kremlin Disagreement on Tactics

64. Daily Summary, 16 March 1948-Czechoslovaks Believe USSR Willing to Risk War

65. Intelligence Memorandum 13, 16 March 1948-Soviet Pressure on Berlin

66. Intelligence Memorandum 18, 16 March 1948-Effect of Reinstating the Draft

67. Daily Summary, 17 March 1948-Turks Fear War May Be Imminent

68. Daily Summary, 27 March 1948-USSR May Close Eastern Zone Border

69. ORE 22-48, 2 April 1948-Possibility of Direct Soviet Military Action During 1948

70. Weekly Summary, 9 April 1948-Soviet Walkout From Allied Control Council; Diminished Communist Capabilities in Italy

71. Daily Summary, 12 April 1948-Colombia: Continuation of Bogota Conference Favored

72. Weekly Summary, 23 April 1948-New Soviet Attitude Toward Austrian Treaty; Prospective Communist Strategy Following the Italian Elections

73. Daily Summary, 24 April 1948-Reported Soviet Plans for Eastern German Regime

74. ORE 29-48, 28 April 1948-Possible Program of Future Soviet Moves in Germany

75. Weekly Summary, 30 April 1948-Deadlock Over Transport Problems in Berlin

76. Daily Summary, 7 May 1948-Germany: Soviet Attempt to Interrupt US Air Traffic

77. Weekly Summary, 14 May 1948-Formation of a Jewish State in Palestine; French Officials Attempting to Negotiate Settlement of French Vietnam Dispute

78. Weekly Summary, 18 June 1948-The Soviet Withdrawal From the Berlin Kommandatura

79. Daily Summary, 21 June 1948-Yugoslavia: Challenge to Kremlin Authority

80. Daily Summary, 24 June 1948-Implications of Soviet-Satellite Conference; Germany: Soviet Solution for Berlin Problems Suggested

81. Intelligence Memorandum 36, 24 June 1948-Probable Purpose of the Warsaw Conference

82. Daily Summary, 25 June 1948-Germany: French View on Berlin Crisis; Palestine: Jewish Extremists Increasingly Active

83. Weekly Summary, 25 June 1948-Soviet Desire to Reopen Quadripartite Negotiations on Germany

84. Daily Summary, 30 June 1948-Implications of Possible Approach to West by Tito; Germany: Alleged Plans for East German Government

85. Weekly Summary, 2 July 1948-Berlin Blockade; Intensified Communist Activity in Italy; Yugoslavia’s Defiance of the Kremlin’s Authority

86. Weekly Summary, 9 July 1948-Eastern Europe: Yugoslavia

87. Weekly Summary, 16 July 1948-International Communism; Establishment of Competing Regimes in Korea

88. Daily Summary, 17 July 1948-USSR: Reasons for Soviet Replies on Berlin; China: Soviet Ambassador Urges End of Civil War

89. ORE 45-48, 22 July 1948-The Current Situation in China

90. Weekly Summary, 23 July 1948-Slackening Bulgarian Support for Greek Guerrillas

91. Daily Summary, 27 July 1948-Control of Berlin Believed Primary Soviet Objective

92. Weekly Summary, 30 July 1948-Rumors of Dissension in the Soviet Politburo

93. Weekly Summary, 6 August 1948-Germany: Far-Reaching Political and Economic Reorganization in the Soviet Zone

94. Weekly Summary, 3 September 1948-Soviet Union: The Death of Zhdanov

95. Weekly Summary, 10 September 1948-Poland: Recent Conflict Within the Communist Party

96. Daily Summary, 17 September 1948-China: Growing Nationalist Sentiment for Neutrality

97. ORE-60-48, 28 September 1948-Threats to the Security of the United States

98. Daily Summary, 2 October 1948-Possible Soviet Reversal on Palestine

99. Daily Summary, 4 October 1948-France: USSR May Finance French Coal Strike

100. Daily Summary, 9 October 1948-Germany: Preparations for Eastern German Government

101. Daily Summary, 11 October 1948-Possible Communist Strategy in Western Europe

102. Weekly Summary, 15 October 1948-The Communist-Inspired Strikes in France

103. Weekly Summary, 29 October 1948-UN: Soviet Veto on Berlin; Germany: Soviet Action in Eastern Germany

104. Weekly Summary, 29 October 1948-Prospects for Invasion of South Korea by the North

105. Weekly Summary, 5 November 1948-Soviet Union: Stalin Interview

106. Weekly Summary, 12 November 1948-China: Decisive Battle Beginning; Soviet Satellite Support of Clandestine Air Activity to Palestine

107. ORE 49-48, 18 November 1948-The Trend of Soviet-Yugoslav Relations

108. Weekly Summary, 19 November 1948-The Kremlin “Peace Offensive”

109. Intelligence Memorandum 76, 19 November 1948-Economic Trends in the USSR

110. Weekly Summary, 26 November 1948-France: Soviet Pressure; Communist Labor

111. Weekly Summary, 3 December 1948-The Berlin Dispute; Communist Policy in China

112. Weekly Summary, 17 December 1948-Soviet Union: Israeli Policy

Date and contents of documents 113 through 167

113. Weekly Summary, 29 December 1948-Soviet Union: Austrian Treaty

114. Weekly Summary, 14 January 1949-Eastern Europe: Communist Penetration; Soviet Intentions in Germany

115. Daily Summary, 18 January 1949-The Soviet Propaganda Shift

116. Intelligence Memorandum 124, 19 January 1949-Continuing Instability in Greece

117. Weekly Summary, 28 January 1949-Eastern Europe: Communist Dictatorships; Satellite Economy

118. Daily Summary, 4 February 1949-Moscow Meeting of Soviet-Satellite Military Leaders; Further Kremlin Overtures Predicted

119. Daily Summary, 11 February 1949-Evidence of Soviet Aid to Chinese Communists

120. Weekly Summary, 11 February 1949-Soviet Military Bloc

121. Weekly Summary, 18 February 1949-Soviet Plans for an East German State

122. Daily Summary, 24 February 1949-France: Implications of Communist Leader’s Statement

123. Daily Summary, 4 March 1949-France: Government Policy on Communist “Treason”

124. Weekly Summary, 4 March 1949-Soviet Propaganda Offensive

125. Weekly Summary, 11 March 1949-Germany: Berlin Currency; Soviet Union: Molotov-Mikoyan, Communist Militancy, Atlantic Pact; Yugoslavia: Greek Guerrillas

126. Daily Summary, 17 March 1949-Present Soviet Intentions in Iran

127. Weekly Summary, 18 March 1949-Molotov-Mikoyan Shift; Iran

128. Daily Summary, 4 April 1949-US Policy in Germany

129. Weekly Summary, 8 April 1949-Communist Deviation in Bulgaria

130. Weekly Summary, 22 April 1949-Soviet Tactics in Germany; Satellite Communist Purges

131. Weekly Summary, 29 April 1949-Soviet Propaganda on Gains in Far East; Soviet Union: Israeli Relations

132. ORE 46-49, 3 May 1949-The Possibility of Direct Soviet Military Action During 1949

133. Daily Summary, 6 May 1949-USSR Reportedly Planning Action Against Iran

134. Weekly Summary, 6 May 1949-Soviet Union: German Objectives

135. Daily Summary, 20 May 1949-Continued Soviet Restrictions on Berlin

136. Weekly Summary, 10 June 1949-French Military Plans in Indochina

137. ORE 45-49, 16 June 1949-Probable Developments in China

138. Weekly Summary, 17 June 1949-China: Soviet Orientation

139. Weekly Summary, 24 June 1949-The CFM Meeting; Eastern Europe: Purges

140. Intelligence Memorandum 202, 25 July 1949-Review of CIA Estimate ORE 60-48: Threats to the Security of the United States

141. Weekly Summary, 29 July 1949-Nationalism in the Satellites

142. Daily Summary, 22 August 1949-Soviet Military Move Against Tito Held Unlikely

143. Weekly Summary, 9 September 1949-Indochina: Ho’s Defiance

144. Weekly Summary, 23 September 1949-Eastern Europe: Communist Deviation; Hungary: Treason Trial

145. Weekly Summary, 30 September 1949-Soviet Union: Atomic Explosion

146. Daily Summary, 6 October 1949-Molotov Reported Handling Soviet Internal Problems

147. Weekly Summary, 7 October 1949-Germany: East Zone Government

148. Intelligence Memorandum 248, 7 November 1949-Satellite Relations With the USSR and the West

149. Weekly Summary, 10 November 1949-Soviet Union: Malenkov Speech

150. Daily Summary, 29 November 1949-Soviet Attack “Reported” for 1950

151. Daily Summary, 5 December 1949-Comments on Soviet Plans Against Tito

152. Weekly Summary, 9 December 1949-Palestine: Soviet Policy

153. Daily Summary, 14 December 1949-Estimate of Soviet Position in Europe

154. Daily Summary, 4 January 1950-Implications of Mao’s Prolonged Stay in Moscow

155. Weekly Summary, 13 January 1950-Far East: Soviet Relations; Korea: Troop Buildup

156. Daily Summary, 1 February 1950-Implications of Soviet Recognition of the Ho Regime in Indochina

157. Daily Summary, 3 February 1950-French Views on Indochina

158. Weekly Summary, 3 February 1950-UN: Soviet Walkout; Southeast Asia: Soviet Pressure

159. Weekly Summary, 10 February 1950-France: Indochina Policy

160. Weekly Summary, 17 February 1950-Sino-Soviet Pact

161. Daily Summary, 21 February 1950-Soviet Military Preparations in Austria; Increased Communist Pressure in Southeast Asia

162. Weekly Summary, 24 February 1950-China: Treaty With USSR

163. Weekly Summary, 17 March 1950-Indochina: Ho’s Orientation; Current Soviet Tactics in Germany

164. Weekly Summary, 31 March 1950-China: Military Plans

165. ORE 91-49, 6 April 1950-Estimate of the Effects of the Soviet Possession of the Atomic Bomb Upon the Security of the United States and Upon the Probabilities of Direct Soviet Military Action

166. Weekly Summary, 14 April 1950-Communism in Southeast Asia

167. Weekly Summary, 21 April 1950-China: Party Purge

Date and contents of documents 168 through 208

168. Weekly Summary, 28 April 1950-The Soviet Offensive

169. Weekly Summary, 5 May 1950-China: Military Plans

170. Daily Summary, 6 June 1950-Possible Kremlin Conference on Southeast Asia

171. Weekly Summary, 9 June 1950-Soviet Union: New SEA Policy

172. ORE 18-50, 19 June 1950-Current Capabilities of the Northern Korean Regime

173. Daily Summary, 26 June 1950-Embassy Moscow’s Views on Korean Conflict

174. Daily Summary, 27 June 1950-Soviet Troop Movement Toward Yugoslavia Reported

175. Daily Summary, 28 June 1950-No Soviet Military Preparations in Germany and Austria

176. Weekly Summary, 30 June 1950-The Korean Situation

177. Intelligence Memorandum 301, 30 June 1950-Estimate of Soviet Intentions and Capabilities for Military Aggression

178. Daily Summary, 6 July 1950-Views of Hong Kong Residents on Korean Problem

179. Daily Summary, 7 July 1950-Invaders’ Momentum Undiminished

180. Weekly Summary, 7 July 1950-The Korean Situation: Soviet Intentions and Capabilities

181. Intelligence Memorandum 302, 8 July 1950-Consequences of the Korean Incident

182. Intelligence Memorandum 304, 10 July 1950-Effects of a Voluntary Withdrawal of US Forces From Korea

183. Daily Summary, 12 July 1950-Possible Assault on Taiwan

184. Weekly Summary, 14 July 1950-Communist China’s Role

185. Special Evaluation No. 39, 27 July 1950-Possibility of Soviet Aggression Against Iran

186. Weekly Summary, 28 July 1950-Soviet/Satellite Intentions

187. Weekly Summary, 4 August 1950-Soviet Return to the UN

188. Weekly Summary, 1 September 1950-Far Eastern Struggle: Soviet Moves

189. Weekly Summary, 8 September 1950-North Korean Reserves

190. Intelligence Memorandum 324, 8 September 1950-Probability of Direct Chinese Communist Intervention in Korea

191. Weekly Summary, 15 September 1950-Soviet/Communist Activity

192. Weekly Summary, 22 September 1950-Korean Developments

193. Daily Summary, 30 September 1950-Possible Chinese Intervention in Korea

194. Daily Summary, 3 October 1950-Possible Chinese Communist Intervention in Korea

195. Weekly Summary, 6 October 1950-Korea and Soviet Policy; Chinese Communist Problems

196. Daily Summary, 9 October 1950-Chinese Communist Intervention in Korea Discounted

197. ORE 58-50, 12 October 1950-Critical Situations in the Far East

198. Weekly Summary, 13 October 1950-Korean Situation: Military Tactics

199. ORE 29-50, 13 October 1950-Consequences to the US of Communist Domination of Mainland Southeast Asia

200. Daily Summary, 16 October 1950-Possible Chinese Communist Intervention in Korea

201. Daily Summary, 20 October 1950-Chinese Communist Intervention in Korea

202. Daily Summary, 28 October 1950-Reports on Chinese Involvement in Korea

203. Daily Summary, 30 October 1950-POW Reports of Chinese Communist Forces in North Korea

204. Daily Summary, 31 October 1950-Chinese Communist Troops in Korea

205. Daily Summary, 2 November 1950-China: “Intervention” in Korea

206. Weekly Summary, 3 November 1950-Chinese Communist Plans: Korean Intervention

207. Weekly Summary, 10 November 1950-The Korean Situation: Chinese Intentions

208. Daily Summary, 17 November 1950-Chinese Communist Intentions at the UN, in North Korea

About the Editor

Dr. Woodrow J. Kuhns of the Central Intelligence Agency History Staff compiled this collection of documents and supporting material, and he wrote the Preface (in 1997). A graduate of Kuztown State College in Pennsylvania, Dr. Kuhns received his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Pennsylvania State University. Before joining the Center for the Study of Intelligence in 1996, he was an analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence at CIA. He also served for three years as CIA’s representative on the faculty of the Naval War College.