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

The bureaucrats have been foiled, and as you doubtless know by now from the cables,2 we have completed an agreement. It contains virtually everything we hoped to get under our maximum demands, and the momentum inspired by Abrasimov’s wanting to conclude the agreement yesterday resulted in his making concessions which are still hard to understand. I shall not go into details, since you will have the cables by the time this arrives, but the provisions on unimpeded access, visits by West Berliners to East Berlin and the GDR, Federal ties, and representation abroad, including the use of passports in Russia, are all something that we hardly dared hope for.
Bahr is in ecstasy, and after being in touch with the Chancellor told me that the Chancellor wanted to give me any present I would name. He should be giving the presents to you and the President.
Sauvagnargues and Jackling were in something of a daze throughout the proceedings, but all in all are to be highly commended for the courage they showed. They both made very fine contributions to the final result.
The State Department at long last seemed to have caught up with the game plan and last evening while we were still negotiating I received the cable from them of which you received a copy, asking me not to conclude the agreement.3 But it was too late.
Needless to say, I have not carried out the flood of instructions containing the pet ideas in their maximum form of the various bureaucrats. They will doubtless try to change various aspects of the agreement, and this would be, as you know, very bad in our relations with Russians and otherwise. It may be necessary for you to intervene [Page 854] to prevent this from happening.4 I am sending to the Department cables justifying the failure to follow various instructions.5 These point out that the actual drafts of agreement drawn up by them at the senior level and which have always been considered too optimistic, in fact have been exceeded in terms of what we have in our present agreement. You will, of course, get copies of these cables, and I hope they will be very useful to you in handling the situation.
Nothing has been more clear to me than the fact that if the President, with your invaluable help, had not intervened, we would never have had a Berlin agreement. Once the Russians realized that we really were serious, they carried through on every understanding we had, while I had to adapt to the changes which had to come about in working with the British, French, and German Foreign Office. Abrasimov all in all did a really first class job, except that he almost gave the game plan away by looking to me for guidance too often.
I am looking forward to giving you, and I hope the President, the full story at the first opportunity. Please tell the President again how sound his approach is and how grateful I am for his entrusting me with this mission. I can only repeat that the best thing that has happened to our country is the fact that you and he are working together to help our country so magnificently.6

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 2. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The message was sent through the special Navy channel in Frankfurt; no time of transmission is on the message. A handwritten note indicates that the message was received in Washington at 1700Z; it was then forwarded to Kissinger in San Clemente.
  2. See Document 296.
  3. Document 297.
  4. In a telephone conversation with Haldeman at 9:22 a.m. (PDT), Kissinger reported: “Rush is running to an agreement and State doesn’t know about the byplay and trying to slow him down and Russians giving more concessions than we can ask for. If Rogers does try to get him it would help if the President says we want a fast agreement. They can’t understand why it’s moving so fast and not take orders to slow down. I can probably handle it from here. Don’t want him to be surprised. On the other hand, I left the time open. I am certain they will go again for the way we did it last time. I will raise it.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 369, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) Haldeman’s notes of the conversation are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member and Office Files, H. R. Haldeman.
  5. See Documents 301, 303, and 307.
  6. In a telephone conversation with Dobrynin at 1:50 p.m. (PDT), Kissinger summarized the message from Rush: “Rush went ahead and concluded the agreement,” Kissinger further explained. “We are going to ask him on Monday—State is going crazy because they don’t know why it’s working so fast—so he will come back for a week. He may not initial the agreements but pay no attention. Everything will go on as it is. I can’t refuse Secy. to call back the Ambassador. If there’s a disagreement between State and him, we will rule for him. We have achieved one thing—Rush is saying good things about Abrasimov. Done a first class job.” When Dobrynin suggested that everything was proceeding as expected, Kissinger replied: “Except yesterday instructions not to go further until he has gone home. But for him to go as far as possible and make it look like it will be finished. He will say he has to check with State and we cannot refuse that but no problem. I think they have found a formula for use of passports. It looks to me that it’s settled. We now have the bureaucracy to worry about. Simply time consuming. I think we will make the deadline or maybe miss it by a few days. Want you to understand what’s going on. Internal American problems. No disagreement on plans.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 57, Country Files, Europe, Berlin and European Security, Vol. II [2 of 2])