334. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Your Meetings with Chancellor Brandt in Key Biscayne Tuesday, December 28, 1:30–4:30 private; Working Dinner, 8:00–9:30; Wednesday December 29, 9:30–11:00, private, Optional Plenary Meeting 11:00–12:00

I. Purpose

There are no specific agreements intended to come out of this meeting. As in the discussions with Prime Minister Heath,2 a general review is in order, with special attention to the relations between Europe, the US and the USSR.

The Chancellor, who is vacationing in Sarasota, comes to this meeting as he enters on what is almost certainly the decisive test of his policies and personal leadership. Between now and late May, the Bundestag and Bundesrat will decide the fate of his treaties with the USSR and Poland. Though he is expected to win approval by a very slender margin, these next months will be ones of intense German debate on foreign policy, including not only the treaties, but the Berlin agreement, which, owing to Soviet linkage, are intimately bound to the fate of the treaties. By implications or innuendo, the Chancellor will want as much support as he can gain.

Thus, your basic purpose will be to steer carefully between the general endorsement we have given the stated goals of Ostpolitik and the more specific [Page 933] approval of the German treaties that would propel us into the middle of what is going to be a tough vicious debate in Germany.

Beyond this general aim, you will want to explain to the Chancellor your view of relations with the USSR, with special emphasis on your unwillingness to settle for vague assurances or a good climate devoid of substance.

Our relations with the USSR, in such matters as SALT and your trip to Moscow are in a broad sense linked to Brandt’s Ostpolitik, in that a bad turn in Soviet-American relations could make it seem that Brandt had been pursuing an illusory rapprochement with the USSR.

You should emphasize:

Now more than ever before, when there may be some chance for better relations with the USSR, it is essential that the Allies harmonize their individual approaches within a common framework;3
The USSR must not be permitted to set the terms of a détente; rapprochement with Moscow must have solid political accomplishments at its core, not only in Europe, but in other areas—Middle East, South Asia—where there is still dangerous potential for confrontation.
The German treaties and the Berlin agreements mark a major change from the postwar period; this turn must not become the cause for future discord over how to build on what has been achieved.
In our dealing with the USSR, we will make no arrangements at the expense of the Allies, and intend to continue the closest consultations on such matters as a European Conference and troop reductions which will not be resolved bilaterally with the USSR.4
The recent monetary agreements5 demonstrate that we can overcome differences if we can transcend national preoccupations in the interest of Western unity.
The statesmen of Western Europe have an unprecedented opportunity to move ahead toward unity now that the British are in the EEC.6 You have agreed with President Pompidou and Prime Minister Heath that Western cohesion must not be pitted against détente with the East,7 which is what the Soviets will try to accomplish in the dealings with the Allies separately and collectively.
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II. Background, Participants, Press Plan


Background: We differ greatly with Brandt’s concept of East-West relations, though we have been careful not to let the basic conflict come to open disagreements. Brandt has long believed that the Western allies could not be relied upon to protect let alone advance German interests. Consequently he devised a new approach to the USSR that differs conceptually from his Christian Democratic predecessors; his thesis is that the status quo in Central Europe can only be changed by accepting it as the starting point (as the Soviets insist):8 Thus, he has developed the thesis of one German nation in two states, and indicated his readiness to concede in the Soviet and Polish treaties not only the postwar division of Europe, but ultimate recognition of East Germany as a separate state.9

His underlying assumption is that the US is destined to disengage from Europe and that he must settle his relations with the East while the US military and political presence is still strong.10 Hence his hectic campaign to conclude treaties with Moscow, ignoring the Berlin problem; and then his pressures to achieve a four-power Berlin agreement to rescue the German treaties, and, ironically, now, the reverse linkage from the Soviets that make implementation of Berlin dependent on treaty ratification.11 All this brings us to the present juncture in which we must defend our own four power agreement with the Soviets, but in doing so we seem to be putting on pressures for the Bundestag to ratify the Soviet-German treaty.12 Moreover, by making a European Conference on Security and Cooperation dependent on implementation of the Berlin agreement, we have added weight on the already fragile treaties.13 If they fail, no one can foresee what this would mean in terms of Soviet policy or German internal developments. If they succeed, the Germans will be committed to an ever increasing rapprochement with Moscow and a modus vivendi with East Germany. It is in the German scheme of Ostpolitik that economic penetration of Eastern Europe will become the dominant strategy of their policy,14 which, in some undefined manner, will cause the Soviet Union to disengage from Eastern Europe and allow the Germans to solve the question of national unity.

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In sum, German national interests, as conceived by Brandt, dictate that Germany must play the leading role in East-West diplomacy in Europe. Since Brandt’s policy is a constant gamble, he naturally fears that outside events will intrude on his calculations—i.e., a crisis outside Europe—or that the US will preempt Soviet interest in Germany in favor of a US-Soviet rappochement. Characteristically, Brandt believes our shift of attitude on China vindicates his own approach to the USSR.15

On matters of Allied policy, the Germans have been erratic. Largely through the efforts of Defense Minister Helmut Schmidt, the Germans have played a leading role in making the Euro Group (ten NATO countries) a viable working arrangement, contributing to increased Western Defense. Schmidt was also helpful in improving the German offset package.16 Nevertheless, the Brandt government is under pressure not to make any more bilateral financial arrangements to offset our troop costs, but in 1973, to replace it with a NATO-wide multilateral arrangement. This is probably in our interest as well.17 (Brandt may propose this.)

The recent financial arrangements are less favorable than the Germans wanted, largely because they suffered in comparison to France. The Germans also fear that their agriculture will be damaged by trade concessions that may be made in the follow-on negotiations. German concerns over the recent economic crisis are now focussed on improving relationships between the US and EEC; and they are interested in pressing for some more institutionalization of USEEC consultations.18 (Brandt may propose something of this order.)

Despite significant differences we will probably have to deal with him for the foreseeable future; the odds are that he will gain approval of his treaties, and with the prestige of the Nobel prize,19 may be reelected in September 1973. (Note: Rainer Barzel, the Christian Democratic leader, hopes to come here in January to see you.)20 Our principal objective is to anchor West Germany to the NATO Alliance and to the EEC as insurance against the frustrations within Germany when Ostpolitik [Page 936] is played out,21 or when the Germans are confronted with demands to reduce their Western ties as the price for further movement in the East.

Participants: You and the Chancellor will have two private meetings while Secretary Rogers and Foreign Minister Scheel will hold parallel talks. A plenary session on Wednesday is optional.

III. Action Sequence

You will receive the Chancellor at 1:15 Tuesday at the Helicopter Pad and following the reception ceremonies, begin a 3 hour meeting at your residence. You will host a working dinner for the Chancellor and Foreign Minister Scheel that evening at 8:00 p.m.22 On Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., the Chancellor will arrive for the second and last private meeting (2½ hours). You then have the option of having the remainder of the Chancellor’s party to join you for a plenary meeting. Then you and the Chancellor have the option of meeting with the press for informal remarks similar to the Pompidou23 and Heath visits. The Chancellor departs at 12:05 p.m.

IV. Your Basic Talking Points

  • —In your talks with Pompidou and Heath, two themes have been the accelerated pace of change in the international arena24 and how the major Allies, Britain, France, Germany and the US can deal with the new situations that are emerging;
  • —The Chancellor has personally made a major contribution to fluidity that now characterizes East-West relations; he is to be congratulated on the successful conclusion of the second part of the Berlin negotiations;25
  • —It is now necessary to raise our sights from the immediate tactical problems to the medium term prospects of dealing with both the USSR and it allies, and with each other;
  • —We have always supported European unity; we appreciate the constructive role Germany has played in paving the way for British entry; [Page 937] we have in the past underestimated some of the economic problems that European unity creates, but we cannot conceive of a European peace order that does not rest, first of all, on the intimate cooperation of Britain, France and Germany;
  • —You initiated this series of meetings with our Allies to ensure that in a period of international change and resulting uncertainties or apprehensions, that we harmonize our policies to the greatest extent possible and maintain an essential unity of purpose that permits autonomous national bilateral policies within a common framework.26

Soviet Relations and European Security

  • —You are working for a genuine détente with the USSR, and the Chancellor’s policies have been in a parallel direction.
  • —There are elements in Soviet conduct that suggest they may want a better relationship with the US (and with Germany), but there are also aspects of their policies—especially outside of Europe—that are sobering;
  • —There is the dangerous tendency to seek a marginal, tactical advantage even though this sort of policy cannot help but jeopardize any longer term relationship;
  • —What concerns you now is that having achieved some solid results, as in the Berlin agreements, we not allow the Soviets to begin playing the Allies off against each other;27
  • —There are some tactical differences in the Alliance—on such issues as the timing of a European Conference, or the precise approaches to negotiating troop reductions; these are of no great consequence unless we allow the Soviets to enlarge on our small differences and inflate them into major issues;
  • —On European Security, you believe a Conference with the Warsaw Pact must be deferred, while the West concentrates on its own preparations. The Conference must not become a substitute security arrangement for NATO, which is what the Soviets want;28
  • —Similarly, improved East-West trade and economic arrangements must not dilute the unity of the EEC, or our Atlantic partnership;
  • —Germany is the primary object and potential victim of hasty or ill-conceived agreements,29 whether on European security or mutual troop reductions;
  • —On the latter—negotiated troop reductions—we rule out any bilateral bargain with the USSR; any agreements must come through the Allied consensus.

(Note: In view of the extensive and rather intimate contacts the Chancellor has had with Brezhnev personally, you may want to ask his estimate of the man and his policies.)


  • —Your visit to Peking will inevitably differ in its objectives and contents from that to Moscow; after 25 years of no communications we must first establish the philosophical framework for relations with China; this will take time; more specific matters can follow later when the framework is set.
  • —You did not embark on your China policy to harm Soviet interests although the effect of recent Soviet actions in South Asia could produce such a result; these Soviet actions were in part intended to humiliate China;
  • —Your basic point, which you believe is shared by the Chancellor, is that China will be a major international actor in the years ahead; therefore, we must have communication and normal relations with it; this will also help China to resist Soviet pressures;
  • —You recognize that Germany’s relations with China will be a sensitive subject because of East Germany and the Bundestag ratification on problems with the USSR.

Berlin and the German Treaties

  • —You believe that the Berlin agreement is a major accomplishment of Allied and German cooperation;
  • —There have been some tricky passages in the negotiations, and the end is not in sight;
  • —For our part we will defend the Berlin agreements on their merits;
  • —We cannot be drawn into the internal German debate over the detailed provisions of the treaties, even though the Chancellor knows that we will do nothing to complicate his problems;30
  • —We defer to Bonn on the future of East German recognition or admission to the UN, but we must be careful not to jeopardize our position in Berlin.31
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German Offset

  • —The new agreement which runs to June 1973 is a helpful contribution (about $2 billion in offset for two years);
  • —It may be that this should be the last such arrangement;
  • —We could use the time to work out a broader multilateral offset arrangement that would include all the Alliance;
  • —Germany’s contribution would still be large, but we would welcome a European initiative in this area.

The EEC Trade and Monetary Problems

  • —Germany’s role has been constructive in easing the entry of Britain, and in accepting a relatively large revaluation of the mark;
  • —We need Bonn’s support in agreeing on a trade package with the EEC;
  • —Whatever our short run problems with the EEC, our longer term interests are identical and we support the strengthening and expansion of the Community.

Additional talking points and background material attached to this memorandum:

Tab A, European Unity and the EEC;

Tab B, European Security Issues: MBFR and A European Conference;

Tab C, Berlin and the German Treaties;

Tab D, German Offset;

Tab E, Trade and Monetary Issues32

In the attached briefing book, there are: a memorandum and talking points from Secretary Rogers,33 background papers on the inner German agreements, German reaction to the New Economic Policy and Narcotics; Biographical material and a schedule.34

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 918, VIP Visits, Brandt Visit, Key Biscayne December 1971 [1 of 3]. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. Butterfield stamped the memorandum to indicate that the President had seen it.
  2. Nixon met Heath in Bermuda on December 20 and 21.
  3. Nixon underlined the phrase “Allies harmonize their individual approaches within a common framework.”
  4. Nixon underlined much of this point.
  5. Reference is to the Smithsonian Agreement of December 18 which realigned the currencies of the so-called Group of Ten: the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Netherlands, West Germany, Italy, Sweden, and Japan.
  6. Nixon underlined this sentence.
  7. Nixon underlined this sentence and checked the phrase “Western cohesion must not be pitted against détente with the East.”
  8. Nixon underlined this phrase.
  9. Nixon underlined much of this sentence.
  10. Nixon underlined this sentence and highlighted it in the margin.
  11. Nixon underlined the phrase “make implementation of Berlin dependent on treaty ratification.”
  12. Nixon underlined this sentence and highlighted it in the margin.
  13. Nixon underlined most of this sentence.
  14. Nixon underlined most of this phrase and highlighted it in the margin.
  15. Nixon underlined much of the previous two sentences.
  16. Deputy Under Secretary Samuels and West German Ministerial Director Herbst signed the 1972–1973 offset agreement in Brussels on December 10. The text of the agreement is in telegram 5168 from USNATO, December 10. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, FN 12 GER W) See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. III, Documents 50, 68, and 86.
  17. Nixon highlighted this sentence in the margin, and underlined it and part of the previous two sentences as well.
  18. Nixon underlined this sentence and highlighted it in the margin.
  19. Brandt accepted the 1971 Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo on December 11.
  20. For an account of the meeting between Nixon and Barzel on January 28, see Document 338.
  21. Nixon highlighted this phrase in the margin.
  22. Nixon, Rogers, Rush, Brandt, Scheel, Pauls, and Sahm attended the working dinner, which lasted from 8:15 to 10:30 p.m. (President’s Daily Diary; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files) Although no record of the discussion has been found, see Sahm, “Diplomaten taugen nichts”, pp. 291–293.
  23. Nixon met Pompidou on Terceira Island in the Azores on December 13 and 14.
  24. Nixon underlined the phrase “accelerated pace of change in the international arena.”
  25. Nixon noted the “successful conclusion” of the second part of the Berlin negotiations. Michael Kohl and Egon Bahr signed the transit agreement between East and West Germany in Bonn on December 17. For text of the agreement, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 1169–1179.
  26. Nixon underlined most of this point.
  27. Nixon underlined the last phrase of this point.
  28. Nixon underlined most of this point and highlighted it in the margin.
  29. Nixon underlined this phrase.
  30. Nixon underlined this point.
  31. Nixon underlined this point.
  32. All tabs are attached but not printed.
  33. In his December 22 memorandum to the President, Rogers noted: “One of Brandt’s objectives may be to secure your further endorsement of the treaties the FRG negotiated with the USSR and Poland in 1970 which he has now submitted to the Bundestag for approval. You will wish to assure him that we continue to welcome his efforts toward reconciliation, provided they entail no loss to Western security and freedom. You will find Brandt highly pleased with the Berlin Agreement and personally grateful to Ambassador Rush for his strong and constructive leadership in the negotiations.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 918, VIP Visits, Brandt Visit (Dec 1971), Key Biscayne [1 of 3])
  34. The other materials contained in the briefing book are ibid.