3. Editorial Note

On January 22, 1969, Secretary of State William Rogers sent President Richard Nixon a memorandum recommending a U.S. reply to the Soviet protest over the holding of the West German Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) in Berlin on March 5 to elect the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. The United States, Great Britain, and France had given permission for the Bundesversammlung to meet in Berlin and agreed that it did not violate the status of Berlin under international agreements. Since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, three of the four Federal Assemblies had taken place in Berlin (1954, 1959, 1964) without incident. Rogers expressed concern about possible Soviet-East German interference with access to Berlin. He also stated “that prohibiting the Federal Assembly in Berlin if the FRG wanted to hold it there would have serious damaging consequences: it would undermine German confidence in the Allies, have a bad effect on Berlin morale, [and] encourage the Soviets to proceed further on the course of trying to sever the vital ties between the FRG and Berlin.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 681, Country Files, Europe, Germany, Vol. I)

Two days later, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger forwarded Rogers’ memorandum to Nixon and recommended that the President approve the draft text of the reply to the Soviets but delay transmission of the note “for some three weeks to minimize the likelihood of a further exchange with the Soviets; but that if the Germans prefer early delivery we abide by their wish on this matter.” On January 28, 1969, Kissinger notified Rogers of Nixon’s approval. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 15–2 GER W)