145. Letter From German Chancellor Brandt to President Nixon1

Mr. President,

The Treaty which the Polish Prime Minister and I and our Foreign Ministers signed last week is intended to help ensure, without prejudice to the rights of the Four Powers in relation to Germany as a whole, that the problem of the Oder-Neisse Line will no longer be a political burden on the relationship between the Federal Republic of Germany and Poland, and an impediment to an East-West détente in Europe. The realization of the necessity of this step does not mitigate the feelings of sorrow which move my fellow countrymen and me when we think of the territories which were German provinces for many centuries.

I am grateful for the understanding which you and your Administration have in this particular instance shown for the policy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

My talks with Mr. Gomulka and Mr. Cyriankiewicz have given me the impression that the Polish side will seriously endeavour to cooperate constructively in improving relations with the Federal Republic of Germany.

As was to be expected, the greater part of my talks was taken up by bilateral problems. I emphasized, as I had done in Moscow, that the Federal Government was in no position to provide government credits for the development of economic relations.

The realistic attitude shown by the Polish leaders was remarkable. They take it for granted that the Federal Republic of Germany and the Polish People’s Republic are and will remain loyal partners of the existing alliances. We were in agreement that the treaties of Moscow and Warsaw were politically interrelated. I informed them, without any negative reaction, that this interrelationship would also become evident when the matter is debated in the German Bundestag.

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At the Warsaw Pact conference in East Berlin, the DDR sought to sow the suspicion that in the negotiations on Berlin the West is trying to isolate the DDR and to wreck the negotiations by making excessive demands. In setting forth my counter-declarations, I was fortunately able to point out that there were no differences of opinion between the Three Powers and the Federal Government on the negotiating positions regarding Berlin.

My own impression of the Berlin talks is that the last round has produced a number of points of departure. In my opinion it is now important for the West to retain the initiative. I want to give this to consider, that the West should propose that the Berlin negotiations be given a conference-like character in the coming year. If you, Mr. President, were to accept this idea, we could instruct the quadripartite group in Bonn to work out details. I have also written to the President of the French Republic, Monsieur Georges Pompidou, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Edward Heath, putting forward the same suggestion.

I have addressed a few lines to the Soviet Prime Minister, Mr. Kosygin, to dispel any possible apprehension that the Federal Republic of Germany was seeking to create additional difficulties in the Eastern Bloc by means of the Warsaw Treaty.

In conclusion, I should like to take this opportunity to wish you every success in your responsible office and the best of health during the coming year.

Please accept, Mr. President, the expression of my high esteem.

Sincerely yours,

Willy Brandt
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 753, Presidential Correspondence File, Germany, Chancellor Willy Brandt, May–Dec. 1970. No classification marking. The source text is the official translation from the Department of State, which Eliot forwarded as an attachment to a memorandum to Kissinger on December 18. (Ibid.) The letter was delivered to the White House on December 16; see Document 146. For the original German text, see Dokumente zur Deutschlandpolitik, 1969– 70, pp. 982–83. For the nearly identical version Brandt sent Heath on December 15, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 3, pp. 2273–2275. For memoir accounts of the letter to Nixon, see Bahr, Zu meiner Zeit, p. 354; Kissinger, White House Years, p. 800; and Sutterlin and Klein, Berlin, pp. 130–131.