338. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Your Meeting with CDU Chairman Rainer Barzel on Friday, January 28, 1972 11:32–12:16 p.m.2
[Page 965]


  • The President
  • Mr. Barzel
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger

Mr. Barzel: I want to thank you for your very kind invitation.3 I must also congratulate you on your Vietnam speech.4 I was happy that you took the initiative to see the European leaders; this has counteracted the Soviet shadow. I think it is essential to have visible cooperation between the EEC and the United States. I hope you will visit. It may not be possible in an election year but I hope you can soon afterwards. Naturally the initiative must come from the Europeans. We shall be working on it in the coming weeks.

Moscow attacked the EEC in my talks there.5 The results of your Peking policy are already noticeable. The PRC is offering to send an ambassador to the EEC.6 You’ll soon be in Peking and Moscow. Moscow’s policy is very tough.

The President: I am not surprised. Despite the change in Soviet statements there is no change in Soviet policy. They still want to have [Page 966]domination of Europe and to neutralize the FRG. I know that the Soviet change in tone is greatly influenced by our China policy. Their desire for détente has more to do with China than with Europe. They remain eager to fragment Europe, but they use softer tactics now. I see the Communists for my reasons and they see me for their reasons.

We will not interfere in the ratification process in Bonn. It is a German domestic problem. We recognize your party’s views. We understand your concern that treaties would perpetuate the division of Germany. We consider the FRG an old friend. Our only concern is that détente doesn’t become a way to weaken Germany’s ties with the West. We are not for a security conference for the sake of a conference. We recognize that Western and Eastern interests are different. Our policy is to seek concrete agreements concretely arrived at.

Mr. Barzel: Kosygin told me that total peace in Europe was insane. When I said everywhere, he changed the subject.7

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Box 87, Memoranda for the President, Beginning January 23, 1972. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. A tape recording of the conversation is ibid., White House Tapes, Recording of Conversation Between Nixon and Barzel, January 28, 1972, 11:32 a.m.–12:16 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation 659–3. For Barzel’s memoir account of the meeting, see Im Streit und umstritten, pp. 170–172.
  2. Before the meeting with Barzel, Nixon and Kissinger discussed the U.S. attitude toward the CDU/CSU and ratification of the Eastern treaties. Kissinger: “I think this, Barzel’s party, is essentially the party of our friends.” Nixon: “I know.” Kissinger: “And we should just take the position it’s up to them, that we’re not advising them anything. If we want to bring pressure on them for ratification, we should do it a little later as a result of a deal with the Soviets.” Nixon: “Yep.” Kissinger: “The more domestic trouble Brandt has the more the Russians need us.” After further discussion of the “position of neutrality,” Nixon commented: “Brandt, in my opinion, has made a major error in doing what he’s done but he’s done it now.” Kissinger: “Well, the only thing is, it is in our interests for the Russians to have, not to have their flank completely clear in Germany.” The two men restated the Soviet factor in their calculations. Kissinger: “And then we can help them [the Soviets] at the right moment, that we’ll moderate Barzel if necessary. But not now; it’s much too early.” Nixon: “I couldn’t agree more.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of Conversation Between Nixon and Kissinger, January 28, 1972, 11:17–11:27 a.m., Oval Office, Conversation 659–2) The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume.
  3. Barzel, who had requested the invitation in November, asked that Pauls be excluded from his meetings in Washington; Kissinger discussed this request in a telephone conversation with McCloy on January 22. According to McCloy, Birrenbach told him that Pauls had argued in telegrams from Washington that “if [the] treaties are not ratified it is the end of cordial relations between the U.S. and Germany.” Kissinger replied: “Baloney.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) In a January 28 memorandum to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt reported, however, that Averell Harriman warned Pauls the previous evening that “if the CDU manages to defeat the Moscow Treaty ‘we’ will have to rethink our entire European policy.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 686, Country Files, Europe, Germany (Bonn), Vol. XI)
  4. In a televised address on January 25, Nixon revealed the secret talks with North Vietnam in Paris and unveiled his latest peace proposal. For the text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1972, pp. 100–106.
  5. During his visit to Moscow December 10–16, Barzel met various Soviet leaders, including Gromyko and Kosygin. For Barzel’s memoir account of the visit, see Auf dem Drahtseil, pp. 140–154; and Im Streit und umstritten, pp. 157–168. In a January 27 memorandum to the President, Kissinger noted that, when Barzel insisted in Moscow that the Soviets accept the European Community, Kosygin replied that the Community was “a hostile anti-Soviet grouping.” “This last point,” Kissinger explained, “was a coup for Barzel because Brandt had said that Moscow accepted the European Community and heralded this as a major turning point. No doubt Barzel’s aggressive tactics baited Kosygin. But Barzel now can claim that the [Moscow] treaty, with its unreciprocated concessions, with no agreed interpretation on German self-determination, and with the Soviet opposition to the EEC, all make clear that Moscow will try to isolate and then neutralize the Federal Republic.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 686, Country Files, Europe, Germany (Bonn), Vol. XI)
  6. The People’s Republic of China and the European Community established diplomatic relations on May 6, 1975.
  7. According to Barzel, Nixon pulled him aside at the end of the meeting and said: “Good Luck. We stand by our old friends. Please give my regards to Kiesinger and Schroeder.” (Barzel, Im Streit und umstritten, p. 172) Dobrynin raised the Barzel visit in his meeting with Kissinger on February 7. The memorandum of conversation records the following brief exchange on the subject: “Dobrynin then mentioned the Soviets’ impression of what Barzel had been told in the United States. It was that the United States was technically neutral with respect to ratification of the treaties, but in fact leaned towards it. This was sufficient help and was within the spirit of our arrangement. I did not contradict the point, but simply said that we wanted a relaxation of tensions and that we were pursuing a positive course.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 493, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 9 [Part 1])