234. Message From the Ambassador to Germany (Rush) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

After receiving your messages of May 3rd,2 I got in touch with Bahr, and we agreed that no part of the Bahr draft agreement would be given to Falin at the meeting they had scheduled for last evening. In this meeting, Falin confirmed to Bahr the information that you had received from Dobrynin that Falin had been authorized by Moscow to conduct confidential meetings with Bahr and me in Bonn. Falin further expressed the view that Honecker’s replacement of Ulbricht would be a delaying factor, because Honecker would have to prove that he is a strong man and would not be as free to move as Ulbricht would have been.

Bahr and I agreed this morning that the only thing we should give Falin prior to the working level meeting on May 17 and 18 would be the neutral formulations of Bahr’s draft, that is, substantially the same material you have given Dobrynin. Bahr would also attempt to secure confirmation from Falin that these neutral formulations are acceptable.

If this is confirmed, it would be a major breakthrough, for in essence it would mean that the Russians had taken a substantial step away from their position that the GDR, not the Russians, should be the primary contracting party on questions involving access and inner-city movement. We could then concentrate on attempting to reach agreement on the practical improvements for implementation of which the Four Powers would agree to undertake responsibility.

After the working level meeting in London, we can decide the manner and extent of disclosure to Falin of the substantive portions of [Page 699] the Bahr draft, relating to access, Berlin/FRG special ties, representation abroad, etc.3

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The message was sent through the special Navy channel in Frankfurt. No time of transmission appears on the message; a handwritten note indicates that it was received in Washington on May 5 at 2200Z.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 230 and Document 231.
  3. Bahr also sent a special channel message to Kissinger on May 5, reporting on his meetings with Falin and Rush and responding to the issues raised in Kissinger’s message of May 3 (see Document 231). Bahr commented: “I believe that the Soviets have accepted both the method and the general line. In order to avoid misunderstandings, I would like to have the direct reaction of the primary author of the Soviet paper,” i.e., Falin. “Based on the attitude of Falin,” he concluded, “Soviet Berlin policy will not be disturbed by the change from Ulbricht to Honecker. The inner-German negotiations could become more difficult; Honecker does not have the authority of Ulbricht. He will attempt to gain such authority on the domestic side. For the Soviets he will be an easier partner. In his first declaration before the Central Committee he endorsed the attack on Mao. At the party congress in Moscow, Ulbricht and the Rumanians were the only members who did not direct an attack against China.” These excerpts were translated from the original German by the editor. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 60, Country Files, Europe, Kissinger Office Files, Egon Bahr, Berlin File [2 of 3]) For the full text of the message in German, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1971, Vol. 2, pp. 726–727. See also Bahr, Zu meiner Zeit, p. 362.