East Germany staged its biggest ever military parade along East Berlin's Karl Marx Allee to celebrate the country's thirtieth anniversary.
East Germany staged its biggest ever military parade along East Berlin's Karl Marx Allee to celebrate the country's thirtieth anniversary. Friday's (7 October) parade came only hours after visiting Soviet President, Leonid Brezhnev, announced substantial Soviet troop reductions in eastern Europe. But North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) leaders rejected Mr. Brezhnev's proposal for a bilateral reduction of medium range nuclear warheads. They said this would freeze the present arms balance in favour of the Warsaw Pact countries.
SYNOPSIS: The Western countries also criticised Brezhnev and the East German Government for allowing the parade to go ahead. According to the Berlin Treaty, signed after World War Two, no German troops are allowed on either side of the divided city. But this 45-minute parade was the biggest show of East German military strength Berlin has ever seen.
Among the East German leadership's guests: President Brezhnev, whose ministers the day before had concluded a long term economic and energy treaty with East Berlin. Also present was Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) Chairman, Yasser Arafat and the leaders of all Warsaw Pact countries--except Rumania's President Nicolai Ceaucescu. They and thousands of Berliners saluted the meticulous formations of jeeps, armoured cars, missile-launchers, heavy artillery and tanks -- the military might of the kremlin's closest ally.
Some of the hardware on show for the first time in East Germany included SP-152 self-propelled Howitzers and SAM-9 multiple rocket launchers. The East German armed forces number 160-thousand regular troops and 400-thousand reservists. But they are not included in President Brezhnev's force reduction programme. The Soviet leader plans to withdraw one thousand tanks and 20 thousand soldiers from East Germany over the next 12 months. He also urged the West to refrain from building up its own arms.
President Brezhnev's announcements were cautiously welcomed by some governments. But West German Chancellor, helmut Schmidt, called them a deliberate attempt to mislead world opinion.