127. Letter From German Chancellor Brandt to President Nixon 1

My dear Mr. President:

I want to thank you sincerely for the account of your impressions from your European tour. Mr. Sonnenfeldt’s oral presentation was a [Page 368] valuable complement to it.2 The reaffirmation of the American commitments in the Mediterranean, to which you gave such impressive expression, is of decisive importance for the security of Europe.

A conversation with President Tito on a short intermediate stop has shown me how strongly he was impressed by the meeting with you and what great interest he has in the maintenance of the balance in that region in view of his special position.

Especially in a situation in which the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union appear to be mounting, I share your view that we must seek settlements and better communications with vigor and tenacity. If the West continues to strive for this, any progress made in Central Europe may exercise positive effects also on solutions respecting other areas, e.g., the Middle East.

Whether the Soviet Union is interested in an effective détente in Central Europe, which I assume it is, will be shown by the test of Berlin. The Federal Government maintains its position: The German-Soviet treaty signed on August 12, 1970 can enter into force only if the situation in and concerning Berlin is effectively improved by an arrangement not subject to any time limit. The Federal Government’s main concern in this matter, on the basis of the existing rights of the Four Powers, is that the Soviet Union should respect the actual situation, i.e., the close tie between West Berlin and the Federal Republic.

Difficulties and reverses, which are customary in all negotiations with the Soviets, should not discourage us from maintaining our positions with firmness and determination. In this connection it will be important, following the talks of the French President in Moscow and the forthcoming meetings of Secretary Rogers and Sir Alec [Douglas-Home] with Mr. Gromyko, to organize as intensively as possible the consultations among the four Western Governments in preparation for the next negotiations on Berlin at the beginning of November. My Government is prepared to make its contribution thereto at any time and any place.

With sincere respect


Willy Brandt
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 753, Presidential Correspondence File, Germany, Chancellor Willy Brandt, May–Dec 1970. Confidential. The text printed here is the translation by the Department, which was transmitted through the German Embassy and attached to an October 16 memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger. For the text in German, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 3, pp. 1757–1758. In an October 22 memorandum forwarding the letter to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt wrote that Brandt’s main message “seems to be his concern that a deterioration in American-Soviet relations will upset his own grand design in Central Europe.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 753, Presidential Correspondence File, Germany, Chancellor Willy Brandt, May–Dec 1970)
  2. In an October 4 letter, Nixon briefed Brandt on his European trip, September 27–October 5, which included stops in Italy, Yugoslavia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. Winston Lord argued in an undated note to Kissinger that Nixon should see the reply from Brandt because “the President didn’t see his own [October 4] letter to Brandt.” (Both ibid.) Sonnenfeldt delivered Nixon’s letter during his visit to Bonn on October 5; see Document 128.