194. Paper Prepared in the Department of State0
While officially labeled an “informal working visit”, the President’s trip to West Germany and Berlin will have many of the trappings of a state visit and can be expected to attract more public attention and interest than any previous visit by a foreign statesman to modern Germany—including probably even De Gaulle’s state visit of last September.
There are a number of reasons for this:
- The visit will be the first to Germany by President Kennedy since assuming office and only the third by a US President to postwar Germany. (President Truman was in Berlin in 1945 for the Potsdam Conference and President Eisenhower visited Bonn in 1959.)
- No American President has visited Berlin since 1945 when President Truman did so—under totally different circumstances—and no other non-German Chief of State from a NATO country has ever been in Berlin.
- The visit comes at a time of change and flux in Western Europe when the role and influence of the American President have acquired added significance in German eyes.
- The visit will be made against the backdrop of a scheduled further visit by De Gaulle to Germany in early July, following the anticipated entry into force of the Franco-German Treaty.
- The visit comes at an important turning point in modern German history, on the eve of the transition from Adenauer to Erhard with its obvious relation to the shifting of generations in German political life.
- To furnish tangible evidence of American good will toward the German people and of our recognition of the increasing importance of the Federal Republic as one of our major allies.
- To underscore our abiding interest in the welfare, stability and freedom of Germany as an integral part of Europe and the Western community.
- To provide graphic emphasis to the continuing American presence in and responsibility for Europe and to help restore some of the momentum toward European unity and Atlantic interdependence.
- To emphasize for the benefit of all Germans—both West and East—our continued recognition of the importance of Berlin, and our determination to defend and maintain our position there.
- To accord appropriate recognition and tribute to Chancellor Adenauer, in the twilight of his long tenure as Chancellor, for his invaluable and lasting contributions to the causes of democracy and freedom.
- To give the President an opportunity to see—and be seen by—as many Germans as possible in representative major cities of Germany. (Although De Gaulle toured West Germany extensively last fall, he did not visit Frankfurt, Wiesbaden or Berlin.)
- To strengthen German-American cooperation, understanding and sense of common purpose at the top level by discussion of current problems of mutual concern.
- There may be a few problems in the general area of protocol and precedence involving primarily Adenauer, Erhard and Brandt, each of whom will be engaged in a certain amount of jockeying for position. These could become particularly delicate in Berlin as concerns the respective role of the Chancellor and the Governing Mayor, but we should continue to regard this matter as primarily one for the Germans to work out among themselves. There will also be the problem of paying appropriate attention to Erhard in his role of Chancellor-apparent without giving offense to Chancellor Adenauer, the President’s host.
- As concerns the President’s substantive talks with the Chancellor
and other German leaders, these should not be viewed primarily as a
vehicle for pressuring the Germans into a series of specific actions
we would like them to take. Our dominant posture should be one of
sympathetic interest in problems of mutual concern and of confidence
that in close cooperation we can master them. At the same time,
there are several major problem areas of particular concern to the
United States which should be brought up with a view to making our
interest and our position unmistakably clear. These areas include,
at a minimum:
- the MLF and attendant problems in the field of military strategy and planning.
- trade policy (including United Kingdom entry into EEC) and current trade negotiations, and their relationship to our own policies under the Trade Expansion Act.
- our balance of payments situation, with particular reference to current offset arrangements.
- There will also be the problem throughout the visit, and particularly in Berlin, of how to deal with the problem of German reunification in a way which will meet the political and emotional requirements of the Germans themselves on this issue without holding forth false hopes or sounding overly provocative.
- Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 2274. Confidential. Drafted by Creel and cleared by Brandin and Tyler. Prepared for the President’s European trip.↩