158. Letter From President Nixon to German Chancellor Brandt1

Dear Mr. Chancellor:

Your letter of December 162 was of much interest to me. The treaty which you signed in Warsaw on December 7 can be of lasting significance to Europe and provides, I believe, the most incontrovertible evidence of the determination of the Federal Republic to bring to an end those tensions and hostilities which stem from past chapters in Europe’s history.

As is evident from the events in Poland these days conditions in the country require the full attention of the Polish Government. Hopefully the new leaders will realize that relaxation of tensions and freer exchange with Western Europe will be useful to them if they are to correct [Page 473] the conditions which have caused such unrest among the population. The whole world needs the assurances of peace which will permit a greater apportionment of time, resources and energy to the problems which, while widely differing in nature, affect the daily life of all our citizens.

I have been following the Berlin talks with close attention and with full realization of the importance which they have not just for Berlin but for the broader effort, in which your Government is playing a leading role, to normalize East-West relations in Europe. At the moment the Soviet Union is seeking to portray the United States as the main obstacle to a Berlin settlement. The full agreement on the Western side concerning the Berlin talks, which you usefully emphasized in your talks in Warsaw, is the best answer to this Soviet tactic. The carefully coordinated positions we have presented in Berlin are, I believe, beginning to produce a Soviet response which while equivocal and unsatisfactory on important points, shows at least the beginning of movement. It is up to us now to pursue these leads and see if a worthwhile agreement is possible.

With regard to the form of the Berlin talks, I believe your idea to give them a conferencelike character merits full consideration and we will be glad to study the details of your thinking either in the Bonn Group or through our normal diplomatic channels. Meanwhile, I would suggest that we continue the established procedure but maintain sufficient flexibility to adjust the frequency and duration of the Ambassadorial and Counselor level meetings to possible movement in the Soviet position.3

May I take this occasion to send you and Frau Brandt our warm greetings for the holiday season which I understand you have the good fortune to be spending in Kenya.


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL GER W–US. No classification marking. Although no drafting information appears on the letter, Rogers attached the text to a December 23 memorandum for the President. (Ibid.) Kissinger forwarded both in a December 30 memorandum to Nixon (see footnote 3 below). On January 4 the Department pouched the letter to the Embassy for delivery and transmitted the text by telegram. (Telegram 629 to Bonn, January 4; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL GER W–US) In telegram 84 from Bonn, January 5, Fessenden reported delivering the letter that morning to Bahr, who said he would forward it to Brandt on vacation in Kenya. According to Fessenden, “Bahr read the letter quickly and was obviously pleased with its contents. He noted particularly the favorable comments on the Warsaw Treaty and the comments on future procedure for the Berlin talks, which he said was generally in line with German views.” (Ibid.) See also Dokumente zur Deutschlandpolitik, 1969–1970, Nr. 265, pp. 1038–39.
  2. The letter was dated December 15; Document 145.
  3. In a December 30 memorandum to the President (see footnote 1 above), Kissinger reported: “Through subsequent discussions with the Germans, it has become clearer that Brandt seemed to be primarily interested in extending the duration and number of the four power Ambassadorial and adviser-level meetings, not with establishing a permanent conference or raising the level of representation significantly as had been previously thought. The Chancellor’s suggestion remains only vaguely articulated, and indeed there have been some reports that, following the latest Berlin autobahn harassment just before Christmas, Brandt even regretted having proposed the intensification of the talks.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–179, NSSM 111)