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


  • U.S. Policy Toward the German Democratic Republic (East Germany)

Secretary Rogers has sent you a memorandum (Tab C) recommending a redefinition of our policy toward the GDR and attaching a draft telegram of instruction to our Embassy in Bonn and Mission in Berlin.2 The instruction would postpone the establishment of diplomatic relations with the GDR, at least until entry of West Germany and the GDR into the UN and would subject establishment of relations to two conditions: (a) West German agreement; and (b) Soviet (and GDR) acknowledgement that recognition of the GDR will not affect Four Power agreements, rights, and responsibilities for Berlin and Germany as a whole.

The instruction goes on to propose that, in the interim, the U.S. seek to activate its presence in the GDR and East Berlin. Specifically that we:

  • —try to increase trade, travel and contacts generally;
  • —facilitate unofficial cultural and academic exchanges.

State’s instruction to the field, as Secretary Rogers observes in his memorandum to you, deals with policy affecting an area of major concern to the United States. Under these circumstances, I believe that you [Page 969] should make the appropriate policy decision only after full consideration by the National Security Council.3

The memorandum at Tab A from you to Secretary Rogers acknowledges the importance of the issues he has raised and states that they require NSC consideration. With your approval I will issue a NSSM (draft at Tab B)4 calling for an interagency study of all the issues which any alteration of our present policy toward the GDR might raise. I will discuss this NSSM with Secretary Rogers before issuing it.


That you sign the memorandum to the Secretary of State at Tab A.5
That you authorize issuance of the NSSM at Tab B.
  1. Source: National Security Council, Secretariat Files, NSSM Files, NSSM 146. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. Sonnenfeldt forwarded a copy to Kissinger on February 16. (Ibid.)
  2. The memorandum, dated February 14, and the draft telegram are attached at Tab C but not printed. Both are also in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 GER E–US.
  3. In a February 11 memorandum to Rogers, Hillenbrand stated his belief that, since there was “no divergence of views” in the interagency clearance process, “an elaborate NSC procedure” to approve the policy was unnecessary. (Ibid.) Kissinger, however, disagreed in a telephone conversation with Haldeman on February 16. Noting that Rogers intended to recognize East Germany, Kissinger insisted that the policy “should never be put into a cable before it is discussed in the NSC. It’s another attempt to bust the system.” The two men agreed that the White House should postpone a decision until a “full discussion” after the President returned from China. “This is a major decision and it basically builds a confrontation between him and the President,” Kissinger explained. “If it is disapproved, he can say he is a great hero. We should sell it to the Russians if we are going to do it.” Kissinger also told Haldeman that the telegram would be withdrawn at his initiative. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 371, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  4. Tab B is not printed. For the NSSM as issued, see Document 341.
  5. Although he did not indicate a decision on the memorandum, Nixon signed the memorandum to Rogers on February 17. The text reads: “Your thoughtful memorandum of February 14 raises important issues for US policy which I believe should have a full airing in the NSC. I have asked Dr. Kissinger to issue an appropriate NSSM and he will be in touch with you before doing so.” (National Security Council, Secretariat Files, NSSM Files, NSSM 146)