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

Two meetings of the three [Bahr, Rush, and Falin], on June 4th for two hours, and on June 6th for a little over nine hours. We came to an agreement on the basic formula for the relationship between West Berlin and the FRG (Annex II). We are stuck on detailed formulations for the conduct of West German representatives in West Berlin. Falin insists on a formula which shows a clear difference from the previous situation but which we reject as a general good conduct clause. With some effort, a compromise appears possible.

We are almost finished with Annex I (Traffic). In the process, we have essentially agreed that the German supplementary agreement, which Kohl and I will negotiate, also applies to West Berlin. The Russians no longer insist on separate negotiations with the Senat. The question of signature for the Senat remains open. We want the Senat to authorize me to sign; the Russians want the three powers to authorize a West Berliner.

We are in agreement with the NPD-ban and demilitarization should not lead to categories on either people or goods which would make traffic vulnerable to obstruction.

We are in agreement that the Federal Republic should not represent the affairs of West Berlin in the GDR but the question of consular representation of West Berliners in the GDR should not (and cannot) be resolved in the Berlin agreement.

Four or five points remain, whose solution, in the unanimous assessment of Rush, Falin and myself, requires three to four days of eight hours of work apiece.

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The talks are tough, very intensive, very open and, on Falin’s part, conducted by increasing and then withdrawing demands, a methodology characteristic of Soviet diplomacy in the final round.

Rush and I are certain that the Russians want to come to a positive result. Falin regrets that we cannot continue in the next several days; Brezhnev is coming to East Berlin on June 14 for the SED party congress, and this would be the opportunity to make clear to the GDR what agreements have been reached. Falin intended to be finished with the entire paper by then. We will now continue at the end of the month. It would be good if Rush returns here by June 22.

Falin explained the Soviet understanding that their consulate in West Berlin would be limited to nonpolitical questions, thus maintaining no political ties to the Senat and leaving undisturbed the political ties between the Soviet Embassy and the three Western Ambassadors. Rush said he will seek an appropriate ruling in Washington on this basis.

Rush will not send you a special telegram on the last meeting [June 6].

The three of us should have about two to three hours in Washington. In addition, I would like to have about one half hour with you alone.

Things look good.2

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 signed German original by the editor, 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 June 7. Actual names have been substituted for pseudonyms used in the message. According to an undated note, the following pseudonyms were used in this and other messages from Rush (or Bahr) to Kissinger: Kissinger (“Sunshine”), Rush (“Snow”), Brandt (“Whirlwind”), Bahr (“Fog”), Kohl (“Rain”), Dobrynin (“Blizzard”), Abrasimov (“Overcast”), and Falin (“Thunder”). (Department of State, Bonn Post Files: Lot 72 F 81, Berlin Negotiations—Amb. Kenneth Rush) For the German text, see also Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Vol. 2, pp. 918–919.
  2. During a conversation with the President at 9:43 a.m. on June 7, Kissinger reported that he had received a piece of “bad/good news” on Berlin. Kissinger: “They’re going so fast on the Goddamned Berlin agreement, that we’re going to lose it as a regular—.” Nixon: “You mean, you can’t—.” Kissinger: “Well, Rush, now that he’s so close, is going too fast.” “The tragedy is,” Kissinger explained, “what we’ve done on Berlin is really, we really, actually are getting them a good agreement now. The Russians are making major concessions on their new formula.” After an exchange on Vietnam, Kissinger returned to “this Berlin thing.” Nixon: “Well, Berlin is not important.” Kissinger: “No, no, but this guarantees the summit.” Nixon: “If you think so.” Kissinger: “Yes, because Dobrynin said that they’ve got to make major progress on Berlin to have the summit and they’ve got that now. It’s a, I feel sort of sorry that Berlin is important only that the cognoscenti are going to have to shut up. You know, again the Krafts and the Kleimans, that’s not going to bring you up in the public opinion polls.” Nixon: “No.” (Ibid., White House Tapes, Recording of Conversation Between Nixon and Kissinger June 7, 1971, 9:43–11:05 a.m., Oval Office, Conversation 511–1) The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume.