240. Message From the German State Secretary for Foreign, Defense, and German Policy (Bahr) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


On the London consultations, you should know that Hillenbrand took a rather cool and skeptical position.2 It was probably not an accident that he waited until the end to mention the guidelines of the NSC that give sufficient room for maneuver.

I pointed out that the way things stand, contrary to prevailing opinion, the Four-Power negotiations should be finished before supplementary negotiations at the German level begin.

I told Hillenbrand personally that the Chancellor is for a speedy negotiation without a summer recess. Hillenbrand stated that Rush, after his visit in June, would be available indefinitely.

Regarding the successful vote on the Mansfield Resolution,3 to which the Chancellor intended to contribute in his interview, our congratulations are mixed with some concerns: individual arguments in the debate were so stupid, apparently or actually uninformed and emotionally charged, that the Chancellor would like to speak with the Foreign Relations Committee during his visit. Do you have any advice on this?

On our side, there will be no linkage between MBFR and Berlin. At the same time, we assume that Berlin remains the first priority while MBFR still requires an exploratory phase before negotiations can begin whose duration is difficult to predict. However successful these negotiations may be judged, the real success for the GDR lies in participating in its first conference as an accepted international partner.

We will not change our position that the entry of both German states in the UN can only follow as the result of the fundamental settlement of the relationship between them. This buys us a little time. The inevitability of East German participation in MBFR [talks] will not force us to the barricades.

I would appreciate a hint on how much time the President and you have for the discussion with the Chancellor. Until now, one and one-half hours have been scheduled. I doubt somewhat whether that is enough.4

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 60, Country Files, Europe, Egon Bahr, Berlin File [2 of 3]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The message, translated here from the original German by the editor, was sent through the special Navy channel in Frankfurt. No time of transmission or receipt appears on the message. For the German text, see also Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1971, Vol. 2, pp. 850–852.
  2. In a conversation with Rush after his return from London, Bahr also reported that he was “pleased with the Berlin aspects of the meeting, although he did come away with the feeling that the U.S. was taking a somewhat harder and more difficult line than the others.” (Telegram 6106 from Bonn, May 20; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 GER W)
  3. Reference is to a resolution, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mansfield, to limit the number of American troops stationed in Europe. The proposal was defeated in the Senate by a roll-call vote on May 19. In its efforts to oppose the resolution, the Nixon administration asked the West German Government to issue a public statement on the importance of the U.S. troop commitment, particularly on the advent of negotiations for mutual and balanced force reductions. On May 14 the West German press office released the text of an interview in which Brandt opposed unilateral reductions without directly criticizing the Mansfield resolution. (Memorandum from Houdek to Ziegler, May 15; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 824, Name Files, Mansfield Amendment)
  4. Kissinger replied by special channel on May 24: “Thank you for your cable. We will bring Hillenbrand along when there are decisions to make. He will not hold matters up. A meeting of the Chancellor with the Foreign Relations Committee would be very helpful. As for the meeting between the President and the Chancellor: a working dinner is planned for him in addition to the one and onehalf hours with the President. This will permit a discussion of more technical issues in the larger group. The Chancellor should know that no one in our government outside the White House knows about the RushFalinBahr meetings or your channel to me. I will try to extend the hour and a half somewhat but cannot promise it. You and I will require some time to talk perhaps with Rush present. I look forward to your report about the May 26 meeting.” (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 60, Country Files, Europe, Egon Bahr, Berlin File [2 of 3]) Bahr did not report on the May 26 meeting; see Document 244.