138. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Helms to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Background of Bahr-Soviet Talks
Recent talks in West Berlin between State Secretary Egon Bahr and various Soviet officials2 have been covered in a series of reports, [less than 1 line not declassified] which have already been made available to you. However, you may also be interested in a summary of the background of this reporting.
The meetings began in early June of this year, shortly after Chancellor Willy Brandt sought to follow up quickly on the Bahr– Gromyko understanding and encountered stiff opposition within the Cabinet. Indications were that Bahr arranged the meetings carefully and that he stressed their confidential nature to those aware of them. At the same time, the meetings lacked some of the trappings that would [Page 399] have made them entirely clandestine. Thus they followed the pattern of similar Soviet-Bahr contacts in Berlin during the 1960’s, when Bahr was Chief of the Press Office of the West Berlin Senat and Brandt was Governing Mayor.
Soon after the meetings started, [1½ lines not declassified] the regular Soviet participant [1 line not declassified] Valeriy Vadimovich Lednev, an “international observer” (editor) of Izvestiya who has been engaged in German affairs on and off since he came to West Germany with Aleksey Adzhubey3 in the summer of 1964. Indications were that Lednev came from Moscow for his meetings with Bahr. For some of the October sessions, he brought his family with him to visit in West Berlin.
[3½ lines not declassified] Lednev himself has reportedly represented the KGB in some form, although the connection is not clear. Some of the Soviets with whom Bahr met during his earlier Berlin days were known KGB officers. As far as we know, all of Bahr’s Soviet contacts have been active in diplomatic affairs and, as another common trait, have been German speakers.
Since June, we had reason to think that the Chief of the Third European (Germany, Austria) Division of the Soviet Foreign Ministry, V. I. Falin, was somehow involved in the exchanges with Bahr. [1 line not declassified]. In very recent meetings, we obtained indications that Falin was present in Berlin. Most recently Bahr himself identified Falin as his discussion partner in a meeting on 13 November.
On 17 November, as you know, Bahr revealed the fact of his discussions with the Soviets to senior American, French and British representatives in Bonn. He did not disclose the full extent of his meeting schedule, however, and it is safe to assume that his account of the subjects discussed was, at best, selective.4
When the meetings started, we assumed that they represented an extension of Bahr’s on-the-record exchanges with the Soviet Government, [Page 400] their purpose being mainly to enable Bonn and Moscow to coordinate positions informally during events leading up to the conclusion of the West German-Soviet accord. We still have no reason to believe that the meetings were anything other than a form of secret and personalized diplomatic exchange on behalf of Willy Brandt, or that the KGB has played more than a support role in them.
A listing of reports on the subject [less than 1 line not declassified] is attached.5 Copies of the full series can be made available if you need them.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1324, NSC Secretariat, NSC Unfiled Material, 1970 [4 of 11]. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.
  2. The Soviet officials included Valentin Falin, Valeri Lednev, and Vëiìacheslav Kevorkov. See Falin, Politische Erinnerungen, pp. 128–129; and Kevorkov, Der geheime Kanal, pp. 90–91.
  3. Alexei Adzhubei was editor of Izvestia and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. In July 1964 Adzhubei visited West Germany to prepare for a visit of his father-in-law, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev; both men were ousted from office in October 1964.
  4. Telegram 13409 from Bonn, November 18, reported on a private discussion between Bahr and Allied representatives the previous day: “Bahr began by saying he had something very confidential to impart. He had been approached the week before last by a member of the Soviet Embassy staff, who told Bahr that Falin, head of the Western European Division of the Soviet Foreign Ministry, had indicated interest in speaking with him in West Berlin. The Soviet Embassy officer asked Bahr whether he would be available for such a discussion. Bahr said he would be. The discussion had taken place last Friday [November 13] in Berlin in his official residence as Bundesbevollmaechtiger [Federal Plenipotentiary] for Berlin.” Bahr then read from a German account of the meeting. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL GER W–USSR) For the German account, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 3, pp. 2042–2046.
  5. Attached but not printed is a list of nine intelligence information cables that Helms forwarded to Kissinger from June to November 1970.