146. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
- Your Meeting with Ambassador Pauls, December 17, 19702
This looks like it will be a messy affair. The following rounds up for you material (with Tabs) bearing on the situation.
- The Germans are obviously at least confused and probably deeply
troubled by their reading of our attitude on Ostpolitik. They have long
been aware of differences between the White House and the State
Department (and indeed people like Pauls, who have their own doubts about the Ostpolitik,
have been diligent in reporting home whatever adverse comment from here
they could pick up). It now seems, however, that the SPD people around Brandt are convinced that we are trying
to torpedo the Ostpolitik.
- —The Germans noted Acheson’s comments after the December meeting with the President and the Springer Press was quick to pick them up as being in effect White House comments which we did not want to make ourselves. (See Tab A)3
- —The SPD is deeply suspicious about Strauss’ two trips to the US. Strauss himself has publicly let it be known that he found Secretary Laird and the President are very critical of the consequences of Ostpolitik (Tab A).
- —In addition, Bahr has told [less than 1 line not declassified] that you broke your “agreement” with him that we would keep the government informed of any dealings we have with the CDU (Tab B). (The German Minister telephoned me just before the last Rockefeller dinner4 to inquire about whether Strauss would be seeing you, and also asked about Strauss’ earlier visit and his talk at that time with the President. I did not say anything beyond that I understood that Strauss might be coming to the dinner but that I knew nothing of any separate appointments.) Bahr claims that, in contrast to the US, the Poles first inquired of the Government how the recent Barzel visit should be handled and the Soviets did likewise in connection with Schroeder’s forthcoming visit to the USSR. He commented that “two can play at the game” of not keeping agreements and referred to the possible visit of Senator Muskie to Bonn. (Tab B)
- —Bahr and other Germans are also claiming that we are dragging our feet on Berlin, asserting that Hillenbrand had consented to an agreed Western line when he was in Bonn in November (and Rogers at the NATO meeting)5 but we subsequently went it alone along a harder tack. According to Bahr, the deal had been firmness on aims but flexibility on tactics. (As we reported on December 11 (Tab C)6 Ken Rush did in fact hold to a firm line, as he was justified in doing in view of the phony concessions offered by the Soviets.)
- —Bahr and other Germans argue that we live in a fool’s paradise if we think we can hold out on Berlin since time is on the side of the Soviets and the Berlin population wants a settlement. (Bahr has made the same statement to the Soviets.) It is worth recalling that it was Bahr who invented the theory that the pressure for a Berlin settlement would be on the Soviets because they would want so avidly to obtain ratification of the Moscow treaty.
- —The Soviets, needless to say, are feeding Bahr’s and Brandt’s (induced chiefly by Bahr) view of US foot-dragging. Soviet Ambassador Tsarapkin, in a talk with Brandt on December 15 (see below) charged that the US above all is responsible for the slow progress on Berlin, whereas the Soviets wanted agreement as soon as possible.
- —Bahr also claims that we in effect double-crossed the government on the matter of the recent CDU/CSU fraktion meeting in Berlin. He asserts there was agreement that it would be discouraged but that we then became passive while only the French made an effort to stop the meeting. (In fact, the Western agreement was that there would be no agreement around the time of an Ambassadorial meeting. Since the next Ambassadorial meeting was two weeks off we did not interpose objections to the CDU/CSU meeting; the French did.) Curiously enough, in this connection, both Brandt and President Heinemann visited Berlin within a few days of the last Ambassadorial meeting.
All of this puts in a somewhat peculiar light a letter to the President from Brandt which was delivered to us today. (Text and unofficial German Embassy translation are at Tab D.)7 (Brandt had told Rush some time ago he was sending it and Rush so reported to State. Sahm today also summarized the contents to Fessenden. The original has therefore been sent to State for translation and recommendations.)
Brandt’s letter is basically a report on his Warsaw talks but it includes his expression of gratitude for our support for the FRG’s policy, especially in regard to Poland. (On the record, we have of course given such support through the voice of the Secretary of State, publicly and privately earlier this month at NATO in Brussels, in the last two NATO ministerial communiqués, in his Congressional testimony of December 10 attacking Acheson and supporting Ostpolitik and in the Department’s press release the following day doing likewise.) More than that, Brandt tells the President that he was able to assure the Poles that there was absolutely no difference between the Western powers as regards Berlin negotiations.
At the same time, Brandt’s letter asserts that the last round of talks on Berlin produced a number of “points of contact” (Anknuepfungspunkte). Consequently, Brandt proposes consideration of the idea of giving the Berlin talks a “conference-like character” in the New Year. Bahr [less than 1 line not declassified] advanced the idea of raising the level to Hillenbrand and his friend Falin. Sahm, in summarizing the Brandt letter to Fessenden (Tab E)8 left open the question of level but explained that Brandt wanted an intensification so that the talks would be in “continuous session” rather than periodic one-day affairs. The reasoning, according to Sahm, apart from generally speeding up the negotiations, is that if there are no intervals the GDR would be less able to work “negatively on the Soviets.”[Page 431]
Bahr also mentions having a more or less permanent four-power session at the higher level in Berlin with simultaneous talks there between Bahr and the East German, Kohl. The point is that the four powers would work on an umbrella agreement while the Germans would deal with the details of access, the whole to be combined in a package that would imply ultimate Soviet responsibility for access without formally derogating from GDR sovereignty. (As we pointed out on December 11, Tab C, the general format of an agreement has been agreed with the Soviets. The crucial sticking points are on the substance of the agreement.)
- Brandt has sent similar letters to Heath and Pompidou and has also written more briefly to Kosygin. In delivering the letter to Kosygin to Soviet Ambassador Tsarapkin, Brandt said he had never made a juridical link between the Berlin talks and the treaty ratification but had emphasized the “importance” of a positive Berlin settlement for ratification. Brandt also expressed the conviction that Berlin would be settled early next year and ratification would then follow quickly (Tab F).9
[less than 1 line not declassified] Bahr spoke of the possibility of visiting the US again, of Brandt’s coming here and of either one of them doing a Face the Nation program. We had previously sent you a memo on a tentative Brandt visit to Indianapolis in connection with CCMS in May (Tab G).10 You approved a telegram instructing Embassy Bonn to welcome such a visit and holding out hope for a meeting with the President. This has been conveyed to the Germans, who expressed satisfaction.
Perhaps after your talk with Pauls we could have another brief chat to see where we go from here internally within the Government. In view of past experience a new NSSM seems fruitless. At the very least, State should be called upon to provide the President with an assessment of the Berlin talks and with proposed ways, with pros and cons, of proceeding. NSDM 91, November 6, page 3, para 5 provides the basis for this (Tab H).11[Page 432]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 685, Country Files, Europe, Germany, Vol. VIII. Secret; Nodis; Sensitive. Sent for information. According to another copy, Sonnenfeldt drafted the memorandum. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 10, Chronological File, 1969–75)↩
- Pauls called Kissinger on December 10, the same day The Washington Post published Acheson’s call to “cool down the mad race to Moscow, to request an appointment as soon as possible. When Kissinger asked if some politicians in Bonn had been “screaming again,” Pauls replied: “There are a number of points of common interest and I would like to see you alone.” (Ibid., Box 365, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) Kissinger met Pauls on December 17 from 5:14 to 5:45 p.m. (Record of Schedule; ibid., Miscellany, 1968–76) No U.S. record of the discussion has been found. Pauls forwarded an account to the German Foreign Office. According to Pauls, Kissinger explained that Nixon valued differing points of view, even if the source was occasionally a “pain in the neck.” See Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 3, pp. 2292–2295.↩
- Tab A, attached but not printed, is telegram 1610Z from USIS/Bonn to USIA, December 14, which included excerpts from recent articles in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt.↩
- A memorandum of conversation at the Rockefeller dinner on December 2 is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 269, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File, Dec. 1970–Aug. 1971.↩
- Regarding the senior-level meeting in Bonn, November 17–18, see Document 137; the NATO Ministerial meeting in Brussels, December 3–4, see Document 142 and footnote 5 thereto.↩
- At Tab C, attached but not printed, are Document 144 and telegram 1924 from Berlin, December 10; the latter is also in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 38–6.↩
- Attached but not printed. The official Department of State translation is Document 145.↩
- Tab E, attached but not printed, is telegram 14480 from Bonn, December 16; also in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 GER W.↩
- Tab F, attached but not printed, is telegram 14478 from Bonn, December 16; also ibid., POL GER W–USSR. For a record of the meeting between Brandt and Tsarapkin, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 3, pp. 2275–2276.↩
- Tab G, attached but not printed, is a memorandum from Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, November 28.↩
- Tab H is Document 136.↩
- Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Controlled Dissem; Background Use Only. The intelligence report was attached to a December 16 memorandum from Karamessines to Kissinger. Karamessines wrote that Fessenden had asked that Kissinger, Hillenbrand, and Sutterlin receive copies of the report. Karamessines further noted: “Although Bahr’s remarks may foretell shifts in the attitude of his government, in selecting such an informal method to communicate them, the State Secretary evidently chose not to use the direct, accountable channel available to him. The source of the report commented that he had never seen Bahr is such a depressed mood.” In an attached December 16 note to Kissinger, Richard T. Kennedy of the NSC staff also explained: “As soon as I was aware of [the report] I called Tom [Karamessines] to see if he could stop distribution to Hillenbrand and Sutterlin at State. Tom called back to say that the distribution had been made simultaneously.”↩
- See Document 141.↩